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Thursday, April 26

Not Insane, But ...

On a nice day in July of last year, a truck bomb was set off in the government center of the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Which, for the benefit of my readers in the USA, is in Norway.

Eight people died in the blast, and more than 500 more were injured to varying degrees.  Since it was summer vacation time in Oslo, the center wasn't as full of people as it usually is, which explains the low casualty rate.  The bomb itself was our good old friend ANFO (ammonium nitrate / fuel oil), the weapon of choice if you want to make a big boom for not a lot of money.

Surveillance videos showed a man walking away from the truck just before it went horribly nasty, and by reading the registration number on the vehicle the police determined that it belonged to a man named Anders Behring Breivik.  An immediate search was mounted.

They were too late.

Breivik had left the area and headed for the island of Utoya, where the ruling party's youth movement was having a summer camp - boating, group activities, just clean fun for kids.  When a man dressed as a police officer and carrying weapons showed up about two hours after the bombing, no one thought much of it.

Until he shot two off-duty cops who were acting as security (one of them the stepbrother of the Crown Princess).

When the smoke had cleared, Breivik had claimed another 69 lives before voluntarily giving up to police.  Over the course of his shooting spree he would call out that the police were here, that everything was all right, and the kids should come out of hiding - whereupon he started shooting again. 

His trial started several days ago, and one of things that surfaced as evidence was his psychological profile.  It said, perhaps not surprisingly, that he was insane.  Breivik immediately repudiated the study, claiming that he was most definitely not insane.

Of course, we remind ourselves that he planned and executed a killing spree, claimed that he was a crusading Knight Templar, and that he was trying to save the country from multiculturalism and "cultural Marxism."  Suggesting that he's insane is a way to put some kind of rational meaning on his acts.  If we can't understand his motives for shooting teenagers and trying to blow up the government, he must be crazy, right?

Not really.

Timothy McVeigh wasn't crazy, and despite whatever we might think Osama bin Laden wasn't crazy either.  While their world-view may seem skewed to us, they act rationally.  They make their plans carefully (Breivik began planning this in the early 2000s, and one of his ideas was to kidnap the former Prime Minister and behead her on internet video), and they carry out those plans without visible rancor - and without pity (McVeigh set off his bomb at the Murrah Federal Building even though he knew that there was a day care center with small children in the structure).

So, as the trial goes on, is Anders Breivik insane?

No.  He is rational according to his worldview.

How should he be punished for his acts?  Well, that's a poser; Norwegian law has no death penalty, and apparently the longest you can stay in prison for any offense is 21 years.  They might get around that by stringing all 77 sentences together consecutively, but even that may not fly.  In this country (depending on which state you live in) he would spend every day of the rest of his life in prison, or spend an average of twenty years on Death Row awaiting execution.


Monday, April 16

Dumber Than A Second Coat Of Paint

That's Tennessee.

The Volunteer State - or, in this case, the "Volunteer for Stupidest Bunch of Cretins in Their State Legislature."

Okay, you ask, what's got his nickers in a twist now?

First, the State of Tennessee is now a state where the teachers are practically required to "teach the controversy" regarding such topics as climate change and evolution. Got that? Two subjects about which there should be absolutely zero controversy.

Of course, the evolution "controversy" is simply the resurgence of idiocy known as Intelligent Design, which is actually Creationism, which is actually Religion (specifically Christianity, so don't be bringing any heathen controversies, just good solid Christian ones) - which is, by an amazing set of coincidences, against the law for teachers.

Yes, the state which hosted the Scopes Trial decided to forget the facts that Scopes' conviction was overturned, that the anti-evolution law they had on their books was stricken back in 1968, and that the town of Dover, Pennsylvania had to pay out the ass for failure to rein in the assholes on their own school board.

But it doesn't stop there, no sir! Tennessee's legislature, a concatenation of complete coprophages if ever I've seen one, is also considering a bill that would restrict sex education. Now, they already had a law that requires teachers to tell students that abstinence is the best way to stop teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

But abstinence education doesn't work. How do we know? Look at Tennessee! Abstinence-centered sex education, and one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STDs in the nation.

Gosh, Cletus, think there might - just might - be a correlation here? Bear in mind that when kids get a shiny new toy (particularly one that stimulates the post-orgasmic production of hormones such as endorphins) they will simply fester to try it out!

The Stupid's so thick on the ground in Tennessee you'd think you were in Mississippi.

So Tennessee's making an effort to make sure that teachers double down on the abstinence crap, by also instructing people on the idea of "gateway sexual behaviors."

"Gateway sexual behaviors."

You hear about gateway drugs, substances that can lead to you taking harder chemicals in an effort to get high. Drink alcohol? That's a gateway. Smoke weed? That's a gateway.

So, what are the fine men and women installed in the State Legislature by the voters of Tennessee (who have no one to blame but themselves) describing as "gateway sexual behaviors?"

Holding hands, and kissing.

You'll notice they say nothing about masturbation, but apparently the progression would be:

1. Holding hands, and kissing.
2. Hugging.
3. Dancing.

And how do you enforce that? Do you accuse every parent who holds a child's hand as they cross the street of being a closet pedophile? Or do you simply brainwash kids that any body contact is so inherently dangerous that they'll spontaneously combust if they do so much as look at the opposite sex?

But never fear; it'll never work. Kids will be taught that you must abstain from sex, and that holding hands and kissing are gateway sexual behaviors that can lead to risky sex and teenage pregnancy. No mention of condoms, or the pill, or abortion, or responsible safe sexual intercourse (and recall that at least one political faction in that state refers to itself as "The Party of Personal Responsibility(tm)").

But kids are raised amid a tsunami of sexual images - TV, music, the Internet - and when the winds of puberty begin to blow and various secondary sexual characteristics develop, young men and women will start to touch themselves Down There.

And they'll decide they'll like it, and want more.

And they'll suddenly realize that they want to share their bodies.

And the Tennessee Legislature will wake up, turn around and realize that they've been, quite literally, dumber than a second coat of paint.