Agreeing with the title of this post isn’t a stretch for many progressives, but today’s news is that the man behind the Norwegian massacre is clinically insane. Specifically, psychiatrists have concluded that Anders Behring Breivik live in his “own delusional universe where all his thoughts and acts are guided by his delusions.”
Paul Sims at New Humanist worries that this diagnosis will take the onus off extremists for their own writings
While paranoid schizophrenia may have led to Breivik’s murderous actions, many on the far-right share a number of the views that make up his "delusional universe", as, indeed, do several more mainstream commentators in the European and American press. Whatever conclusions the Norwegian courts may reach about Breivik, such people should not be allowed to sidestep the questions raised by the appearance of their ideas in his "manifesto" by simply dismissing that document as the work of an insane criminal.
It’s obviously an ad hominem to just dismiss someone as insane because they believe Islam is suddenly dominant in Canada or Europe, but we do need to recognize that with the right to free speech comes the responsibility in speech. Making wildly outlandish claims to the point where someone with a mental illness acts on them should not be criminalized but the columnists and commentators who put absurdities out there have some moral connection to these actions.
We must all continue to actively denounce hatred and fear-mongers who can contribute to this discord.