Norway has just held its minute’s silence for the victims of last week’s shootung. The hearing is being held behind closed doors at the moment. News outlets – internet, tv, radio, papers – are covering the events live.Later, someone will need to analyse this coverage. Perhaps analyse the “explanations” given for this killing spree compared to others in which the gunman was not western European, white, Christian. I have not heard such expressly evaluative language in the news for a long time. Not simply evaluative of the horendous deed – that part of the reporting is similar to that during 9/11, Beslan or 7/7. But evaluative of the gunman (who I am not going to name, because he has enough media presence already).

As the days pass, it seems to me that the explanation of his actions has shifted from his right-wing beliefs/ideology to his mental capacities. Today’s news has expounded at large on how mentally instable he is. Mad, crazy, not right in the head. Is this his defence lawyer’s work? To get a more lenient sentence? Or is it connected to the often repeated discursive mechanism that “they” are led to kill because of their beliefs, families, environment, socialisation, whereas “we” are led to kill because of mental delusions?

This distinct way of reporting compounds the sadness for me. Why is it apparently so easy to understand why some people have bombed civilians, yet so difficult to understand why others have?



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