Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic in the north Atlantic. I was going to write about it Sunday, focusing on the frailty of human life and our collective hubris when it comes to technology. I think I was going to throw in some things about the forces of nature and fate also. The whole essay was meant to be a reflection on the human experience in the face of tragedy.
The more I thought about it though the less interesting the idea became. Despite new theories about lunar gravity increasing the number of bergs in the shipping lanes and a mysterious haze on the horizon the disaster came down to one thing. The captain screwed the pooch. That is unless you believe movie maker James Cameron's version of that night. Cameron laid the whole thing in the laps of the two look outs in crow's nest. They were happily watching Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio play pitty pat on the deck instead of doing their job. Ultimately of course the ship sideswiped an iceberg. There weren't enough lifeboats because no one dreamed the thing would actually sink. So, a bunch of really rich people and even more not so rich people either drowned or froze to death as they floated in the frigid waters. End of story.
Hey, shit happens.
Just ask them in Norway. Last July a guy named Anders Breivik set off a bomb in the middle of the capital, Oslo, killing 8. He did this in order to delay meaningful police response to his real "mission." The wiley Breivik dressed a a cop and then after the bomb went off he traveled to an island in the middle of a lake. A political party was holding a youth summer camp there. When Breivik went ashore he opened fire on anyone and everyone. By the time he was done 69 more people, many of them, if not most, teens and pre teens were dead.
He went on trial today. In a move so perfectly human in nature he admitted to killing them all, but said he was innocent. He claims he was defending Norway from the twin curses of multi culturalism and Islam. As he stood in the dock he told the panel of judges, "I do not recognize the Norwegian courts. You have received your mandate from political parties that support multi culturalism. I do not recognize the authority of the court." In Oklahoma we recognize this type of statement as a variation of the McVeigh theory of government.
Unfortunately for brother Breivik the court does recognize its authority as does just about everyone else in Norway. The good news for him is that they are really not as blood thirsty there as we are here. Right now they have only two options. First, find him insane and lock him away in an asylum for an unspecified amount of time. Or they can find him sane and put him away for the maximum which is a mere 21 years. That works out to a couple of months per murder. Luckily for Norwegians everywhere if the authorities still deem him dangerous at the end of his sentence they can continue to hold him indefinitely. And there you have the difference between American and Scandinavian justice. We can't hold someone beyond his sentence just because we think he might be dangerous. However, we can slip him the hot shot, like we did with ol' Tim and be done with it.
I have no idea what these two things have to do with each other. I don't know if there were any Norwegians on the Titanic. There certainly weren't any survivors of the Titanic either in Oslo or on that island.
Maybe I'm just worn out on presidential politics and neighborhood watch captains for the moment. Maybe I'm simply impressed that people have been wildly incompetent and brutally evil no matter what the age or continent. Hell, I may just like thinking about Kate Winslet playing pitty pat.
The only things certain right now is that, one, it is Monday, two, we know the Big Parade never ends. and three, I will forever be in debt to the English for inventing the gin and tonic.
Sic Transit Gloria.