Should Anders Breivik’s application to study at the University of Oslo be accepted?


Yes- Will Mccurdy

Education has been proven to be consistently beneficial to prisoner rehabilitation. A prisoner that has received an education is significantly less likely to re-offend and damage society. Those incarcerated are frequently the least educated people in society, and there is strong connection between this and their criminality. Education can be an effective way to reduce crime, perhaps even more so than punishment itself. In fact, the money spent educating prisoners can pay for itself by keeping them out of prison.

However, Anders Brevik is by no means your average prisoner. His notoriety, the grand scale of his crimes, the motivation behind them, and the uncertainty about sanity set him apart from the average criminal. He stands little chance of ever being let out into society again. However, I believe education to be a basic human right. Human rights, by definition are absolute in nature. They should not be changed or adapted on case by case basis. A legal system without consistency cannot truly be fair and just.

But it is important to remind ourselves that education helps the uneducated the most. If society as a whole wants a prison such as Brevik to show remorse for his crimes and charge his ideological position, wouldn’t it be wiser to give him access and education in various schools of political thought? If his studies political science, he will be exposed a variety of thinkers who will have very beliefs. Would this not be more effective than merely leaving him rot in a cell, bitter at the Norwegian prison system? Tookie Williams, famous LA gang leader, who was notorious of his brutality, repented from his violent ways and educated himself. He proceeded to write from prison in an attempt to empower young African Americans and to stop gang violence. There was no question as to whether he deserved his sentence but his output afterwards, due the opportunities jail afforded him, was undoubtedly positive. Malcolm X, who has now achieved a degree of acceptance, was a petty, violent criminal as a young man but after educating himself in jail, he became one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement. Nelson Mandela too, who would have been hated and persecuted old guard of South Africa, managed in get his law degree in jail, helping him to further help his nation upon his release

In addition to purely theoretical concerns, although Norway is not part of European Union, they are part of the Council of Europe and are consequentially bound by its directives. Should Norway refuse his application, due to unique nature of his case, they could be breaking the human rights legislation. It also contradicts the Geneva convection which forbids denying prisoners education, unless very good reasoning can be provided.

We cannot pick and choose who should be afforded basic rights or not, picking and choosing depending on their infamy.

No- Dave Washington

On 22nd July 2011, Norway, and Oslo in particular, was left in tatters, after Andres Breivik killed 77 people and left another 319 injured. Eight died when Breivik, now aged 34, bombed government buildings in Oslo, before another 69, mostly teenagers, were slaughtered in a mass shooting on the island of Utoya. Convicted of mass murder, causing a fatal explosion and terrorism, Breivik was sentenced to 21 years of preventive detention.

Two years on the right-wing extremist has applied to study political science at the University of Oslo, a move which will surely enrage the inhabitants of a city that was left devastated by the worst terrorist attack in its history. Of course education is something that everyone should have a right to, and for former convicts this is a manner of rehabilitation as they look to emerge from their sentence with the qualifications or skills to set them on track in later life. Yet in some cases you have to question whether exceptions should be made to the rule, and Breivik is definitely one of those.

Norwegian authorities have stressed the importance in treating the inhabitant of Ila prison in the same manner as any other convict, and have been praised for such a stance, but ultimately the move could be more provocative and damaging than beneficial. Everyone at the University would be impacted, whether they be students or academics, simply by the knowledge that such a virulent figure in Norwegian history would be part of the same institution, and concerns about the discomfort this would produce have already been expressed.

Imagine teaching an anti-feminist, islamophobic Zionist, who perpetrated his atrocities primarily on political grounds, political science; I’m sure academics would be impressed. And the choice of Oslo could not be more insensitive, the city that was so devastatingly impacted by the actions of Breivik. People will neither forgive nor forget that horrific day and his presence as a member of the institution would surely be met with open hostility.

The majority of Breivik’s victims were teenagers, some of the age to attend university, others with those future prospects brutally ripped away from them. Many may well have gone on to attend the University of Oslo, and many of those currently studying at the University are likely to know someone who died by Breivik’s hand. For such a figure to then take a place at the institution, which could well now be hosting many of his victims, would only instigate further antagonism.

In the UK we become slightly detached from the atrocities that were conducted by Breivik, but if it was a British figure such as David Copeland or Michael Stone who were both sentenced for multiple murders in the late 20th century, would you be so willing to let them attend a leading British University, or would you welcome Anders Breivik, whose offence was of a far greater scale, to come and study at York, somehow I fancy not.

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4 thoughts on “Should Anders Breivik’s application to study at the University of Oslo be accepted?

  1. To allow Breivik to study at university is going too far. Yes, he can repent before his death and should be encouraged to do so, but he still deserves punishment for the abominable and dehumanising act he has committed. He should never be rehabilitated into society; this man, if he is to be left alive, must never leave the confines of a prison. He sacrificed his rights the moment he chose to end those lives in cold blood.

  2. The justice system should not be about punishment, as revenge serves no useful purpose. It should be about rehabilitation, and so (if Breivik were to be rehabilitated) I see no reason why he should be refused entry (if he has the academic skills) to the university, or indeed be refused any thing that any other individual would be entitled to.

  3. I think saying the justice system is about rehab is all well and good if you are not the victim of his monstrous crime. I know somebody who was, it’s there education and betterment that people should be worried about. Andres brevik is evil, and in my opinion should rot in a cell for the rest of his life. Time to start thinking of his victim an not of somebody as evil as him.

  4. The reason we have the justice system is exactly because the victims are in no position to impartially decide what to do. I don’t think that working towards the betterment of both the criminal and the victim are mutually exclusive (in the majority of cases).

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