Monday, July 25, 2011

How to read the warnings of tragedies like Norway's

A 1,500-page manifesto? Definitely a sign of madness.

Let’s face it, anyone who can write 1,500 pages on any subject has a compulsion of some sort. While freedom of expression is necessary to the overall freedom and democracy that we in the West enjoy, and that everyone deserves, I would like to suggest that anyone who writes more than a thousand pages about any single subject should receive a publicly funded psychological assessment.

Maybe there would be nothing to the work more dangerous than another Harry Potter sequel. But maybe that kind of screening would have found someone like Anders Behring Breivik before he started his killing spree.

I’m not advocating thought police or censorship, not by any measure. However, his “manifesto” was, according to the reports I’ve read, posted on the Internet. All that would be necessary in my suggested scenario would be something that flags the volume of content, not the actual content, itself. I have not read it, so I will not make a comment on the content.

But 1,500 pages is, as I said, obviously indicative of obsession. Flagging something that long and, in a caring, non-judgemental way, assessing the author, might solve problems before they become tragedies.

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