Today BBC Online (where most reports are anonymously produced) tells us that the killings by Anders Behring Breivik on 22 July have “traumatised” Norwegian society. The evidence presented for this? A caption to a photograph, and, further down the report, another unsubtantiated assertion
The attacks on 22 July traumatised Norway, one of the most politically stable and tolerant countries in Europe.
- Norway is stable and tolerant
- Killings are unstable and intolerant
- Stability and tolerance can’t cope with instability and intolerance
- therefore, ergo, ipso facto, Norway is traumatised.
I don’t deny that individuals in Norwegian society might have been so badly affected by the killings that “trauma” would be a reasonable description of their mental and physical conditions. But that is a supposition on my part, based, chiefly, on the way in which we are told, over and over again, that trauma is the only possible reaction to unexpected and violent events1 Nowhere do I see any evidence that Norwegian society as a whole, has been traumatised.
When the Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, remarked that “the Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation” it doesn’t strike me that he is the leader of a country convulsed by PTMS (post-traumatic-melodrama-syndrome), no matter how much lazy, unthinking, journalism, wants him to be.
Shame on you, BBC.
- The four most depressing words in English journalese? “Counsellors are standing by”. [↩]