Nothing could be less in doubt than the responsibility of Anders Behring Breivik for the murders committed in Oslo and on the island of Utøya on July 22 of last year. But his trial has been going on for several weeks now, and will go on for a few more. For this is more than just a trial – it's a national event, carried live on both of the country's major broadcast channels. And the question is not whether the defendant is guilty or not – that's already been settled. It's this: what will be left of freedom of speech in Norway when this grotesque spectacle is over?
For the objective here is not just to try Breivik for his actions, but to try him for his thoughts as well. The climax of the trial will come in June, when several writers who have written about Islam – myself included – will be hauled into court as unwilling witnesses for the defense. As I wrote here last month, "the goal of the defense – and of the defendant, who apparently made up the list of witnesses himself – is utterly identical with the goal of the country's leftist cultural elite: namely, to implicate all of us writers in Breivik's actions. Of course, Breivik wants to do this in order to mitigate his own guilt in the eyes of the court and the country; the cultural elite wants to do it in order to discredit forever the criticism of Islam."