I find what the deputy director said creepy, or mildly sinister, in its implications, if not yet in its practice. It suggests that the primary purpose of the criminal law for his society is the redemption of the criminal, and that no act – not even the killing of seventy-seven people – is beyond the pale for it. A society for which nothing is beyond the pale is built on foundations of sand. If Quisling were to return to Norway, he would not be executed as a traitor, he would be treated as a person whose change of opinion is pending.
Dalrymple wrote this piece last month after Anders Breivik received his “ludicrously inadequate and disproportionate” sentence for murdering 77 people. He notes the defense of such leniency offered by the deputy director of the Norwegian prison department (“A person can change”) and responds: