FROM VITTORIO MUSCA, VOSS
My flat in Voss, in Skulegata, is just few meters far from one of the most famous and old pub in town, the “Tre Brør”.
I met the owner of the bar last week and we talked about my country, Norway and many other different topics, comparing our different experience. One of the things we talked about was the penitentiary system. I was hesitating if to talk about “that” or not, but in the end I did. People seem to be so open and frankly interested in other people’ point of view, that I feel always free to express my point of view, without risking not only of being misunderstood or criticized, but I don’t even feel like I can be offensive in any case.
So I mention Breivik. Probably in the last years he was the most famous Norwegian person all around the world and mentioning him made me feel like, at the beginning, the same way I felt years ago when I started talking about a certain Austrian painter living in Germany round the 30’s nad the 40’s in the XIX century (I guess you know who I mean).
Well what I said to this guy, the owner of “Tre Brør”, Andres is his name, was something like: “You know, when I heard about Breivik few years ago, I was not surprise someone like him could exist; what surprised me was that there were lawyers in Norway. I heard that few weeks ago he received some money from the government cause he was in the solitary cell for too long. And also that time I was surprised that there were still lawyers in Norway.”
Andres laughted, then he said: “You know, prisons in Norway, are like kindergardens. People are respected there, no matter what they did. They have comfortable rooms and many benefits and most of the time they are set free after a really short time.”
Actually I had a positive impression about the Norwegian police already when I was in Oslo, on my arrival.
There was a guy pissing on the street and few meters far there were two policemen taking care of a guy, probably from Pakistan, bleeding on the street. I was surprised both by the fact that someone could be violent in this country, but also but the fact that police was caring so much.
“In Norway” explained me Andres when I told him about this episode last week “police first take care of the injured person, or of the one who was robbed or mugged or assaulted, and only when they are sure the victim is fine, they look for the criminal”
“In Italy as well they do not care so much about those who assaulted a person, also cause, sometimes, during demonstrations, mainly, it’s the police that injure someone”
He laughted again.
Few days after Andres was assaulted (actually he was just punched twice, nothing more than that). A guy, drunk and stoned, entered his cafeteria (right above the “Tre Brør”) and asked for a beer. Andres refused to give him a beer, also cause he could clearly see that that guy didn’t need any more alcohol to get drunk. I like to think he did it cause he wanted this dreadlocked dude not to waste his money, but the guy didn’t appreciate it and punched him twice, as I already wrote above, then he left. I was sitting on a bench, talking with a colleague after work, and tried to convince me I was “Siberian”. I was tired and sincerely, without knowing what happened earlier, I didn’t want to be annoyed. We left, and he did the same. After half a hour I was drinking a beer with my friends in “Tre Brør” with my friends, when this guy came back to the bar. Soon the bartender called the police.
They put the handcuffs around his wrists and were almost making him sit in the police car, when he hit intentionally twice with his head on the top of the car. The police had so to push him down to the floor. My friends, who were sitting and drinking with me started to complain about the “rude methods of Norwegian policemen”, supported in their wrong ideas by the guy laying on the street screaming “Fascists! Fascists!” all the time.
An ambulance arrived, the nurses checked his physical conditions and then made him enter the ambulance, where he managed to get free of the handcuffs. Anyway in the end he was taken to the police station.
Two days after that I saw him at the railway station and I informed Andres about that in the evening. He told me he knew it already and that the guy went again to his bar to apologize.
Yesterday something funnier happened. Me and my colleagues were celebrating two birthdays in their flat, when around 3 am a guy enter the flat. None of us knew him. He was drunk of course, as it can usually happen to be at 3 am during the weekend here in Norway.
Again, he came to me, trying to convince me I was the owner of the flat.
“You are the owner” he said “I know it. I just wanted to inform you that the door downstair is open and anyone can enter” (as I could clearly see looking at him) “I could stay here with a gun and shoot to all of you” he kept saying “but I just entered to make friends”. We tried to send him away, but he really looked in a desperate research of new friends. “I just want to make friends, please. Can I receive any benefits?” (girls or alcohol I guess).
After half a hour he left. We went to the balcony and we saw him talking with the police and pointing at us. The situation was still funny and unreal, but it was becoming a little bit annoying as well.
“There’s a art gallery downstair and the door is opened” said the policemen “We have to control that everything is fine. Do you know who’s the owner? We have to inform him.”
We provided him all the possible informations and the all of us, the guy and the police left. My first thought was: “even when they ruin a party (normal people or policemen here in Norway) they make you feel good”.
I’ve never been in a Norwegian prison (and actually I’ve never being in a prison all my life, though I’d like to have this experience once at least, just to learn something new also there) and I don’t know how much the penitentiary system helps people here to behave and to respect each other (as the first story of the guy with the dreadlocks seems to teach), I don’t know if “criminals” change their attitude and behaviour always so quickly and if that’s why it’s easy to forgive someone who made a mistake (breaking the rules) and I don’t know if policemen are always so nice and helpful, instead of being repressive as it can happen in other countries and I don’t know if there’s any connection between the mutual attitude of these groups of people.
I don’t even wonder about this. What I wonder about is: “Is there any madness or disorder under this peace, some underneath stream of violence hidden by a layer of grace? Is it repressed or simply it doesn’t exist, like the Rousseau’s “bon sauvage”, lost in the allmighty nature surrounding and invading him? Is man just a particle of a well organized nature? The laws of entropy do not apply to Norwegian enviroment, do they? Are they just little ancient kids, a special kind of animals? Is it just being and becoming a man the main issue of being and becoming a man?”