The headlines the last couple of days have focused on murders. More specifically the lack of punishment for murder. In the last two days Sweden has demonstrated, once again, a lack of balls. There’s no way around it. And I believe this has inundated the majority of Swedish society. In the most negative way possible.
A group of 16 year olds beat a classmate to death late in 2007. The accused, or in this case convicted, come from pretty well off families. One of the convicted is said to come from one of the most successful and richest families in Sweden. So obviously this got a bit of press.
During the trial, one of the accused decided it was a good idea to go to his ex-girlfriends house and beat up on her a bit. You know… for publicity purposes. Trying to help his cause. Had they been kept in jail under the trial this might have been avoided. But come on, they are just kids. Maybe they didn’t really beat and kick another kid to death.
Of course, none of the accused has admitted to anything. But they were convicted. And sentenced to three years. 3. And appeals followed. And the decision came down yesterday. Three years was a little harsh. How about one? 1. Uno. Ett år. For murdering another kid. So they will spend one year in a youth ward.
The Riccardo murder in Kunsgholmen got a lot of press in Stockholm and around Sweden not only because of the social standing of the kids involved but also because of the growing problem with teenage street violence. Sweden has been suffering from an epidemic of teenage violence. This ranges from gangs of girls beating up other girls, gangs of boy threatening everybody from other boys to the neighbors to the public transportation personnel. Knives tend to be the weapon of choice. Not a week seems to go by without a high profile teenage fight resulting in a stabbing.
So a debate has begun. And that debate focuses on causes. What causes this violence? Why is it happening? How can we stop it? And in typical Swedish fashion the answer involves tax money. Clearly they are fighting and stabbing each other because they are bored. So let’s pump more tax money into programs for teenagers. Let’s pump more money into the same thing that Swedes have been doing for years as the teenage violence continues to rise. Let’s do more of the same. Of course, while the adults continue to try to find causes, the kids committing these crimes continue to do so. And they grow bolder. A defense attorney was quoted as saying that the kids themselves have said “ingen satt ner foten” (“no one put their foot down”).
And why should they? Conflict might arise. And it’s probably someone else’s fault. Maybe it’s their upbringing. Or their lack of education. Or their lack of extracurricular activities. Or maybe it’s just that they are being allowed to run free with no fear of consequence. No one in this country needs to take responsibility for their actions. And even if they do they will face little to no punishment. Or they can just lay the blame elsewhere. As the next man did.
This one also involved teenagers. This time the teenagers were harassing and making life hell for an entire family. Not a nice thing to do. Granted. In fact the night of the murder, because regardless of what the courts say that is still murder, six teenagers armed with various forms of weapons came to the man’s house in the middle of the night threatening his son. So this man did what any man would do. He shot them. Now in Colorado that’s called the Make My Day law. And internationally, hell even in the US, there are a lot of people that take potshots at it. But basically that’s the situation we are dealing with here in Rödeby. Excellent. He killed one of the kids and messed another one up a little bit. He went on trial.
And he was acquitted. When I was little I never really understood that word. It means he walked. He will serve no time. He didn’t know what he was doing. He was temporarily insane. Maybe, but one of the kids was shot while crowding around his dying friend. The kids getting shot knew exactly what he was doing. *
Today I also saw a bunch of teenagers throw their trash on the ground and just walk away. It was right in front of the door to my office so it gets pretty shitty there and I notice.
In other news, DCP is doing an internship through her bio class. The one Swedish girl she is working with almost didn’t come on the first day because she was tired when she woke up. She then showed up late.
DCP still hasn’t received her grade from her last class. That was nearly two months ago.
A woman I work with has stopped answering the phone calls of a few people who are wondering where their paycheck is.
These things might not seem like they are connected. But I disagree. Sweden is a country that has been so pandered to by the government; people don’t feel the need to take any sort of personal responsibility.
Kill someone when you are a kid? No worries. Take a year and spend it in a youth ward. Fifty years old and happened to kill a 15 year old? No problem. You can go home after the trial. Throw your trash on the ground? Thanks, you’re creating jobs for the numerous local government sanitation workers. Just got an internship at a company you really want to work for after graduation but a little tired? It’s cool. Show up late. Still no idea what your class grade is? Relax, it’s only been two months and there were a solid 15 of you in the class. Didn’t receive your paycheck on time? Chill out, it will come when it comes, it’s not like you’re really living on this right?
The government will help you. The government will clean up the mess. Or maybe we can blame it on someone else. Or maybe it’s the systems fault. Let’s throw some tax money at it and see if that helps.
It’s amazing that anything of value gets done in this country sometimes. I am absolutely appalled by the Swedish attitude in certain aspects. How this can be seen as acceptable is beyond me.
Most Swedes might not even see a problem with this.** They might see this as a form of freedom. A form of freedom that is contingent upon the government taking care of them. A form of freedom that is so freeing that no personal responsibility should be taken.
Some might argue that this will result in a continuing degradation of Swedish society. If this keeps up maybe I’ll argue that. And in all honesty, until Swedes realize that everyone can’t be catered to. Shouldn’t be catered to. And that people need to take responsibility for their actions, I believe Sweden will continue to see a rise in violence, a decline in self sufficiency, and an eventual decay of their once proud Swedish Model.
Sure there are exceptions. But enough Swedes have this attitude that for any foreigner it is incredibly noticeable. And for those Swedes whose blood is boiling now. Let’s not start comparing the US. I’m not comparing Sweden to the US. I’m not even thinking about the US. There are problems there also. With violence. With teenagers. With all kinds of things.
This blog isn’t about the US though. It’s about Sweden through the eyes of me. A Swedish-American. Not everything I write that criticizes the lovely Kingdom of Sweden should be read as a comparison. So give it a rest. I’m writing what I’ve seen here in Sweden. Living in Sweden. Working in Sweden. Invoking that Swedish passport of mine. I love being here. It’s been an adventure. But sometimes these things just hit. And they just blow my mind.
So Welcome to Sweden.
Some of you may have noticed the asterixes. I have added a few comments but didn't want to take away from the original post. Some of this comes up in the comments I responded to below, some I even straight copy and pasted. Feel free to read on and react.
* (Added Friday May 9th, 2008) I would like to point out that there have been some good comments about this since my first posting it. The beauty of blog posting is that you get quick, gut reactions. Which is what you got from me. The downfall is that you sometimes don't get time to think everything out. After having read some of the comments I have thought a bit more about the Rödeby case.
My reaction focused more on the end result. The judgment of the father, rather than all the surrounding circumstances. While I still believe there is a difference between standing up for yourself, putting your foot down, doing what is right, and killing someone, I have never been in this sort of situation. I don’t know how I would react. I also believe in this case there were other options: Threaten them with the gun without shooting, fire a warning shot, or stop shooting after you have shot one of them. But I don’t know.
Clearly the father felt threatened enough that he felt self defense was necessary. But, I still can't get over the fact that you can kill someone and completely get away with it. I'm torn between the need to be able to protect yourself and your family and the value of a human life.
The kids were armed with sticks. Granted blunt objects like a stick can do a lot of damage. But is this a situation that requires the use of deadly force? Lot's to think about. But I stand by my above argument, and in fact believe that this case, while some might see it as hypocritical because one is self defense and one is not and I call for people to stand up for themselves, actually strengthens my argument.
This family had complained to the police, had complained to the community, and nothing was done. And so he did it himself. And after that, the justice system again did nothing. It’s a frightening cycle where you see Sweden standing by, on both ends of the spectrum. The justice system stood by. And then the family took it into their own hands. And again, the justice system stood by. Nothing was aided by the Swedish system. It became a laissez-faire attitude in which violence was met with violence.
** (Added Friday May 9th, 2008) Thought I should add a note here. There has been a bit of outcry against these judgments. Although there are still a lot of people who agree. But in the end, the Swedish system has allowed for these sorts of things to happen.