UnNews:Speaker at Norwegian summer camp was apparently persuasive, motivational; Impact is projected to have changed “scores of lives”
23 July 2011
OSLO, Norway -- It didn’t start out that way. Youths attending a summer retreat on Norway’s Utoeya Island were less than fully respectful for the guest speaker that came to talk at their assembly on Friday. Mere minutes after the man, dressed as a policeman, was set to speak, a disturbing percentage of the roughly 700 teens and young adults filling the otherwise solemn meeting room were not only failing to sit or stand still as is commonly the case with increasingly inattentive youth these days, but also – according to the report of the camp’s organizers and counsellors – running wildly about the room in frenetic directions.
It was “panic and chaos”, witnesses said, as some of the young people attempted, with an arguable measure of disrespect and fidgeting, to ditch the talk, fleeing the room, while still others appeared even to rush the unexpected evening caller, as if believing the policeclothed officer to somehow represent a real or simulated threat to their collective safety.
Admittedly, the teens at the camp had not been informed ahead of time that someone as important as could wear a uniform of their state’s law enforcement body would soon be provoking fear and anxiety among their ranks, projecting small compartmentalised bits of his message in what was apparently intentioned as his own personal vague address to the future of his country but in some sense took the more precisely tapered form of little indiscriminate messages that resonated individually – and indeed were occasionally targeted – towards a particular camper or a group of campers who happened to just be in the crowd that day.
The meeting he had walked into had not been scheduled, and in some sense, he could be said to have been “crashing” the event. The original purpose of the assembly was reportedly for staffers to address some minor concerns that several of the attendees had for the safety of their families following a small national incident earlier in the day that was believed to have been an isolated occurrence.
People were exuberantly sharing the information about the episode at home when a man identifying himself as a police officer asked if he could come in and make a statement. Seeing his authoritative dress and impressive equipment, "We, of course, allowed him to come [in]”, organizers and campers proudly recount, with a nod to the enormous and unchecked respect afforded law enforcement officers in countries other than the US.
It turns out, however, that this interruption of the stranger must have been genuinely important to him and what he believed to be a necessary lesson to the children. As would later become evident, this effective motivationalist had exerted some considerable degree of effort to make his announcement to the students, workers, and itinerant teenage idlers assembled at his government’s Labour Party’s annual Workers’ Youth League seasonal encampment a pointed one.
To deliver his announcement, the man had been forced by exigent circumstances to travel unannounced by ferry to the island from the mainland, apparently needing to acquire a change of clothes in the process, expediting his journey directly from a previous engagement in Oslo earlier that same day.
The man, who said he was a police officer who needed to investigate the state of the island’s security following an anomalous incident in the country’s capital, was so dedicated and prepared as to bring along and transport by boat, for the purposes of his planned demonstration to the students, a handgun, an assault weapon, a shotgun, and even a quantity of unexploded ordinance to get his point about their safety across.
Most all of these various learning aids were used extensively with the students in the several hours the man was allowed to spend with them before having to leave, accompanied and protected by a group of men with similar clothing and superior armament.
Even if it was true that his audience was a captive one, it was certainly not true that those to whom his literal and figurative salvos were directed were lacking in proper objectivity and evasion. Minutes after he had politely asked them to rally around him in a tight, inescapable space, the campers, counsellors, and guest instructors and functionaries from Norway’s own government seemed instead to be “running away” from his voice, almost as if they were afraid of what he was going to say or do next.
Some witnesses, many of whom an independent investigation has preliminarily concluded to be somewhat potentially unreliable, have inveighed against the notion that the man was articulate, averring that his speech instead descended into incoherent screaming, barked orders, and excessive appeals to pathos.
This is not to detract from conceptions of the man’s way with crowds of people. As investigatory agents and reporters are only beginning to discover and then immediately attest, this particular individual really had a way with people, his message of hope and call to leadership having already reached over a hundred people earlier that day. Now his unstoppable force and unflagging energy in the service of effecting change would be directed squarely at the Arctic-adjacent country's children.
“He really brought the room to its knees, ja? … and then to its feet. And all of this happened within a very small interval”, said Olaf Nordikson, a counselor at the camp who has recently become unemployed.
The man’s demonstration of his commitment to his point was reportedly very convincing, his evangelism only helped by the fact that after he simply made some very loud noises, no person in the room was reported to have any longer doubted his convictions. Kids like that stuff after all. Confronting that group of fair-haired young people and their new older best friends, he was like “a man possessed”, a cliche we don’t care to credit said.
Perhaps his rapt audience was just bent, as most politicians and political aspirants are, on the task of self-preservation. Perhaps they didn’t just like what he had to say. Perhaps they couldn’t understand the metaphorical significance of his actions that day. Perhaps they disagreed with his controversial motivational methods, which began with the incentives that he dispensed liberally, like a fine showman or timeshare jockey, into a crowd that was all too unwilling – yet all too unable to refuse – to accept them.
In any case, what followed was what some opine to have been a shameful game of hide-and-seek perpetrated by not only the children on the island, but also many of the adults as well. Fortunately, some deserters didn’t escape the room, and were immediately made an example of, in a sense becoming an integral part of the well-dressed blonde stranger’s as-yet unarticulated message. Others, however, allegedly fled the area and attempted to conceal themselves in the island’s bountiful Nordic wilds.
Many of these unsporting players, indeed, proved to be cheaters, purportedly hiding in spots conventionally deemed to be “out of bounds”, “cheap”, or “unfair” in the proud tradition of the storied game. As some will doubtless remember from their schoolyard days, “hide-and-seek” is a midday amusement where a lone individual will attempt to, in quick succession, find and dispatch every other person in the area until no one is left standing. Astute readers will recall that it is typically the case with hide-and-seek that the finder may not in fact hit all of his marks before the time afforded him has elapsed.
While in this instance the initial score was believed to have been verified only at a paltry ten, currently an impressive 85 persons are considered to have been rounded up and dealt with by the surprise contestant in this performance alone. Career statistics are pending.
Some “jumped into the water while others took shelter in caves or bushes, or climbed trees”, according to news agencies that are purported to be “more reliable, with at least an inkling of respect and professionalism” than this one. Others, however, flouted traditional rulesets which generally prohibit attempting to swim away unnoticed from the zone of play.
Their floundering attempts at escape would have ultimately been more successful, analysts surmise, if only the Scandinavian country’s summer camp had offered swim lessons as is typically the case at a summer camp, rather than hosting civics lessons, “leadership” seminars, and meet-and-greets while serving as a centre for the ruling party’s political indoctrination of youth generally, a practice of instilling values early in life that is far more prevalent in Continental politics than an outside observer educated in the Western values of democracy and objectivity might generally expect.
A far more grievous breach of sportsmanlike courtesy manifested itself when a large percentage of participants tried to pretend that they were already eliminated. Both Barack Obama of the American federal government and a number of attention seekers at a largely ineffectual international fringe group calling itself “The United Nations” have come out condemning what they call were the innumerable shameful “acts of cowardice” that came to light that day. Mr. Obama was later overheard finishing a story that ended, "And that's why I never liked summer camp".
The visitor, however, whose previous job the day before was as a fertilizer procurement consultant, proved to be a phenomenal seeker despite such obvious cheating, and in the end was not fooled, exposing many of the pranksters and putting an end to their efforts to escape him.
In the spirit of youth education, his game was apparently augmented by a number of stylish and tasteful war cries (verbal flourishes, really) which included the phrase “I’m going to kill you!” and the oft-ignored option that a hide-and-seek player customarily reserves in the form of the classically-refined quip, “YOU SHALL ALL DIE!”, an utterance often exercised in some form or another by the game’s more notorious players ever since its introduction in wartime (and its more recent reintroduction in American public schools) centuries ago.
The visiting entertainer was evidently a master of suspense even when he wasn’t behind the podium: even as a player was lying on the ground, faking an injury, the man was sometimes magnanimous enough not to remove him from the game, instead choosing to feign his elimination and consequently give the kid a bit of a playful scare.
"I could feel his breath. I could hear his boots”, said a player with a healthy appreciation of the man’s serious yet gleeful demeanour.
Still, a number of rules-dodgers and ASBO-deserts continued to make use of contentious and questionably valid means of escaping their stalwart pursuer. One girl, whose mother Sonya Ericsson makes the painful confession for her, reportedly hid in a toilet, a blanket term which confused American readers should take pains to remember can refer to a general facility or specific outdoor installation rather than the load-bearing fixture itself. The more disturbing aspect of the entire body of her poor conduct, however, arose from the fact that, inside, she was secretly employing the SMS functionality of her mobile, or as other less precise correspondents prefer to term it, “texting”.
This behaviour, widely viewed as rude and now perceived as exceedingly common among youngsters 9 to 49 years of age, has long been observed as practiced simultaneously with the comparatively simple tasks of driving, mealtime conversation, and even the delivery of court testimony, but has never before been observed in this sacrosanct setting of a hide-and-seek game, much less a one as impressive as this marathon session.
Elsewhere, to give the example of a standardised test, another situation in which children often devote their time and attention, a participant’s use of an unapproved electronic device, especially one equipped with long-range signalling capabilities, is deemed an unfair advantage and, usually, grounds for summary termination. Without question, there will be calls from the public that the same principle should have been applied in these circumstances.
But it is perhaps imprudent to overhastily condemn the role technology has to play in this incident. Perhaps The Secret to His Success™ can be found, as seemingly all news items these days are, in the details and activity divulged in a questionably legal and certainly dubiously ethical examination of the man’s private online accounts.
Indeed, it has come to the attention of this newsdesk that this man now sheltered by police has or has had a Facebook on which he describes himself as an athletic blonde-haired, blue-green-eyed, conservative Christian whose interests include bodybuilding, freemasonry, political action, and what reputable sources equate to hints of his possible experimentation with neo-Nazism. Surely his fledgling Twitter feed, which features but a single quote by Utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill betrays his extremely right-wing and conservative, libertarian leanings that can only now be viewed as the fundaments of his success.
It certainly speaks to both his own persuasive prowess as well as what must have been a pillar of his message, his apparent belief and willingness to share that belief in the Power of One™: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests". And a discernible lack of defensive weaponry, apparently.
One can only ponder how much more effective and complete the message and motives of the gentleman caller who visited the summer camp that fateful Friday afternoon and touched so many lives that day would have been if only had he taken more pains to increase his online presence to other privacy-sundering social networking services such as Foursquare, Flickr, Reddit and Formspring.
Sadly, the game as well as the man’s educative visit to the island retreat was cut tragically short that night as he was brought into custody by apparently more authentic law enforcers, individuals who happened to be even more heavily armed than himself. He is currently being questioned at an undisclosed location, either at a local politistasjon, or more likely, at one of the nation’s insecure second-rate military installations, in association with a mysterious explosion of earlier that day in addition to the question of the dozens of bodies strewn about the island since his arrival.
Attempts to access or modify the victims’ voicemail have met with little success, and the suspect’s family has failed to return our calls.
- "Norway mulls explosion, returns dumbfounded" BBC World News, 23 Jul 2011