The tragic and untimely death of swimmer Alexander Dale Oen made the BBC News front page today. Over to Auntie:
Emergency services arrived at the scene within minutes but were unable to revive him.
Dale Oen won gold in the 100 m breaststroke at the World Championships in Shanghai in July 2011.
His triumph came just days after the attack in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik which killed 77 people.
Sorry, what? One sentence this guy is swimming very fast, the next sentence (or, equivalently, paragraph on the Beeb), we’re being reminded that his death pales into insignificance next to a massacre which took place in his homeland, with eerie temporal proximity to his win. Wait, did I say ‘eerie’? Two events happening not-even-simultaneously? One of which was a very competent swimmer doing very well at swimming? The probabilities boggle the mind. At least they do if you’re a BBC News editor, apparently.
Even if it were a genuinely noteworthy coincidence—which it isn’t—it might not be worth noting. Does it contextualise Norway to remind us of a racist with a gun fixation and a catalogue of delusions?
‘Oh, that Norway. I got a bit confused when you said “Norway”, because I was thinking about Congo, but now you’ve reminded me of Anders Behring Breivik—can we mention his name again? It’s way more memorable than “Norway”—Anders Behring Breivik, mighty Scandinavian anti-hero, I now understand which Norway you were talking about. But I don’t want to go to that Norway. It sounds dangerous to me. I heard about some swimmer or other. He wasn’t called Anders Behring Breivik. But he was from Congo too, and he died.’
Is the essence of Norwegianity really a blond-haired, blue-eyed, pathetic massacring shit? Isn’t that what Breivik himself thinks? Oh dear God, what have we become?