One killed

Reuters says one person was killed in the shootings in Copenhagen.

One civilian was killed and three police were wounded on Saturday in shooting at a public meeting in the Danish capital Copenhagen attended by the controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks, police and the Danish Ritzau news agency reported.

Danish police confirmed one civilian had been killed in a shooting and said the suspects had fled in a car.

Ritzau said both Vilks and the French ambassador, who was also attending, were both unharmed, but that three police had been wounded. The gathering was billed as a debate on art and blasphemy.

Just over a month ago, 17 people were killed in France in three days of violence that began when two Islamist gunmen burst into the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, opening fire in revenge for its publication of satirical images of the Prophet Mohammad.

Bad bad bad bad news. The implications are horrific.


  1. Vincent says

    Just to nitpick but some friends and I have decided to be adamant on the matter : 20 persons were killed in the Paris attacks, not 17. The three terrorists were killed by the police and that is no way to render justice in a democracy. That is an injustice whatever they did (and dog nose I hated them for what they did). I wished for a fair trial. Protecting free speech by shooting criminals in the street is not our ideal of social justice. So… 20, please.

  2. says

    No, and fuck off. They committed suicide by cop. They weren’t “shot in the street”; they fired on the police or were holding hostages. Fuck off and take your “some friends” with you.

  3. Anne Fenwick says

    @1 – I agree Vincent, I very much wanted them taken alive, although I believe the police did too, and those guys were determined to make it impossible for them. At any rate they are dead, martyrs to their stupid cause as I suppose they wanted to be.

    In the meantime, this seems to me like a good time to actively contribute something towards bringing down blasphemy laws. I hope and think that will be the basic reaction of the public to the second blasphemy/free speech terrorist act in Europe in as many months. I’ll be picking an organization to donate to.

    The other thing I do is systematically remind religious people of the unsupported (and therefore unreceivable) nature of their beliefs whenever I end up encountering them in public debates. I feel it’s important to remind them that many religious beliefs are in themselves offensive to me and that they need to think about reciprocity.

  4. Saad says


    Did they surrender to the police? Were they posing a very serious threat to the public?

    I second the fuck off.

  5. Anne Fenwick says

    The Americans seem easygoing about dispensing ‘instant justice’ whenever they’re quite sure of their rights and wrongs.

  6. says

    Yes, Anne Fenwick, that’s exactly what I said. I didn’t mention anything about the fact that they were shooting as opposed to surrendering, or that they were holding hostages with a clear willingness – in fact eagerness – to kill them. Also I stand for “The Americans.”

    I wonder how you would take it if I said something that stupid and rude about “The French.”

  7. says

    Also Vincent @ 1 – it’s a ridiculous inversion of meaning to say attackers are among the people killed “in the Paris attacks.” The attackers weren’t killed in the attacks; the attackers killed a lot of people and then escaped by car. The attackers did the killing that happened in the attacks.

  8. says

    I agree with Vincent. “Suicide by cop” is no excuse for police violence. I usually describe incidents in terms of people killed and role. I.e.: “17 civilians, 3 attackers killed”

    In the case of the hostage situation, it would make sense for the police to storm the place if the attackers were shooting hostages or appeared to be about to start. But until then – negotiate. Storming in, in Porte De Vincennes resulted in several people being wounded in addition to 2 police officers – the attackers were killed. In the Lindt hostage crisis in Sydney, the attacker appeared incompetent (several hostages escaped) and one of the hostages was killed by gunfire from the police when they stormed the building. The attacker, of course, was killed. In fairness to the police, he had begun to execute hostages and one of the hostages attacked him, triggering the police assault.

    Law enforcement is not (and should not be) competent to handle these kind of situations, because generally they are quite rare and don’t happen in the same locale frequently. There is an entire art of negotiation for de-escalating such situations, and all too often jurisdictional pissing contests prevent getting the right people in before it’s time to count the corpses. The US’ FBI has a horrible history of getting this wrong, ironically when their “hostage rescue team” is involved (a hostage is more likely to die if the HRT is trying to rescue them than otherwise!)

    Frequently, attackers become case studies in how broken their ideas and ideals are. Zacharias Moussaoui has repeatedly shown himself to be a buffoon. Denying attackers “martyrdom” is not only the moral move for a democratic society to make, it’s politically sensible, as well. Norway handled Anders Breivik right; it’s possible to deal with these situations without increasing the bloodbath. Again, Breivik has demonstrated his beliefs to be shallow and repugnant – he is better for everyone alive and serving as an object lesson, than as a martyr.

    The American media is horrible in how it reports casualty figures, and that is why I agree with Vincent’s argument. We hear “4000 dead in Iraq” (or whatever) – No, it was 300,000 dead Iraqis and 4000 dead Americans. “57000 dead in Vietnam” – No it was 500,000+ dead Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians and 57000 dead Americans. Etc.

    Lastly, “suicide by cop” is often a sign of incompetent policing. Please don’t sweep that under the rug!! Because doing so sets up the argument the police made in Ferguson – that Brown committed “suicide by cop” – neatly un-asking the questions like why the cop didn’t drive away and call for backup, or carry and use the non-leathal options he had been issued, etc. Please do not perpetuate the “suicide by cop” myth!

  9. Holms says

    Unless they were shot in cold blood as judgement for their attacks, they were not dispensed ‘instant justice’ in the slightest. While I would have preferred them surviving to be sentenced to multiple life sentences without parole, if they had decided no cop was going to take them alive, then they force the hand of the police.

  10. Anne Fenwick says

    @8 – I agree with Vincent. “Suicide by cop” is no excuse for police violence.

    Quite. As I said, i think the police had little option if they wanted to prevent other deaths, but the phrase ‘suicide by cop’ is inherently objectionable. The Islamic extremists believe in ‘suicide by drawing Mohammad’! Those murderers were killed by the police and although this may have been unavoidable, it’s always a tragedy for us, for democracy, that it had to happen.

  11. Katherine Woo says

    So are Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins to blame for this violence as well? I can’t keep up with the Atheism+ blame game anymore.

  12. Anne Fenwick says

    And yeah, as it was happening, I hoped we would emerge with dignity of Norway after the Breivik attacks, but it was not to be.

  13. says

    Of course it’s a tragedy that it had to happen, but they made sure it did happen. The Tsernaev brothers did the same thing in Boston; so did the mass murderers in Bombay.

  14. says

    “Frequently, attackers become case studies in how broken their ideas and ideals are.”

    Translation: atheist apologists for religion like Marcus are devoted to uncovering “root causes” which blame poverty, racism, ‘imperialism’, America, and, of course, Zionism, which leave the religion suspiciously unmarred.

    True to form Marcus babbles about the FBI, Frguson, Breivik, and the Vietnam War (which ended forty years ago) in response to an Islamist attack in Denmark, driven by Islamic dogma on blasphemy today.

    It would be comical, if it were not such a widespread tactic to preserve the fiction that Islam and the example of Mohammed are not directly to blame for this violent assault on artistic and critical freedom.

  15. says

    i think the police had little option if they wanted to prevent other deaths

    I disagree.

    Did the attacker have a gas mask? Because, if he didn’t, he could have been incapacitated with tear-gas. I’ve experienced that, and, please believe me – it works, and its effect is temporary. The room-entry team carried 9mm hollow points in their weapons; why weren’t they carrying tasers and beanbag guns? They had a flash-bang handy and used that to stun the attacker long enough to shoot him full of holes (and shoot a hostage, too) being hit with a taser is absolutely and instantly incapacitating. So is a shot in the face with pepper spray; you can ask some of the protesters in Berkeley about that. But when you look at the footage of room entry assaults, what you see is a lot of guys waving great big badass guns. And, you know, they’re dying to get a shot in.

    The attacker in Sydney was hit with 7 bullets out of 27 fired. For fuck’s sake, that’s incompetent fire-control; it’s like something from the St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

    I do think it’s reasonable to have a sniper across the street with a scope-sighted rifle and heavy bullets, as a final fall-back. But as we saw at Ruby Ridge, that also can go horribly wrong if the sniper is a fuckup.

  16. says

    Katherine Woo:
    atheist apologists for religion like Marcus

    Clearly you have no fucking idea what I think. It’d be best not to just try to make shit up about what other people believe, because then it’s just too easy for someone to blow you off as clueless.

    Just because I’m not following your lead and foaming at the mouth about how awful Islam is, doesn’t mean I in any way support or attempt to excuse or apologize for violence. I happen to disagree that the cause of the violence is just because “islam: bad” as you appear to be claiming. Because if “islam: bad” then you’ve got to explain why it is that so many muslims are quite devout and peaceful. Could it be that the violent ones are the ones that are angered to violence over events in the political sphere and not simply the religious sphere? That would neatly dovetail with the fact that political strife and religious violence seem to happen in the same places. Your “islam: bad” theory doesn’t account for that, does it.

  17. Anne Fenwick says

    @15 – It’s true that I wonder how we can have become so good at rendering large animals temporarily unconscious from a distance, but when it comes to rampaging humans we appear to have very little clue. It’s not my field of expertise, but the rate of bringing mass killers of any kind to court is pitifully low.

  18. says

    Clearly you have no fucking idea what I think. It’d be best not to just try to make shit up about what other people believe, because then it’s just too easy for someone to blow you off as clueless.

    Marcus I have seen you carrying water for Islam for years here with your Karen Armstrong-esque “political sphere” excuses. Despite your outrage, you even turn around and admit my central charge is correct:

    Because if ‘islam: bad’ then you’ve got to explain why it is that so many muslims are quite devout and peaceful.

    Religious critics have repeatedly addressed this shallow canard. Individual and group psychology plays a large role in how individuals within a population react to an ideology. The Chapel Hill murderer reminds us that ideology (an orthodox progressive in his stated views, including on Muslims) and personal behavior can be quite disconnected. To take your views ad absurdum, members of the Nazi Party risked their lives to save many Jews during the Holocaust and thus by your ‘reasoning’ Nazism is not to blame either.

    No serious thinker who ultimately blames religion sees it in a vacuum, but rather that religion is the essential element without which certain things like, murdering people over cartoons, become extraordinarily less likely.

    Also given the extreme levels of domestic violence in many Muslim societies, the broad support for corporal punishment, and the widespread nature of FGM, how “peaceful” are ordinary Muslims really? Like many privileged, Western leftists, you frame the issue of ‘Islam’ narrowly around terrorism and not other forms of violence. And if you change the subject to Christianity, which is what your ilk typically does, you just admit my criticisms are on point.

    But please spew more profanity, it shows me what a mature, thinking person you are.

  19. says

    Since Breivik was mentioned above, perhaps I should mention that he did, indeed, come very close to being killed by the police. There are two reasons he did not: One, it was part of his game plan to let himself be taken alive by the police, and two, the police officer who caught him had a ton of training – he was a member of the anti-terrorism squad – and managed to keep his cool. But he came very close to firing on Breivik when Breivik reached for some object that might have been a gun (but wasn’t).

    I am all for finding ways to avoid the killing of perpetrators, no matter how bad they may be, but it’s all too easy to pronounce judgement from the safety of our armchairs when some of them do get killed by the police.

  20. says

    Thank you, Harald, that’s useful to know.

    I too think it’s better not to kill the perps – not least because that closes off the main source of information. But in the Paris situation…they were killing people as they went. The calculation isn’t like that with a more ordinary criminal, who has some self-interest. An ordinary criminal wants to get away; the Kouachi brothers wanted to kill as many people as they could. The police had compelling reasons to prevent them from escaping.

  21. Lady Mondegreen says

    To take your views ad absurdum, members of the Nazi Party risked their lives to save many Jews during the Holocaust and thus by your ‘reasoning’ Nazism is not to blame either.

    Oh, bullshit. Name one person who actually believed in the Nazi ideology who risked their lives to save the Nazis’ enemies.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of peaceful Muslims in the world who abhor violence, including FGM and the other horrors you mention.

    For the record, I’m not agreeing with Marcus, either. Blaming Islamist violence on geopolitics is just as wrong as blaming it on Islam. Both are likely factors, along with plenty of others, like patriarchy, as well as a desire for power, personal and group psychology–in other words, the all-too-human (and all-too-universal) tendency toward authoritarianism.

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