August 2, 2011

IconMedia silence on heroic couple who saved 40 lives

A lesbian couple in Norway saved the lives of 40 young people during the mass shooting committed by Anders Behring Breivik on 22 July. However, their bravery has been largely ignored by the English-language media.

Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen rescued four boatloads of people whilst under fire during the massacre on the island of Ut√łya.

“We were eating. Then shooting and then the awful screaming. We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake,” Dalen told Helsingin Sanomat, a popular Finnish paper.

The massacre, which took place at a youth camp held by Norway’s Labour party following the bombing of government buildings in Oslo, received widespread international news coverage. However, Dalen and Hansen’s story has been told almost exclusively by the bloggers and the LGBT press within the English-speaking world.

“Several blogs and gay and lesbian publications are now picking up the story, but the heavy hitters who usually kill for hero stories like this, have remained silent,” commented Jamie McGonnigal of Talk About Equality in a blog post entitled “If a Married Lesbian Couple Saves 40 Teens from the Norway Massacre and No One Writes About it, Did it Really Happen?

This sentiment was echoed by the queer/travel blog Band of Thebes: “The mainstream U.S. media, which loves a hero story almost as much as a tragedy, has been uniformly silent about the lesbian superstars. Instead, you get a gay man, Bruce Bawer, in his self-serving [Wall Street Journal] piece saying how shocked he is to discover his extremist anti-Islam writings are quoted in the extremist anti-Islam writings of a killer.”

Breivik, a fundamentalist Christian, is reported to have killed eight in his bombing of government buildings and 69 in the subsequent shooting. In defending his actions, he claimed that European culture was under threat from Islam, Marxism and feminism.

4 Responses to Media silence on heroic couple who saved 40 lives

  1. Bella says:

    The story’s either been ignored, or there’s been excessive reference to the couple’s sexuality.

    But then, I’ve barely heard anything surrounding Breivik’s terrorism since the media realised he was Christian…

  2. J McK says:

    Only three men have ever been awarded the Victoria Cross on more than one occasion. Two of them were physicians of the RAMC. The heroism for which these two are rightly celebrated (my training platoon was named for Cpt N. G. Chavasse) consisted in part of returning again and again to the front to collect the wounded, even while under fire themselves. Much like this Norwegian couple did. They knew the risks and still they did what needed to be done.

    I do not know about Norway, but certainly Britain offers no award for civilian bravery prestigious enough to honour their actions.

    ****8847 Pte J. McKillop, CMT late RAMC.

  3. Moggs says:

    They clearly deserve more recognition than they are getting- I hope that they are being hailed for their bravery in Norway.

    Here in the UK i paper ran a little bit on it today… refreshingly they didn’t once mention that they were a lesbian couple! It said they were married… and clearly said that they were both female…but left it at that.

  4. Ruth.Pearce says:

    That is refreshing! The story seems to have finally hit the mainstream press in the last day, which is very interesting.

Ruth Pearce


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