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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Censorship of the Web in Italy

My Translation with comments in [].

Pope - The magistrate Marco Patarnello has ordered the [temporary] preventive seisure of the site indymedia [] for villification of the Catholic faith and of the Pope. The prosecutor Salvatore Vitello requested this action, since an investigation by the DIGOS [police specialised in crimes against national security] revealed that there were montaged photos on the site showing Pope Benedict XVI in a Nazi military uniform.

In the leading leftist site, the Pope was called a "Nazi" and criminally insulted with insults in Spanish. Indymedia belongs to the Brazilian firm Imc, sso the prosecutor has decided to make an offial request that foreign judges take note of the act.

The authorisation of the minister of justice is required to open an offical judicial investigation of the crime of villifying the Pope. The prosecutor has already requested this action. In ordering the preventive seisure, the magistrate accepted the prosecutors assertions holding tht the content of the site displays contempt both for religious sentiment and for the Pope's person. The criminal insult against Benedict XVI would therefore be evident, as would that against the Catholic faith which is protected by the norm in the criminal code which declares villification to be a crime.

PAPA - Il gip Marco Patarnello ha disposto il sequestro preventivo del sito Indymedia per vilipendio della religione cattolica e della figura del Papa. A sollecitare il provvedimento era stato il pm Salvatore Vitello, in quanto dagli accertamenti della Digos era emerso che sul sito vi erano fotomontaggi di Papa Benedetto XVI in uniforme militare nazista.

You got problems over there in the USA. We have problems over here in Italy.

A note for the puzzled: Yes the Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. However, since it also guarantees the right to health (not health care health) and the right to a job (well the unemployment rate is down to about 9%), rights guaranteed in the constitution are not trumps. They are hopes and wishes not absolute requirements. Many laws declare various speach acts crimes even if they are not part of conspiracies. The only politician who advocates change is Umberto Bossi the foul mouthed head of the Lega (which he claims has a hard on). He support for freedom of speech is, to say the least, not disinterested.

Original text at La Repubblica.

Story from Reuters.

update: I can't get indymedia to open, but I think that is just because the news has lead to it being overwhelmed with traffic.

Update 2: I have gotten through to The huge spike of traffic due to the "sequestro" has subsided. Once I got there, I learned that they have also been under denial of service attack for a while. Indymedia's legal responsibility is unclear. They claim that they allow people to post without editing the posts. This means that, in the USA, they would be protected. Of course in the USA the post would not raise legal issues, since the USA takes freedom of speach seroiusly.

Another thing is that the photoshopped photo does not superimpose the face of Benedict XVI on a uniform like the luftwaffe antiaircraft brigade uniform he wore from the time he was drafted and did not choose immediate martyrdom until the day in 1944 in which he risked execution by deserting. Instead it appears to be superimposed on what appears to me to be a brownshirt (SA) uniform. At least the uniform has a prominent armband with a swastika. This weakens the argument that the insult is factually accurate, since it suggests that Benedict XVI was a nazi not a draftee of the Nazi goverment. Thus the post is an extreme expression of opinion, not a figurative representation of fact. Also the verbal insults (which are not in Spanish on the site itself pace La Repubblica) are not factual, they might be considered false or they might be considered metaphorical expressions of opinion, but they are not literally true.

In any case to clarify the legal issues I hereby demonstrate that if anyone is guilty I am. I am blogging from via delle vigne di collereti 6 I-00044 Frascati (RM) and clearly subject to Italian law. I am Robert Waldmann Nato a Washington DC il 9/11/1960 e residente a via delle vigne di Collereti 6 I-00044 Frascati (RM) codice fiscale WLDRRT60S09Z404T and I am hereby committing the crimes of vilipendio della religione cattolica e della figura del Papa if anyone is.

Update: I removed the actual vilipendio. I'm not afraid of the Italian state but this site's google referrals dropped suddenly the day after I posted it and I suspect that google suspects that I am a n*zi or something. Big Brother is trying to watch you but he doesn't have google's algorithms. Might be I got in trouble over the post above "funny google referrals to this site". Probably I am just paranoid.

I will just translate the last line of the original alleged vilipendio (which was certainly not factual but which I consider a legal metaphorical expression of opinion).

QUESTO PAPA e' proprio intollerante , na*ista , schiavista , odia le donne in maniera particolare e metterebbe nei forni gli uomini sessuali !!

This Pope is really intollerant, n*zi, pro slavery, especially hates women and would put sexual men in the furnaces.

Notice the last type of potential victims of Benedict XVI. I think anti Pa meant to write omosessuali (homosexuals). This does tend to support the idea that anti Pa is not Italian. Readers of my efforts to write Italian will mention the mote in my neighbor's eye and the beem in mine.

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