Offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person
September 13, 2008 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Sabrina Guzzanti, an Italian comedienne who said that Pope Benedict XVI would go to Hell and be tormented by homosexual demons is facing a prison term of up to five years, according to the provisions of the Lateran treaty.

The July rally was called to protest against alleged interference by the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Italian affairs, from abortion to gay rights, but also to attack the Prime Minister for passing "ad personam" laws to protect his own interests and avoid prosecution on corruption allegations.

Three years ago Ms Guzzanti released a widely praised film, Viva Zapatero!, about the suppression in 2003 of her late night show RAIot in which she had satirised the Italian Prime Minister.

Antonio Di Pietro, a senator and former anti-corruption magistrate, who organised the rally, said that Ms Guzzanti had only "exercised her constitutional right to freedom of thought. [...] To put people in prison for what they think is reminiscent of a time when those who thought differently had castor oil poured down their throats" — a reference to the Fascist era, when the Lateran Treaty was enacted.
posted by ersatz (21 comments total)
That first link reminds me that I love how the English speak differently, like when they say "poofter" instead of "tourist."
posted by resurrexit at 5:18 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

No offense, foreigners, but I really do think we Yanks have the whole First Amendment thing right.

I guess nobody else takes that as seriously as we do, but man, I sure don't trust anyone, not even Italian prosecutors, to jail people for engaging in "hate speech."
posted by ibmcginty at 5:21 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Whatever happened to "turning the other cheek," Pope Palpatine? Too hard to do in those red Prada loafers of yours?
posted by at 5:22 PM on September 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

Mr Berlusconi, who owns Italy's three main commercial television channels and as Prime Minister also wields influence over RAI, the state broadcaster. . .

Well that's . . . interesting.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 5:27 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

No offense, foreigners, but I really do think we Yanks have the whole First Amendment thing right.

Yep. You even have convenient areas you can go to where you can say whatever you want!
posted by Talez at 5:28 PM on September 13, 2008 [6 favorites]

Prosecutorial zeal. I'll bet the Pope wants nothing to do with this; I predict this will go away.
posted by resurrexit at 5:29 PM on September 13, 2008

From the first link:
Prosecution requires authorisation from the Ministry of Justice, for which Mr Ferrara has applied.
So, in other words, she's not even being prosecuted yet...
posted by Jahaza at 6:13 PM on September 13, 2008

posted by DU at 6:16 PM on September 13, 2008

Damn... Shows my ignorance of contemporary Europe, I had never even glanced over the provisions of the Lateran treaty. Yet more proof that Established religions suck.

resurrexit While I have little doubt that Pope "Benedict" [1] had anything to do with the charges, I rather doubt he'll intervene to get them dropped either. He isn't popular, and frankly he doesn't need to be or have the possibility of being popular.

More to the point, it appears that Guzzanti is a thorn in the side of Italy's dictator prime minister, and the charges of lèse majesté are a convenient way for him to shut her up. I'll bet it not only goes to trial, but that she gets the maximum penalty.

[1] Isn't pride still one of the deadly sins? Where's he get off with a name like that, sheesh.
posted by sotonohito at 6:20 PM on September 13, 2008

Should she ever get tried and the case not get thrown out in the Italian appellate system, I suspect the ECHR will have something to say on the matter ... five years later.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:35 PM on September 13, 2008

[Pope Benedict] isn't popular, and frankly he doesn't need to be or have the possibility of being popular.
The extent to which Benedict actually convinces the French to take a new look at laïcité remains to be seen. He may at least, however, get the benefit of the doubt; a poll published in the Parisian on Thursday found that 53 percent of the French have a “very positive” or “positive” view of the pope, as opposed to just 25 percent with a “negative” or “very negative” view. The pope’s approval rating rises to 65 percent among French Catholics.
A LeMoyne College/Zogby International poll being released today shows that Pope Benedict XVI's approval rating among American Catholics is 70 percent. ... "It's still very high," Loveland said. "There are very few world leaders who would be complaining about a 70 percent approval. By his very nature he speaks out about controversial issues."
And that last poll was taken before the Pope's U.S. visit, after which it was expected to go up. I couldn't find numbers for Italy itself, but I think the burden of proof is on the side that wants to say the Pope is unpopular.
Isn't pride still one of the deadly sins? Where's he get off with a name like that, sheesh.
You know how he's Benedict the Sixteenth? It's cause there's a little bit of a tradition of Popes taking new names... Catholics believe it goes all the way back to the Bible:
And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
I'll take you up on your offer to bet... I'll bet $20 dollars it doesn't go to trial.
posted by Jahaza at 6:49 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

resurrexit, poofter is British for gay man.
posted by nickyskye at 6:52 PM on September 13, 2008

I predict massive overreach.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:36 PM on September 13, 2008

It's hard to fathom the reasoning based on the Lateran Treaty.

I mean, based on the decree in the Fourth Lateran Council "Diabolus enim et alii daemones" essentially equates no real distinction in terms of ecclesiastical usage between 'devil' and 'demon' in the sense of nature. That is, in James 2:19 and Luke 11:15 to 18, Satan is included in the class of demons (daemones) and the distinction in the Vulgate New Testament distinguishes Satan not in kind but in level such that demons are subordinate to him and he then is the chief demon (in Greek diabolos).

Oh, sure, in Persian and Sanskrit etymology you've got daeva, but they're still evil spirits. And even the devas of Indian theology, while good, are still pure spirits.
And in the more abstract root "eydaimon" meaning "happy" or etymologically - one who was guarded by a good spirit.

And you've got the "Daemon" of Socrates and Plato and Xenophon use the term "daimonion" which Cicero calls "divinum aliguid" or "something divine" - but in every case we're still talking a purely insubstantial entity. In the case of Socrates it's the dictates of his conscience.

So I have deep and grave misgivings about assigning any physical traits at all much less a further extrapolation from brute fact to a matter of sexual - much less human sexual - attribute.

It makes no more sense than saying the electromagnetic wavelength 3 terahertz is homosexual or the 14.4 keV nuclear transition of Fe-57 is into kinky sex or even a more abstract concept that has no bearing on the physical world having not only physical properties but reiterative intelligent orientation within the physical realm.

So it's not really a proper joke, is it?

...oh, I see it's about Italian prosecutors after her for the joke.

Well, that's even worse and stupider, isn't it?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:35 PM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Pope and Berlusconi have nothing to do with this (for once!). I don't want to go in the legality of this (basically offending the Pope is like offending the president, according to some interpretations of the italian law).
I hope she don't go in prison even if after she was kicked from RAI her comedy started to be very annoying and not funny at all, like she tried to be an italian version of Michael Moore without the talent. Her brother and sister are so much better than her.
posted by darkripper at 2:21 AM on September 14, 2008

My feelings for Italy are the same as to the USA. The first time they voted for Berlusconi I was sorry for them, the second time not so much.

And yes, Berlusconi apparently has nothing to do with this but his government has created the conditions to let this type of thing happen ever since he started fingerprinting gypsy kids or having a minister say fascism wasn't so evil as they say.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 3:43 AM on September 14, 2008

Jahaza Ok, so for some unfathomable reason Pope Palpatine is popular. I'm stunned. Still, my point stands, he doesn't *need* to be popular, it isn't as if he's accountable in any way whatsoever to rank and file Catholics so he's got no real reason to try and quash the prosecution of Guzzanti.

As far as his name goes, I'm well aware of the tradition of choosing papal names. I'm also aware of his official reasons for making the choice he did. I still think calling yourself a blessing is massively egotistical.
posted by sotonohito at 5:41 AM on September 14, 2008

Lucia I think it's a bit of a stretch to connect the decisions by the new government with the thing that is going on with Sabina Guzzanti. We have those weird laws about disrespecting the flag and the president that I think should be removed or at least not enforced because are simply stupid.
posted by darkripper at 5:50 AM on September 14, 2008

Darkripper, I'm not saying it's a direct connection, I'm saying when you have a government which seems to disregard basic democratic freedom this sort of things is bound to happen. Political climate.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 6:20 AM on September 14, 2008

Yeah, sorry, it was a lame attempt to reference Arrested Development.
posted by resurrexit at 9:50 AM on September 14, 2008

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