Dictatorship Reloaded
June 11, 2010 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Italy is no more a democracy. According to freedom house, in 2009 the italian press was only "Partly Free"; but from today, it is definitely Not Free.
posted by - (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
But does he keep the trains on time?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes. The brains run perfectly.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:56 AM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Italy! Called it.
posted by grobstein at 10:56 AM on June 11, 2010

That ought to work really well. Luckily for Berlusconi, it's physically impossible for an Italian jurist to leak transcripts to journalists outside of Italy, and it's physically impossible for foreign news sources to provide information in Italian, and nobody in Italy can read any English whatsoever or access foreign news sources.

So it'll work well, is what I'm saying.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:04 AM on June 11, 2010

It's tempting, because they hail from the same nation, to compare Berlusconi to Mussolini. But this is a lazy contrivance – and if we're going to be that lazy then I'll suggest that he is likely to have descended directly from Machiavelli. I can't help but look at the arc of Berlusconi's political career and be amazed at what he's been able to get away with. But the same hubris is easily observed among his contemporaries in other states and political parties. The meek shall inherit the earth. Sure . . .
posted by quadog at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2010

Let's liberate those poor basterds!
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a country shaped like a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
posted by DU at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2010 [37 favorites]

*cough* Tainted Clown
posted by adamvasco at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2010

Yeah, but getting downgraded by Freedom House can mean "There's a genuine move to restrict democratic and civil rights in society" or "The country has antagonized the US in some way".

Are their any Italian MeFites who want to weigh in on this?
posted by Grimgrin at 11:26 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Alright, I'll bite. Transcripts of phone taps should be completely private and protected until they are admitted as evidence a court of law. Police have the right to gather evidence, but journalists have no right to immediate access to, or publication of, that evidence; on the contrary doing so can hamper or outright destroy an investigation. It's irresponsible policing to leak these materials and irresponsible tabloid-style journalism to destroy reputations based on early allegations which may not even constitute sufficient evidence to prosecute. There is a "public interest" to access to information, but there is an even greater public interest in access to justice.

"Does that mean we will have to wait a decade until cases get to court, before we can report on matters of public interest?"
Gianfrancesco Turano

Uhh, yes, yes it does. If cases seriously take an average of a decade to process in Italy, that is an entirely separate issue. All that said, once it's in court it is fair game; this law goes too far.
posted by mek at 11:30 AM on June 11, 2010

irresponsible tabloid-style journalism to destroy reputations based on early allegations which may not even constitute sufficient evidence to prosecute.

Sure it can be taken out of context, etc. but, barring spy movie voice imitation gadgetry, a transcript is more than just an "early allegation," it's what was actually said.
posted by juv3nal at 12:08 PM on June 11, 2010

Uhh, let's not get on our high horses here, America.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:27 PM on June 11, 2010

Here's one thing I'm wondering about this: if a journalist illegally wiretaps someone on their own, they can of course be prosecuted for performing or conspiring to perform the wiretap, but can they be prosecuted for publishing the information gained via the wiretap, and as it stands now can other unrelated journalists be prosecuted for re-publishing that information? Because if information from a private illegal wiretap can't be legally suppressed it seems kind of weird that information from a legal governmental wiretap can be.

This all reminds me of David Brin's ideas on privacy from the end of the last century, that at this point in history or sometime soon maybe we as a society should sort of just kiss privacy goodbye and embrace a ubiquitous transparency because in practicality there's really no stopping it.
posted by XMLicious at 12:36 PM on June 11, 2010

The meek shall inherit the earth.

Vatican Rescinds 'Blessed' Status Of World's Meek
posted by Skot at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I took a quick look to the online front page of several newspapers ranging from the extreme left "L'Unita" to the extreme right "L'Avvenire". Of course the attitude toward this event ranges from one extreme to the other: the right totally ignores or minimizes the event, the moderate center newspaper comes out with a blank front page in protest, and the left displays a black border to express their condolences for the death of freedom.

How do I feel as an Italian about such a loss of liberty? eh...Italy being Italy, always on the brink of anarchy, and italians being not the most law abiding or respectful citizen, newspaper will continue as usual, printing what they want to print.

Who is there really to enforce such a stupid law?
posted by francesca too at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2010

As an Italian, now living in America, I've come to the conclusion that my countrymen, although they do some things without any equal --Car design, shoes, food, sex, clothes, architecture, cute babies, literature, sex, car design shoes etc. -- pretty much anything under the sun, Italians have excelled at, but they just can't do government well...they're too busy worrying about all that other stuff I mentioned to really care about politics, it gets all mucky and weird and complicated and turns into high absurdity in about a nanosecond or extravagant hand waving and facial expressions of deep deep physical pain simply from speaking. I've come to the conclusion Italy should outsource its government, maybe to the Swedes or Norway or something, or GErmany, although that didn't work out to well the last time, even if they invented Hitler's Fascism and the trains ran on time.

And probably it's army too, to like, Finland.

Comedian Jackie Mason has this funny skit where he talks about how tough Italians are.... something like...."tough tough fighters you never want to get into a fight with an Italian..not ever...but put'em in an Army uniform...

...and dey run like hell...."
posted by Skygazer at 12:47 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Antonio Di Pietro, the prosecutor who played a leading role in the "Clean Hands" (Bribesville) enquiry which brought down the First Republic in the early 1990s and later turned to politics and founded the Italy of Values party, has promised to publish all the transcripts he can find on a website set up outside Italian jurisdiction (in Belgium), and to read them out in Parliament, thus putting them in the public domain. A visiting high-level US Justice Department official has gone on record stating that transcripts have played a pivotal role in successful US-Italian joint operations against Cosa Nostra. Most Italian dailies (with the exception of the more right-wing) are publishing lists of recent cases of criminal activity and corruption which would have failed to reach the public eye, let alone the courtroom, without the use - and publication - of transcripts.

Berlusconi's party's draft law has made it through the Senate on a vote of confidence, but still needs to win a vote in the Lower House (probably next week), where he is rumoured to be planning to call another vote of confidence, thus admitting his uncertainty about the ease of passage. His rebellious ally, Gianfranco Fini, is expressing grave doubts about the legitimacy of the bill. And finally, the law must pass the hurdle of the approval of the President of the Republic before coming into effect.

In summary: it ain't over until the fat lady sings.
posted by aqsakal at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2010

...and dey run like hell...."

FWIW, Skygazer: a former colleague of mine, a British army Brigadier, diplomat based in Italy and a respected military historian, told me all the jokes about the Italian forces, their tanks with one forward and five reverse gears, etc., appear to have been based on German disinformation during WW2. Realising they were about to be beaten in North Africa, the Nazis quickly tried to put the blame on their Italian allies to save their own face. They (the Italian forces) seem to be pulling their weight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
posted by aqsakal at 1:21 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

In America the press isn't muzzled by an outside force, merely by its own inability to do real journalism and an unwavering devotion to power. I can't say it seems a lot better as far as outcomes are concerned, though at least it isn't actually illegal for the American press to do better. Not that I expect it to, it's far too enchanted by Washington insiderism and too terrified of being called "liberal" to ever really report on things of importance.

As for Fascists and trains running on time, I cite snopes.
posted by sotonohito at 2:51 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


that's all I have to say.
posted by _dario at 3:44 PM on June 11, 2010

ersatz: I'll just put it this way. In front of me I have today's friday's copy of Repubblica, a centre-left leaning paper, and the second (non sports) paper in Italy.

During all this whole transcripts law thing (it's really more complicated than that, actually -- the D'Addario scandal would never have been not only reported, but discovered at all in the first place, for instance) which they vehemently opposed, they marked all the stories which could not have been written, had the law been in effect, with a small post-it note.

(the first page today is completely white, with one such note in the middle).

Quickly going through the paper, I counted no less than ten.
posted by _dario at 6:12 PM on June 11, 2010

Oh, great.
posted by ersatz at 3:28 AM on June 12, 2010

(first page of the paper) - the note says "the gag law denies the citizens the right to be informed"
posted by _dario at 4:12 AM on June 12, 2010

Italians have excelled at, but they just can't do government well

Even if we take out the example of Rome as too old, some of the pre-unification city-states seemed very well-governed.
posted by rodgerd at 4:57 PM on June 13, 2010

Even if we take out the example of Rome as too old, some of the pre-unification city-states seemed very well-governed.

They outsourced that whole city-state thing from the Greeks.
posted by Skygazer at 4:21 PM on July 9, 2010

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