The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Freedom of Speech in Italy

Posted by rantingkraut on September 12, 2008

The Italian comedienne Sabrina Guzzanti is threatened by up to five years imprisonment for insulting the Pope: “… after warning everyone that within 20 years Italian teachers would be vetted and chosen by the Vatican, she got to the punchline: ‘But then, within 20 years the Pope will be where he ought to be — in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils, and very active ones, not passive ones.’” (Source).
The prosecution
apparently relies on the Lateran Treaty, which quite appropriately was signed under Mussolini, and which contains the following passage: “All offences or public insults committed within Italian territory against the person of the Supreme Pontiff, whether by means of speeches, acts, or writings, shall be punished in the same manner as offences and insults against the person of the King.” (Source)
Few should be surprised if Mr. Berlusconi indeed were to see himself as the equivalent of the King. That a member state of the EU should punish insults against the head of state by up to five years in prison may be more unexpected. It is –in any case a detail that should make people in Britain vary over any attempts to harmonize criminal law across the EU or to create the European equivalent of federal offences.


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