Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.



Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
And they say we’re nuts about religion in this country.

Alright, I have the text of the Italian penal code provisions underlying Smith’s complaint against Fallaci. Are you ready for this? Here’s both the Italian and my translation. Suggestions for improving the latter are welcome from those in a position to offer them.

Art. 402 Vilipendio della religione dello Stato
Chiunque pubblicamente vilipende la religione dello Stato e' punito con la reclusione fino a un anno.

Art. 402 Vilification of the State religion
Whoever publicly vilifies the State religion shall be punished by up to one year imprisonment.



Art. 403 Offese alla religione dello Stato mediante vilipendio di persone
Chiunque pubblicamente offende la religione dello Stato, mediante vilipendio di chi la professa, e' punito con la reclusione fino a due anni.
Si applica la reclusione da uno a tre anni a chi offende la religione dello Stato, mediante vilipendo di un ministro del culto cattolico.

Art. 403: Offenses against the State religion by means of vilification of persons
Whoever publicly offends the religion of the State, by means of vilification of one who professes it, shall be punished by up to two years imprisonment.
Imprisonment from one to three years shall be applied to one to offends the religion of the State, by means of vilification of a minister of the Catholic faith.



Art. 404 Offese alla religione dello Stato mediante vilipendio di cose
Chiunque, in un luogo destinato al culto, o in un luogo pubblico o aperto al pubblico, offende la religione dello Stato, mediante vilipendio di cose che formino oggetto di culto, o siano consacrate al culto, o siano destinate necessariamente all'esercizio del culto, e' punito con la reclusione da uno a tre anni.
La stessa pena si applica a chi commette il fatto in occasione di funzioni religiose, compiute in luogo privato da un ministro del culto cattolico.

Art. 404 Offenses against the State religion by means of vilification of things
Whoever, in a place of worship, or in a public place or place open to the public, offends the State religion, by means of vilification of things that form objects of worship, or are consecrated to worship, or are necessarily designed for the exercise of worship, shall be punished by one to three years imprisonment.
The same penalty shall be applied to one who commits this act in the occasion of religious functions, carried out in a private place by a minister of the Catholic faith.



Art. 405 Turbamento di funzioni religiose del culto cattolico
Chiunque impedisce o turba l'esercizio di funzioni, cerimonie o pratiche religiose del culto cattolico, le quali si compiano con l'assistenza di un ministro del culto medesimo o in un luogo destinato al culto, o in un luogo pubblico o aperto al pubblico, e' punito con la reclusione fino a due anni.
Se concorrono fatti di violenza alle persone o di minaccia, si applica la reclusione fino a tre anni.

Art. 405 Disturbance of religious functions of the Catholic faith
Whoever impedes or disturbs the exercise of functions, ceremonies or religious practices of the Catholic faith, the which are carried out with the assistance of a minister of the same faith or in a place of worship, or in a public place or place open to the public, shall be punished with up to two years imprisonment.
If this is accompanied by acts of violence to persons or threats, the imprisonment shall be for up to three years.



Art. 406 Delitti contro i culti ammessi nello Stato
Chiunque commette uno dei fatti preveduti dagli articoli 403, 404, e 405 contro un culto ammesso nello Stato, e' punito ai termini dei predetti articoli, ma la pena e' diminuita.

Art. 406 Crimes against faiths admitted in the State
Whoever commits one of the acts provided by articles 403, 404, and 405 against a faith admitted in the State, shall be punished in accordance with the designated articles, but the penalty shall be reduced.
The complaint against Fallaci cites article 406 in relation to article 403. Thus the charge is that Fallaci offended Islam by vilifying some individual or individuals who profess it.

When I read these provisions, I wrote to an Italian lawyer friend of mine to ask some questions, among the first of which were: “There’s a State religion in Italy?” and “So how exactly do other faiths get ‘admitted’? His responses were as follows:

Article 403 has its origins in the fascist period, and is therefore regarded as having been superseded by the new Concord between the Italian State and the Holy See to the effect that the Roman Catholic religion is no longer the State religion, but a free religion equal to other faiths admitted by the State.

As for the faiths “admitted” in article 406, the Court of Cassation [like our Supreme Court for constitutional issues] has held that it is “necessary to ascertain whether the statute of a religious confession is in contrast with the Italian juridical order, and in particular whether the exercise of the religion violates penal norms relating to matters of public order and protection of the rights of persons”
Well, this makes Fallaci’s defense quite obvious, as the main theme of her book is to point out all the ways in which the social and religious practices of Muslim immigrants, from infibulation to subjugation of women to polygamy to wearing headgear in I.D. photos, violate Italian and European norms regarding public order and the rights of persons. Her book is, in effect a long brief arguing that Islam should not be regarded as a “culto ammesso nello Stato” according to the court’s definition. That, of course, is not the way it will actually play out. It would be a stupid defense from a legal realist perspective, as there’s no way in hell a judge is going to hold that Islam is not allowed in Italy. I’ve asked my friend if he can find me an opinion defining the distinction between “offending by means of vilification” and merely criticizing. That, I imagine is where the argument will be if it actually takes place.

As for the imposition of lighter penalties for offending religions other than Catholicism, that's apparently been struck down in a case involving none other than our friend Adel Smith. (Hat tip Bartholomew.)

The complaint also invokes another provision, from the “Act of ratification of the Convention of the rights of man":

1. Unless the act constitutes a more serious crime . . . the following penalties shall be imposed:

a) imprisonment of up to three years for one who spreads in any manner ideas founded on racial or ethnic superiority or hatred, or who commits or incites commission of acts of discrimination for reasons of race, ethnicity, nationality or religion;

b) imprisonment from six months up to four years for one who, in any manner, commits or incites commission of violence or acts of provocation to violence for reasons of race, ethnicity, nationality or religion;

2. (left blank)

3. Every organization, association, movement or group having among its goals the inciting of discrimination or violence for reasons of race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion, is prohibited. One who participates in such organizations, associations, movements or groups, or lends assistance to their activities, shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to four years. Those who promote or direct such organizations, associations, movements or groups, for this alone, shall be punished with imprisonment from one to six years.

Whether Fallaci falls within the meaning of 1a) depends I think on the meaning of “ethnic.” She unabashedly espouses the superiority of Western civilization, culture, and mores over those of Islamic civilization. Her book also expresses a fair amount of personal distaste for most people from the latter civilization, but it certainly doesn’t call for acts of discrimination against them. Mostly it just calls for evenhanded application of existing norms to them without making exceptions in deference to their religious or other practices that violate those norms. I also don’t think it can fairly be said that she has incited violence against anyone. (Though there is a marvellous passage in the book where she suggests that a couple Italian male politicians who have defended the Muslims’ right to perform “soft infibulation” on their daughters try out the analogous procedure on their own bodies, and offers to do the honors.)

Well, between the free speech and establishment issues above, I’ve provided Eugene with enough fodder for a day or two. I need to go bed, as tomorrow it’s off to Family Camp with the Boy Scouts. Buona notte.


Comments:
Hi Chris. Just leaving this by way of a manual trackback.

http://www.north-sea.net/archives/451#more-451

Regards,

David.
 
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