Beyond belief: up to 5 years for a joke about the Pope

No, it isn’t some lunatic fantasy of some depraved Catholic, it’s the reality of Italian law.

In 1929 the fascist leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini, signed the Lateran Treaty, part of which provided that an insult to the Pope carries the same penalty as an insult to the Italian President.  Bizarrely, insulting the President in Italy carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

In 2008, famous satirist Sabina Guzzanti told a political rally that within 20 years Italian teachers would be vetted and chosen by the Vatican. “But then,” she joked, “within twenty 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.”

Not very funny, but hardly heinous.  The deranged prosecutor of Rome disagreed and asked the Justice Ministry for permission to prosecute Ms Guzzanti for ” offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person”of the Pope.

The Justice Ministry showed some sanity by refusing permission: “I decided not to authorise it, knowing well the stature and capacity of the Pope for forgiveness.”  Or perhaps because he realized what an insufferable twat the prosecutor was being.

Shame really, it could have been fun.  They really should repeal those hideous and stupid laws, though.

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CA Proposition 8, already struggling, now looks dead in the water after rewording

Associated Press reported on Thursday, 18 September, 2008 that support for Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to make gay marriage constitutionally invalid, is down to 38%.  Before State Attorney General reworded the proposal to clarify that gay marriage, now legal in the state, will be rescinded, opposition had been recorded at 38%.  The title of the reworded ballot initiative is now  “Eliminates Right of Same-sex Couples to Marry.”  55% of likely voters now say they will oppose the ban.  A simple majority is required to pass an amendment to the California constitution.

Meanwhile the New York Times reported yesterday that Hollywood actor Brad Pitt has donated $100,000 to help the campaign against Proposition 8, saying “Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn’t harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8.”  Bruce Bastian, the Utah-based co-founder of Word Perfect Corp, has also donated $1 million to the campaign.  Bastian was also a principal donor in the campaign against a similar proposition which passed in Utah in 2004.