Being Italian: the art of being spat at and pretending it’s raining

In Italy we have a saying for people who fail to acknowledge the truth: he/she gets spat at and he/she pretends it’s raining.  In the last few months we have really mastered this art.

A few months ago the European Court of Human Rights ruled that, during the G8 held in Genoa in 2001 Italy had not only committed a vicious crime (torture), made more vicious as it was committed by police forces, whose duty is to protect, not torture, BUT had also failed, in the 12 year trial that followed, to punish those responsible for it.

Now, the police are found guilty of raiding a school that the Mayor of the city had given to demonstrators to peacefully camp in, in the middle of the night, beating and abducting dozens of people (including elderly and youth below the age of 18) and holding and torturing them for three days… what happens in a civilized country?  The “arms” would lose their jobs and the “brains”, whoever gave the order, would lose their jobs, refund the victims AND rot in jail.  But il Bel Paese somehow managed to not get anyone suspended, fired or arrested.  All of those involved kept their jobs and have had quite astonishing professional successes after these events.

This in itself is obscene.  Like… Amnesty International would be waaay more vocal about it if this was happening in Georgia or Uzbekistan, Italy is in Europe so everyone raised a brow, as you should, but then nothing happened.

After a trial that takes more than a decade no one is found guilty and the ECtHR is called to rule over this matter and they come up with a double shit show: not only torture was committed BUT it wasn’t punished because Italy doesn’t have a law that criminalizes it.  For the record, if an immigrant held you capitive for three days, naked in a crowded room, and left you with no food and water, forcing you to lick your feces (which is what happened in this case) any Italian judge would find a way to put this mperson in jail and make sure they’d spent a reasonable amount of time there.  If the police does it… well, we don’t have a law that punishes it so it’s technically not illegal…

Other story: three couples of men, in long term relationships ask for their rights to be recognized by the Italian State, as they would if they were married to six women. The request is denied, based on the objective fact that there is no law in Italy that puts same sex marriage on the same level as traditional marriage.  These six men appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and win the appeal a few days ago.

Once again the ECtUR rules against Italy on the grounds that a violation of human rights has been perpetrated and that any couple in a stable, long term relationship should be recognized the same rights, regardless of their sex.

Personally I feel that at this point the judges in Strasbourg, rule against my country any time they see a lawsuit filed against it because they know that 99% of the time they will be right… but jokes aside, does the ECtHR hate Italy?  Or does Italy regularly and invariably fail to protect its citizens?  It looks like it’s more likely to be the latter…

What the post was really about though was the astonishment I feel every time these sentences are made public because I see an impressively high number of (even highly educated) Italians rejoicing at the news.

Shout out to them: the European Court of Human Rights  ruling against the country doesn’t mean that things are changing, it only means that we have been condemned at an institutional level for a violation that has been committed before our very eyes. It means “your legal system wasn’t able to rule fairly therefore we must step in”, it means that we are the weaker player in the team (in this case the team is the EU, in which we are the only major country that doesn’t recognize same sex marriage and civil unions in any form).

The proof is that about the G8 sentence nothing has been done – the perpetrators kept their jobs and walk free.  So please don’t rejoice at this new slap on the wrist, because our great country takes it exactly as that: a slap on the wrist..  The three couples will be refunded as per ruling with 5000 Euro per person and Italy will drag on its law on civil unions as it has been doing for years.

Nothing changes, as always.  So please when the ECtHR spits in your face don’t blame it on the weather, the sun is shining, just not over us!


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