Religious Crackpot Of The Month, September 2008

This month, I am awarding Crackpot to the Italian government prosecutors, who have really managed to pull it out of the bag by simultaneously being wrong and stupid. Not a good combination when you’re in a position of any kind of power.

Apparently, they have decided to prosecute a comedian called Sabrina Guzzanti. Her crime, such as they think it is, was this: she said in her act that within twenty years Italian schoolteachers would be vetted by the Vatican,

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.

The wording seems to vary between reports. I assume they are different translations. This one is from the Times. Other reports are in the Guardian (and their opinion), Chortle (where I first found the story), and loads of others, including Zimbio, whose article has this to say:

Ratzinger does a lot of pontificating...

That’s true. I also hear he’s Catholic.

They think it’s okay to punish people for mocking a bigot in a frock. Perhaps more worryingly, they also think it’s okay to punish people for mocking their President – that must make politics a risky game. It is no surprise that this law was signed by His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire (really, that’s what he called himself).

So that’s why they’re wrong. You just wait until you hear why they’re stupid…

The July rally [at which Guzzanti made the offending joke] was called to protest against alleged interference by the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Italian affairs, from abortion to gay rights, but also to attack the Prime Minister for passing "ad personam" laws to protect his own interests and avoid prosecution on corruption allegations.

So your plan is to arrest anyone who points it out under “ad hominem” laws? That will work.

Three years ago Ms Guzzanti released a widely praised film, Viva Zapatero!, about the suppression in 2003 of her late night show RAIot in which she had satirised the Italian Prime Minister. At the 2005 Venice International Film Festival Viva Zapatero! was given an ovation.

Just you watch how well that works.