Pope going to hell - comedian going to jail
mchawk | September 13, 2008 at 05:41 amby
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Addressing a Rome rally in July, Sabrina Guzzanti warmed up with a few gags about Silvio Berlusconi — her favourite target for her biting impressions — before moving on to some unrepeatable jokes about Mara Carfagna, the Equal Opportunities Minister and one-time topless model.
But then she got religion, and 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."
The joke may have gone done well with her crowd on the Piazza Navona in Rome, but not with Italian prosecutors. She is facing prosecution for "offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person" of Benedict XVI.
This is certainly not the first time Ms. Guzzanzi has faced state-censorship. In 2003, her TV show RaiOt was pulled form the airwaves when the broadcaster Madiaset (owned by Silvio Berlusconi) complained of "very grave lies and insinuations" in Guzzanti's depiction of the Prime Minister. As a reposte to this, Guzzanzi shot the Michael Moore-style documentary feature Viva Zapatero! attacking the apathy of Italian voters and those who had censored her.
The move to prosecute her over her anti-papal remarks was praised by some on the centre Right, including Luca Volonte, a Christian Democrat, who said that "gratuitous insults must be punished".
However, many people were strongly critical. Paolo Guzzanti, Ms Guzzanti's father and a centre Right MP, said the move was "a return to the Middle Ages”.
"Perhaps my daughter should be submitted to the judgement of God by being made to walk on hot coals," he added.
Antonio Di Pietro, a senator and former anti-corruption magistrate, who organised the rally, said that Ms Guzzanti had only "exercised her constitutional right to freedom of thought. You can agree or not agree with what she said — and personally I didn't — but to put people in prison for what they think is reminiscent of a time when those who thought differently had castor oil poured down their throats" — a reference to the Fascist era, when the Laterna Treaty was enacted.
Even certain sections of the Church are unimpressed. Father Bartolomeo Sorge, a Jesuit scholar, told La Repubblica the move to prosecute Ms Guzzanzi was incomprehensible. "We Christians put up with many insults, it is part of being a Christian, as is forgiveness. I feel sure the Pope has already forgiven those who insulted him on Piazza Navona."
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