by Emanuele Mastrangelo

The words of Minister Cartabia

An icy chill runs down your spine when you read the reports of Justice Minister Marta Cartabia's speech to the so-called "Segre Commission", which deals with "combating the phenomena of intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred and violence". Cartabia announces between the lines a next crackdown on freedom of expression, with the excuse of "fighting hatred". An excuse with landslide edges, uncertain and, for this very reason, very dangerous for the constitutional rights of Italians.

Cartabia deplores the "too few trials" in Italy against "hate crimes" and launches a warning for the 101 (sic!) cases of "hate crimes" recorded in our country, according to "Repubblica". An incidence of one every three days and one every six hundred thousand inhabitants. But Cartabia defines this as an "exponential increase" and "an alarming picture" that requires - also because, for a change, Europe is demanding it - an "acceleration" of the contrast to the phenomenon, especially by putting the bite to social networks.

Forks and double standard

The Minister is concerned because we do not have enough convictions. In other times we would have spoken of "hard hit" speeches, but we run the risk of being accused of "hatred". General Mario Roatta wrote in 1942 about the Yugoslav partisans captured by our soldiers: "We execute too few people". Paraphrasing his words, "we condemn too little" is the reproach that Cartabia makes against a judiciary that dismisses 80% of complaints for "hatred". In other words, instead of noting that if four-fifths of the complaints do not go to trial, there is evidently an abuse of the case, she deplores a sort of "laxity" on the part of the judiciary.

As mentioned at the beginning, that of so-called "hate" is a slippery and landslide terrain. A perfect ground to create cases of crime whose real existence is in the eyes of those who judge, more than in the existence of the crime itself. Just think of how many investigative files our prosecutors have opened against the "no vax" or "no vaccine pass" guilty of having challenged the action of government, perhaps (but not always) even over the top, and how many instead have been opened against those who spoke of "crematoria" and "lager" for those who do not want to vaccinate, who - wearing a lab coat - has threatened to abuse their role to do violence to patients not vaccinated or who instigated to spit in the dishes of the unvaccinated. Zero, in these cases. And the same thing can be found in other areas: the hatred is always allowed against males, heterosexuals, the traditional family, the right, against the defeated regimes of the past, against Catholicism, while instead you should immediately "alert the presidium" if the same "hatred" is directed against women, homosexuals, "families" created at the table, the political or intellectual left, the present regimes and all other religions.

It must be said that Cartabia - perhaps in order to partially extend the foldaway seat of hate and to be able to flaunt a super partes equanimity that is not found in the reality of our moribund judicial system - also cited a case of a Christian nurse discriminated against for having shown a necklace with a crucifix. But the reality is that the excuse of hatred does not result in anything other than a system to silence a clearly identifiable part of society.

Outsourcing censorship to private parties

But it gets worse. Cartabia's speech shows the acceleration given by European powers to the involvement of private individuals in the "fight against hate". That is to say, to invest online platforms, but in general all media, with a power of preventive censorship. Just think of the recent case of the journalist Tommaso Montesano, on the verge of being fired from "Libero" for having compared the coffins of Bergamo to the blind alleys of the investigations on the Moro case, or of the sports manager Fulvio Collovati, kicked out two years ago from all RAI broadcasts for having contested the qualities of female football players. A preventive censorship that for the editorial staff can come in through the window in the form of "non-compliance with the editorial line", but that for the social media appears completely unconstitutional.

FOTO | L'Italia e la sua Vittoria, 1918-2018

But contracting out to private entities the control of the freedom of expression of their members has a further meaning: half of Cartabia's speech concerns criminal cases and articles of the penal code, i.e. legal instruments to which the citizen submits in exchange for constitutional legality, which in particular protects him as "not guilty" until a final sentence. If we contract out to a private entity the possibility to discriminate a speech as "hateful", thus censoring its author and depriving him of his projection on the net (today almost necessary to exist and work), we are allowing to bypass the Constitution by inflicting a surreptitious punishment in a completely arbitrary way. A circumstance so much more serious if we think about how many services today exist almost only in the telematic world (current accounts included...) and so they can be suspended or revoked unilaterally to a user on the base of an unquestionable decision of the platform.

Hate criminalization is a blow to the rule of law

We are therefore witnessing the umpteenth blow to the rule of law, a drift that has been going on for years but that in the last two years has taken on a worrying acceleration (yes, really worrying, not the 101 cases of "hate" ...). In real life, our freedom of expression is subject to the arbitrary and capricious will of a magistrate, who has the power to choose whether a phrase constitutes a "crime" or not, all while many other types of "ideological" crime - from insult to blasphemy - have been decriminalized. The very indeterminacy of the crime of "hate" represents a violation of all the legal principles underlying the certainty of law and the constitutional guarantee of the citizen and the accused.

In virtual life, however, our constitutional rights are bound hand and foot and handed over to capricious and interested individuals, totally free to apply double standards of judgment to the detriment of their users. A system tolerated by our State despite the patented violation of the constitutional dictate and that reveals itself as a subtle and pervasive mechanism of social and behavioral engineering, with which citizens-users are slowly getting used to suffer without protesting.

Thus lathering up the inclined plane on which we are sliding from a State of Law to a State of Arbitrariness.

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Editor of the Machiavelli Study Center's blog "Belfablog," Emanuele Mastrangelo has been editor-in-chief of "Storia in Rete" since 2006. A military-historical cartographer, he is the author of several books (with Enrico Petrucci, Iconoclastia. La pazzia contagiosa della cancel culture che sta distruggendo la nostra storia e Wikipedia. L'enciclopedia libera e l'egemonia dell'informazione).