Last Saturday (May 20, 2023) Eugenia Roccella, Minister for the Family, was supposed to present her book at the Turin Book Fair. Far-left demonstrators from the infamous "Non una di meno" and "Extinction Rebellion" organizations staged a protest aimed at preventing the event from taking place. Ultimately, the book presentation could not be held, thereby trampling on the freedom of speech of the Minister and the other speakers.
As a result of this action, 29 extremists were prosecuted for private violence.
As is explained at length in our report Protecting freedom of assembly and public expression of thought by introducing a new crime, the crime of private violence (Art. 610 of the Criminal Code) is a residual case, which also includes petty behavior, and therefore is particularly mild in the minimum, does not contemplate pre-trial detention in prison, and, at the discretion of the judicial authority, may be considered such a soft crime that it is not even punishable (Art. 131 bis of the Criminal Code).
Thus, it is not daring to predict that those who have prevented the Minister and others from speaking in public could go unpunished, or punished insignificantly. With the effect of not deterring the recurrence of such misconduct, aimed at hindering the speech of those who do not share the ideology of such individuals.
This led to a proposal by the Machiavelli Center to introduce a new specific offense for those who, by violence or threat, prevent public meetings or those open to the public.
It is clear, at least to us, that the right to dissent, or even to contest, cannot translate into violating another's constitutionally guaranteed right of speech. Intervening early, accurately and effectively on this point is imperative, given the rise of left-wing extremism fueled by ideologies that have a particular hold on young people. This kind of political violence, aimed at silencing those who dissent from the aforementioned ideologies, already finds widespread justification in the public debate. Obviously, the same misconduct, if enacted against leftist figures, is not tolerated but met with alarms about the alleged "return of fascism." We need only look at the different way in which a parallel protest, also at the Book Fair, directed against biologist Antonella Viola was narrated: although in this case the lone protester merely interjected with "animosity" with Viola, without preventing her lecture from taking place, the media propaganda (which minimized, condoned or openly supported the gag imposed on Roccella) speaks in unison of "aggression" (cf. Open, Repubblica, Il Gazzettino orANSA, among many others).
This means one specific thing: even if, wrongly, one were to consider it permissible to push the right to contest to the point of preventing others' speech, one must be aware that this "right" will always and only be guaranteed to left-wing extremists. The others will have to deal with media demonization, "harsh warnings" from the Quirinal, cops' batons and "exemplary punishments" from the courts.
Supporting our bill is therefore not only right, but also pragmatic. How to do it concretely?
- reading and sharing our "MachiavelliPolicy", which we have already distributed to MPs;
- writing to your representatives in Parliament, urging them to read and consider our proposal ( you can search for the MPs who represent you and their e-mail addresses at this page for the Chamber of Deputies and at this one for the Senate: both allow results to be filtered by constituency of election);
- by making a donation to the Center to give us more tools for outreach and advocacy.
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