by Gianmaria Pisanelli

In In a very few years, three or four, there has been established a new anti-dialectical intellectual order that demonizes everything that threatens it. Black lists appear everywhere. On climate, on race, on gender, on Islam, on history. We purify. We exclude. We lynch. We exile.”.
Giulio Meotti, I nuovi barbari, Lindau ed., 2023


In commenting on the causes of the flooding in Emilia Romagna, a professor of political philosophy at LUISS in Rome - admittedly not well known to the general public - made some rather disconcerting statements, saying that "the omissions and delays that lead to today's disaster are also partly the fault of the deniers. Those deaths are also their fault." And adding that against climate denialism "the reaction must be firm and must go, in certain cases, even to criminal repression." We are not talking about a politician or even a renowned professor, so one could consider these singular utterances as the fruit of an isolated and all in all irrelevant thought in the context of the debate on the great issue of so-called climate change. But one would be making a glaring mistake. Those statements, bordering on the provocative, actually fulfill the role of the classic Overton Window, appropriately opened to allow in later times for more influential individuals to take up its contents and relaunch a more acceptable version, such that it can be discussed and perhaps packaged in the form of a policy proposal.

It's hot, let's open the Overton Window

And in fact, a few days later, two of the leading news agencies in the progressive world, such as Domani and Repubblica, punctually devoted themselves to explaining why that seemingly reckless hypothesis was in fact a timely and indeed a rightful response to those who persist in raising doubts about the causes of climate change and the strategies designed to combat it. Rather than on the merits of the issue, which, of course, is of fundamental importance in the political and social context of this historical phase, it is of interest here to carry out some reflections on the method and, in particular, on the dangerous censorious and intolerant drift that the propaganda of the mainstream has taken. The use - but perhaps it would be better to call it misuse - of the adjective "denialist" is a precise as well as disturbing sign of this illiberal tendency, which aims not so much at the refutation of critical or otherwise dissonant theses as at the delegitimization of those who bring them forward.

It is fairly well known, but it seems appropriate to recall it, that the origin of this term goes back to the revisionist theses developed by a number of historians and intellectuals (Robert Faurisson and David Irving the most famous), regarding the Holocaust and the responsibility of the Nazi regime in the extermination of the Jewish population. Theses that have been refuted and rejected, based on countless records and testimonies, by virtually the entire community of historians. As a result of the controversy aroused by the claims of revisionists, and the unanimous reaction of the academic and political world, as well as of course of the Jewish communities, initiatives have been taken in many European countries to criminally sanction the behavior of those who deny or justify the Nazi genocide, through printed works or other forms of publication. In Italy, for this scenario, Law No. 149 of 2016 introduced a specific aggravating circumstance to the crime of racist propaganda, instigation and incitement of acts of discrimination committed on racial grounds, under which a penalty of imprisonment from two to four years is provided for those who make themselves the author of propaganda based, in whole or in part, on the denial of the Shoah. This is a case that falls within the family of crimes of opinion, which have always been regarded with some perplexity by the jurists most sensitive to constitutional guarantees, particularly with reference to Article 21 of the Constitution, which protects freedom of manifestation of thought.

Religione covidista e obbligo vaccinale

However, the decision to criminally prosecute this particular type of historical revisionism finds legitimacy precisely in the consideration of the abnormalities of the Holocaust and in the legislature's firm intention to preclude any form of mitigation of historical and human judgment on that tragedy. The specificity of this figure of crime, inextricably linked to a well-defined historical event, moreover, gave denialism an equally specific and unequivocal meaning.

When you start censoring, you know where you start but not where you end up

No one, until a few years ago, would have called an interlocutor a denier because of his opinions or political proposals. But the dangerously totalitarian drift assumed by the media and progressive intellectuals, now megaphones of an increasingly aggressive ideology, and their allergy to confrontation with different ideas, are producing a genuine genetic mutation of language, used increasingly to delegitimize and censor positions not aligned with the dominant narrative. The biennium of the pandemic was in this sense a revealing moment of these profoundly anti-democratic tendencies, and it was precisely in that context that the epithet Covid denier began to be widely used, and not only to target the so-called "no vax" people, that is, those who refused to undergo vaccination against Covid, but also all those who expressed doubts and perplexities about the strategies adopted by the government to counter the health emergency.

Denialism then as a defamatory epithet, designed to demonize and take away credibility with the general public from any dissenting position. From health denialism to climate denialism, the step was short and even obvious, and so here are the repeated proclamations of mainstream journalists and agit props of various backgrounds that climate change cannot be debated, nor its causes, and whoever dares to do so is, precisely, a blatant denier, whose right to speak should be taken away. No surprise, then, if the "provocation" of a Luiss professor is immediately revived by prestigious press organs, which argue about the advisability of criminalizing those who make public their perplexities about climate change dogmas. Therefore, if Professor Franco Prodi claims that the causes of the flooding in Emilia Romagna are mainly to be found in the serious deficiencies of territorial care and maintenance and in the failure to channel and consolidate riverbanks, it is no longer enough to take away his microphone to prevent him from spreading his "bizarre" opinions, it is also necessary to activate the competent prosecutor's office that can put him on the register of suspects for "aggravated climate denialism."

The truth is that before our very eyes, within that Western society that once represented a model, albeit imperfect, of democracy, a nihilistic and profoundly anti-human ideology is asserting itself, one that rejects freedom of thought and respect for ideas, and demands uncritical adherence to its dogmas. And political correctness, from a linguistic quirk of self-styled enlightened minorities, is thus being transformed into a veritable mandatory statute, informing and pervading all spheres of living, under the painstaking control of diligent censors ready to strike back by any means at the renegades.

A graduate in Law (University of Rome "La Sapienza"), after a brief experience as a civil servant in the Ministry of Labour, he was a parliamentary adviser in the Chamber of Deputies for more than 30 years.