Web mood: more awareness, more censorship

Strange days here in Italy. The global financial maelstrom seems to be receiving less attention than the final death throes of an airline that should have been put out of its misery years ago. I am afraid we have not fully understood the implications of the financial meltdown on our lives.

The Web has been abuzz lately with the story told by Barbara, the proud mother of an autistic four-year-old child, who was mistreated to the point of humiliation at a kids’ event sponsored by Carrefour; Barbara was driven to tears by being told “If he’s not normal, you shouldn’t take him out in public”. Barbara’s original blog post drew almost 800 comments, the story spread like wildfire, and the company called her to offer their apologies. I hope that this helps each and everyone of us to practice more awareness in our daily lives. A weird-looking kid? Could have been my child, or yours.

The case of blogger Sergio Sarnari, which I thought would be thrown out of court, is instead winding its way through our legal system; as may will recall, he was sued for Eur400,000 by a furniture company for a blog post describing its disservice. Sergio wrote he would post the proceedings as soon as his lawyers allowed him to, but apparently it is not yet a prudent thing to do.

In the meantime, a Sicilian court had published the motivation behind the ruling that shut down “Accade in Sicilia” (“It happens in Sicily”), a blog by Sicilian journalist and historian Carlo Ruta, in late 2004.  In the meantime, he has been sued several times for defamation, for practising what elsewhere would simply be called “citizen journalism”. According to judge Patricia di Marco, based on a 1948 law, Carlo Ruta’s blog was “stampa clandestina”, or unauthorized press (something that could probably shut down 99% of Italian blogs). Here is Carlo Ruta’s appeal for freedom of expression, and here is an association that supports him and collects donations towards his legal costs.

2 thoughts on “Web mood: more awareness, more censorship

  1. Altough Italian Constitution (art. 21) states and guarantees a broad freedom of speech, there is this law (L.47/1948) that, in practice, rules against the Constitution itself.

    While an Italian Court shuts down a blog, in the USA the Supreme Court, in Talley vs. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960) struck down ordinance that required the distributor of handbills to disclose the author’s identity.

    So, the emerging issue is if Italy is a free country.
    I do not think so!

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