Robert Saviano has a poignant article in today’s Times about the persecution of Italian journalists, which ties in with Maria Delius’s piece in this month’s Standpoint.
Anyone in Italy today who criticises the Government or the Prime Minister knows what to expect in return – not a contrary opinion, but a campaign aimed at discrediting him. He knows that the price for continuing to ask questions and expressing opinions will be paid with his own skin. Anyone who takes a critical stand knows to expect retaliation. For this reason in Italy today press freedom means the freedom not to have your life destroyed; the freedom not to have your career cut short. Italy appears more and more to be a country in which politics has been reduced to personal attacks.
Both Saviano and Delius describe how Berlusconi’s cronies sued La Repubblica for asking entirely legitimate questions, and accused the editor of L’Avvenire, a newspaper close to the Vatican, of being a closet homosexual when he criticised old goat. Although Delius in her most telling line notes that no one will speak to her on the record, Saviano modestly insists that he is not a hero, and “obviously, Italy cannot be compared with China, Cuba, Burma or Iran.”
No it can’t. But it can be compared to the growing number of states around the world which are ordered to suit the boss. Berlusconi’s Italy imitates Putin’s Russia and Chavez’s Venezuela.