Well, at least it’s not racial. Sorta.

Saw this article today, about an “emergency” rape law passed in Italy:

Italy’s government has rushed through a decree to crack down on sexual violence and illegal immigration after a spate of rapes blamed on foreigners.

What’s “a spate”? Must be quite a few, to justify the swift passage of a new law, I’m thinking. A virtual epidemic. But no. It’s three. They happened in one weekend, but still. Three.

The decree sets a mandatory life sentence for the rape of minors or attacks where the victim is killed.

Well, that sounds good to me. Harsh sentences for rape are exactly as they should be. And further along in the article it mentions that trials for rapists will be speeded up, and more resources will be focused towards helping the victims. All good, in my book.

But then I saw this…

It also establishes rules for citizen street patrols to be conducted by unarmed and unpaid volunteers.

Wait just a damn minute.

Is the Italian government now seriously authorizing citizen vigilante squads? Which will ostensibly target any immigrant who might rape somebody? Is it just me, or does this sound like an unbelievably stupid fucking idea?

Oh, wait, it’s not just me.

Critics say the measures could effectively legitimise vigilantism and xenophobia. The Vatican has warned against anything that turns innocent foreigners into convenient scapegoats.

::foreheadslap:: Oh, well, OK, as long as the Vatican agrees with me.

what is the world coming to

This is stupid. This is all kinds of stupid. This is a license for mass bigotry. Not that this kind of bigotry needed a license:

Many recent rapes have been blamed on foreigners, especially Romanians. Violent attacks on immigrants have since been reported.

Police say a mob of around 20 masked men beat up four Romanians outside a kebab restaurant in Rome on Sunday in an apparent vigilante attack.

The government has pointed to official statistics saying immigrants committed as many as 35% of crimes in Italy in 2007.

But analysts and opposition parties say many of these are related to breaches in immigration rules, and that foreigners have often been unfairly targeted amid a xenophobic backlash from right-wing politicians and the media.

The Roma (Gypsy) community, many of whom are long-standing Italian residents, have often borne the brunt of this reaction, they say.

Authorities in the capital began dismantling unauthorised camps housing Roma groups amid an outcry over recent rapes earlier this week.

Officials statistics put Italy’s Romanian community at more than 600,000, making it the largest immigrant group in the country.

Some Roma are Romanian, but many are from other Balkan countries and some hold Italian citizenship.

They can’t even keep Roma and Romanians straight. How the flying frilly fuck does this make sense?

No one can control a lynch mob. It is impossible to impose “rules” on violent vigilantes. Berlusconi must be smoking the good stuff if he honestly thinks he can regulate hate. It just doesn’t work that way.

My prediction: there will be deaths as a result of this. There will be more rapes of Italians, and they will go unpunished because now all an Italian rapist has to do is gibber something in Romanian to confuse the victim and the system will run off to scapegoat some poor schmuck who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and have the wrong accent. Rapes of immigrants will also increase and go unpunished, because that’s what happens when you unleash a mob on an oppressed population; some of these “citizen vigilantes” will decide on an eye for an eye. Not to mention that I doubt any of those new resources being allocated towards victims will actually be applied to all victims, regardless of national origin. No one will be safer, but Berlusconi’s popularity ratings will probably go up, because he will be seen to have “done something”. Even though it’s something abysmally stupid.

I visited Italy — Sicily, specifically — about 5 years ago. Beautiful country, great food, lovely people. The only ugly note in the trip was my encounter with a convenience store shopkeeper, who was quite hostile until I opened my mouth and mangled some Italian with my American accent. Then she went Dr. Jekyll on me in an instant, smiling and pleasant. But as I went outside to drink my cappuccino and noodle this, a fellow shopper — a black man from Sierra Leone — spoke to me and pointed out to me that she’d charged him twice as much as she charged me. “That’s how it is here,” he said. “Pretty on the surface, crazy underneath.”

Sounds like it’s about to get a whole lot crazier.

This entry posted in Syndicated feeds. Bookmark the permalink. 

5 Responses to Well, at least it’s not racial. Sorta.

  1. 1
    Raznor says:

    In a way, it’s nice to know that USA isn’t the only country that’s full of crazy when it comes to immigration. But in another way, I’m too disgusted for that to make much of a difference for me.

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    It also establishes rules for citizen street patrols to be conducted by unarmed and unpaid volunteers.

    Wait just a damn minute.

    Is the Italian government now seriously authorizing citizen vigilante squads? Which will ostensibly target any immigrant who might rape somebody? Is it just me, or does this sound like an unbelievably stupid fucking idea?

    To answer your first question, no, it doesn’t sound like it to me. If we’re talking neighborhood watch kind of things where people stand on street corners or sit in the parks and use walkie-talkies or cell phones to call the cops if they see something suspicious, then they’re not vigilantes at all. Vigilantes are people who are not law-enforcement officials who enforce the law on their own. If these groups keep their hands off and just report then I see no vigilantism in this.

    Police say a mob of around 20 masked men beat up four Romanians outside a kebab restaurant in Rome on Sunday in an apparent vigilante attack.

    This is questionable, but from the other extreme. This is a mob committing an assault. From the information given there’s no way to tell what the details of the motivation was. If the mob was acting on the basis of suspicion that these men had violated the law then they were acting as vigilantes. But if they more simply were acting from xenophobia or were just a group of people looking for trouble and picking an easy target (although the masks bespeak a level of organization that makes that a little more dubious) then they weren’t.

    It may be that the Italian authorities, concerned that this kind of thing might get worse, decided that putting people out there operating under police guidance and a set of defined rules might lessen the likelihood of mob action and possible vigilantism.

  3. 3
    Lilian Nattel says:

    Scary stuff. The Roma, by the way, were slaves in Romania until late into the 19th century.

  4. 4
    Decnavda says:

    What?!? You mean that non-governmental groups of ordinary citizens using violence can be enforcing reactionary beliefs in places other than the American South?

    Shhh. Nobody tell the left-wing anarchists.

  5. Pingback: Links « Stuff