Who would have thought that a concert for May Day would become a real mayday alert for Italy?
Centre stage is pop artist, rapper and X factor judge, as well as one half of the Ferragnez couple (think the Beckams), Fedez. Upstage there’s Rai 3, the state tv channel of the political left, and in the wings there’s Salvini and the Lega Nord.
The subject of all the furore is the DDL Zan – which merits a bit of explanation because we’re in Italy. This member’s bill has passed the main house and is now before the Senate, after taking literally years to be get debated in parliament. It seems a pretty innocuous bill, the precise wording is to extend the crime cited under rule 604 bis which says that is is a crime to discriminate on the grounds of racial or religious identity. The proposal is to extend this to include ‘sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability’. Nothing contentious there, except to marvel that Italy in 2021 still doesnt have a law making it illegal to persecute or discriminate against someone in a wheelchair.
And so we come to the great May Day toppling of democracy as some parts of the press would have it.
Fedez was billed to play the ‘concertone’, the huge televised concert of the workers, which for Covidity was not in a packed Roman piazza as normal. He made it plain to the topdogs in Rai 3 that he had every intention of using the platform to call out the opponents of the DDL Zan – he has been a devout supporter of the bill since its inception. He sends the text of what he plans to say to Rai. Rai 3 tells him that he can’t name names, or quotes from the unmentioned names and need prior approval. Fedez refuses. He goes ahead causing a bit of a shitstorm, including that Rai wanted to approve his comments. Rai deny this and say Fedez is lying. Fedez publishes the recording of his phone call on Twitter which shows that Rai are telling porkies. Rai counteract with an accusation that he has doctored the video, which is patently untrue – you only have to see him screaming at the phone to know that it could not be edited with any degree of continuity. So there’s a big political slanging match over politics in the RAI – which surfaces every couple of years and then quietly goes away again.
Unfortunately this Fedez/Rai spat is making the headlines instead of what Fedez actually said on stage and what Rai didnt want him to say. Of Course Salvini and the Lega weigh in with the fact that Fedez is a ‘populist’ (Salvini really should keep quiet on that one), and shouldnt talk about politics. The argument should be that Fedez as a private citizen can say what he likes, and reflect the opinion of a vast majority of Italians, because he is not a politician and not in the pockets of shadowy powers – organised crime, the Church, and ‘the men who run Italy’.
So what did Fedez say to cause this outcry? The first part of his speech was about the 1 May and an appeal to the Italian PM to give workers in showbusiness the same attention that he gave to sports – given Covid and the speedy response to the idea of the super league. As he pointed out there are the same number of workers in showbusiness – concerts, theatre,etc as in sport. Then he moved to the nub of his speech starting with Mr Ostellari – a Lega parliamentarian and head of the senate commission into the DDL Zan.
Here is a translation of his comments, which in any other European country would cause the downfall of a government:
“ Ostellari is part of that segment of Italian politics which over the years has distinguished itself in the fight for equality, and Id like to share with you some of their quotes on the subject.
‘If I had a gay son, Id burn him in the ovens’ – Giovanni De Paoli, regional advisor of the Lega, Liguria
Gays? They should start to behave like normal people’ – Alessandro Rinaldi, regional advisor Lega, Reggio Emilia,
Gays are the victims of an aberration of nature’ – Luca Lepore and Massimiliano Bastoni, Lega councillors
Gays are a travesty for the reproduction and conservation of the species – Alberto Zelger, Lega councillor
Gay marriage will bring the extinction of the race – Stella Khorosheva ,- Lega candidate.
The give children injections to make them gay – Lega candidate Giuliana Livigni.
People like Ostellari have said that there are other priorities in this moment of the pandemic than the DDL Zan, so lets have a look at these other priorities: The Senate hasnt had time for the DDL Zan because it had to discuss the labelling on wine bottles, the reorganisation of Coni (The Italian Olympic committee), extra pay for the Bolzano police for being bilingual, and lets not forget the reinstatement of the golden pension/Annuity of Formigoni (a convicted criminal – expresident of Lombardia).
So according to Ostellari, the right of Formigoni to his annuity is more important than to tutor the rights of everyone, and of the people who are discriminated against every day, even to the point of violence. But with regard to the rights of life, the president the Pro Vita association, the ultra catholic and anti abortion Iacopo Coghe, friend of the Leghista Pillon (appointed to the DDL Zan commission), has been the loudest voice against the DDL in the last few months.
The anti abortionist isnt aware however that the Vatican has invested more than 20 million euros in a pharmaceutical company that produces the Day After pill. Therefore, all you antiabortinists and Pillon, you have wasted too much time looking for the enemy around you, and you arent aware that you have the enemy within. ”
Salvini typically goes on the attack lamenting that the fact that RAI and therefore the taxpayer paid 500.000 euros for this political event. Fedez counterattacks pointing out that he wasnt paid, he paid all his musicians himself, and the tax payer has had 49 million euros stolen by the Lega. Salvini shuts up at this point, knowing thats Fedez has more followers on Twitter than he does and it could end badly.
Now we are in the midst of self examination – what is populism, should pop stars talk about things they dont understand such as politics. Many politicians are coming out of the woodwork to say that politics is ‘politics’, as though it were an arcane mystery founded by a secret sect who work to impose their will on an unsuspecting public and not the …. Ooops.