Welcome to the land that invented witch hunts. Italy’s salvation from repeated pedo scandals in the Roman Catholic church is to accuse foreigners of being the worst witches. How convenient to have an American to hold up to scorn, instead of Italians defending themselves from the international suspicion that sexual exploitation of children was also invented in Italy.
Many Italians want and need to feel like they are not the evil monsters they appear to be in the foreign press. So hearing about an American who is supposedly almost as bad as the lonely priests who aren’t allowed to marry, is a welcome relief to the locals.
It’s tempting to blame this particular witch hunt on a rogue prosecutor exploiting the opportunity to advance her career, but the fact is that she isn’t the only individual who brought this plague on me. A police detective in the midst of her own mid-life crisis boasts that she conducted the initial investigation all by herself.
Nobody twisted the arm of the state psychologist either, who tortured the presumed child victims to solicit accusations against me. Nor was the cover-up of the torture possible without the assistance of a preliminary judge, and the state technicians who claim they were unable to copy or transcribe the videos of the torture for over a year “due to technical difficulties.” They still can’t manage to “recover” 11 minutes of the first child interrogation before any accusation was made. The video evidence of child torture doesn’t matter to the state anyway, because now that the video is finally available nobody in Italy will even acknowledge it or admit they saw the evidence.
The natural immunity of a witch hunt is that anybody who dares defend the alleged witch or claims that witches don’t really exist, is at risk of being prosecuted as a witch himself. A common strategy of inquisitors is to terrorize the public and isolate the accused from other people so an effective defense becomes impossible. Friends who have known me for 30 years are now afraid to be seen talking to me. If anybody complains about poor people’s children being taken away from their parents, the state can take your children hostage too as a threat to other potential critics.
About 15 years ago Italians were all too eager to believe the horrific accusations against the American student, Amanda Knox. The supposed evidence for her part in the grisly murder of fellow student Meredith Kercher was shamefully misrepresented by the Italian media, but many Italians simply wanted to believe the prosecutor’s fairy tale. Italians found something deeply satisfying about the story of a young and cute blood-thirsty American. They were even willing to throw her Italian boyfriend under the bus, Raffaele Sollecito, an even less likely “butcher.” Despite the eventual acquittals and several books detailing the absurdity of the prosecutor’s case, many Italians confide they still believe the pair was guilty as charged.
At least Amanda and Raffaele had close families to help them. In some ways the witch hunt against me is even worse than the prosecution of Amanda and Raffaele. This investigation began when I openly published a photo-documentary “Girl Becomes Woman” but that investigation went nowhere because there is no genital nudity whatsoever or any other suggestion of erotic or sexual intent. A few years later when I published my educational video “Buddy Massage,” there was finally a flimsy excuse for the state to violate the privacy of my home and confiscate my computer.
When that search turned out to be futile, the prosecutor became really desperate and accused my innocent child portraits and educational video of being “child pornography” anyway. Since child porn is in effect witchcraft, no respectable person will even ask to see the supposed evidence. In the nature of witch hunts, the accusation is proof enough. If the accused demands that the supposed evidence be carefully examined, the accuser need merely add more accusations. The general public are always lusting to hear dramatic accusations. Most consumers of mass media are not really interested in pesky details like evidence.
But the facts are well-documented. Around the same time that my innocent child portraits were accused of being pornographic, Palermo’s major daily newspaper published nearly identical images of nude and semi-nude children by a beloved Italian artist and photo-journalist, Letizia Battaglia, without a peep of criticism from any local moralists (1). A major national newspaper in Rome also published an article about the virtue of buddy massage in public schools in Italy and other countries! (2).
More recently another Italian produced a documentary video that includes two scenes of a naked child (front and rear views), and in one of those scenes he is touching himself. That video was shown to the public twice in the local film festival in the state university’s prestigious ancient locale (3). Rather than being subjected to any criminal investigation or prosecution, that officially approved video was awarded the prize of “Best Documentary” by the local Italian jury.
In another highly acclaimed film “Padre, Padrone” after a young boy is ordered to go out and sleep in the isolated pastures to guard the family’s sheep, his mother says: “What is your little pecker going to do all alone in the pastures?” We can imagine the family context of that rhetorical question.
There are also scenes of children simulating group masturbation and sex with farm animals. A scene in the original novel but not shown in the movie, describes little boys in their Italian classroom exposing themselves to their little female classmates. (4) The film won the Cannes Festival in 1977. There have been other blatantly sexual scenes with minors in other Italian movies and T.V., some of which are considered among the best art ever produced in Italy. (5)
Instead of being self-aggrandizing or far-fetched, maybe my paranoia about being a convenient American scapegoat in this highly scandal-sensitive European country might be right on the mark.
- “I Miei Occhi sulla Città” Gabriele Micciche. (Gattopardo, GDS Media, May 2017)
- “Padre Padrone” Gavino Ledda. (Maestrale, 2003)
- For example: “Amarcord” by Federico Fellini, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1974.