Monday, November 01, 2004

The Rocco Buttiglione affair

Somehow, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s transparent, and now failed attempt to put an inmate in charge of the asylum – that is, to make Rocco Buttiglione the next EU commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security – has been widely parlayed as state/"state" (= here, the EU) overreach into an individual’s private religious views.

Is Buttiglione entitled to think that having gay sex* is a sin? Of course – inasmuch as Buttiglione can be as personally averse to it, and for whatever reason, as he likes.

When it comes to his views on others having gay sex, however, I’m confused as to why he has any – views, that is. Using the “Big Brother” diary room formulation of “This behaviour affects me because . . .”, I really cannot imagine an end to the sentence that a rational person would want to be saying in public with their name put to it.

Over at Troppo Armadillo, Don Arthur avoids this lacuna by springing to Buttiglione’s defence seemingly on the basis of his credentials alone:

Buttiglione isn't some ignorant Mediterranean populist. He has been a member of parliament, a university professor, and is fluent in several European languages. He has ties with the Acton Institute and the American Enterprise Institute in the US (both prominent right wing think tanks) as well as sitting on the Senate of the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Alas for Don – as seems so often to be the case when far-Right gay-hate is dressed up as something more respectable – the arguments advanced are funnier on their surface than a drag queen’s frock. So Buttiglione’s got links with two American right-wing think tanks? Who would have thought? And a wall-plaque from some two-bit tax haven as well? My, oh my – that must look great above his Copperart display cabinet.

Don Arthur also conveniently overlooks Buttiglione’s most important tie by far (and no, it’s not the Pope – as Australia’s George Pell has shown, being close to the Pope is hardly an exclusive club; in fact, when you’re a gay-hating brown-nosing Catholic with some temporal power, membership appears to be automatic). Instead I refer, of course, to Italian media magnate and PM Silvio Berlusconi.

I’m no expert on EU laws, but with all the recent argy-bargy over Turkey’s being democratic (or not) enough to accession the EU, it seems plain that the Union grievously lacks an effective de-accession process. For if it did, Italy would have long ago being kicked out off the nest, on the basis that it was no longer a functioning democracy (which is a priori, in my view, until Berlusconi either resigns all state power, or divests the vast bulk of his media interests).

As fascism invariably is during its early stages, Berlusconi’s threat to democracy has been grievously underestimated. Gay rights is a pretty good caged-canary-in-the-mineshaft proxy for measuring the current air quality – for which my verdict is “increasingly rancid”. Religion – of Berlusconi, Buttiglione, whoever – does matter, but in the opposite sense to an individual’s right to practise their own religious beliefs. As mid-20thC history abundantly shows, when the Catholic Church gets a whiff of state fascism, it can hardly wait to unbutton its trousers and consummate the arrangement.

* Buttiglione has been reported as believing that homosexuality (which I take as meaning the sexual orientation, as well as possibly also doing the sexual acts) is a sin. Catholic Church teaching, as I understand it, is that a homosexual orientation alone is not sinful.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?