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Commentary. A proposed Italian law would outlaw fascist speech and raise penalties for propaganda posted online or televised. But there are already two anti-fascism laws and provisions built into the constitution.

Fascist propaganda does not need another law

In the scraps of a particularly unfortunate legislature, the Italian Parliament, which declined to approve a law of basic decency like jus soli, has found the time to approve — we do not know if it is the final version — an anti-fascism law proposed by Emanuele Fiano.

It extends and widens the existing norm of the Criminal Code concerning “the propaganda crimes of the Fascist and Nazi-fascist movements.” The new instrument includes penalties from six months to two years of imprisonment for “anyone who propagates the images or contents of the Fascist Party or the German National Socialist Party, or their respective ideologies, even through the production, distribution, diffusion or sale of items depicting people, images or symbols to which they are clearly referred to, or makes public references to their symbols or gestures.”

I imagine that many readers of this newspaper will instinctively welcome such a measure. But here I would like to underscore the many perplexities that the law arouses. One wonders if this bill was really necessary, since we have two solid laws (the Scelba Law of 1952 and the Mancini Law of 1993), which already regulate this topic. And it is also legitimate to question the implications of the overall, political and cultural disposition of those who work on such bills.

The Fiano bill is not a substitution but a supplementary instrument, which pretends to control every form of individual expression of thought or gesture, attributable to fascism. The author is the same individual who has given us a questionable and dangerous law on “denialism” against which the vast majority of Italian historians spoke. In the vagueness of that reference to one’s “own content” (about which thousands of interpreters all over the world are still being debated) is the wisdom of the legislators who had already approved the Italicum law and other unconstitutional laws.

The newspapers have reported on a rise of fascist products. To take the law at its word, one would have the impression of busts to Mussolini in Predappio, which will certainly never happen. Keep in mind that Article 1 of the Scelba Law already forbade all “exterior manifestations of fascist character.”

And actually, in the face of the disturbing Chioggia story, the prefect had intervened by ordering the dismantling of all fascist propaganda by the grotesque “Bagno Dux.” This proves that there are laws that can be applied without inventing new ones, for propaganda purposes on voters who have been neglected and humiliated in recent times with distortions of the constitution. Fortunately, they rejected them with their votes on Dec. 4.

The planned punishment is increased by a third “if the crime is committed through telematic or computer instruments”: Consequently, not only it will crowd the courts, but it will also require a massive network control systems, which is quite unrealistic to build and dangerous in its implications.

But we should start from the constitution itself, without forgetting the universal and solemn value of Article 21: “Everyone has the right to freely express their thoughts in words, writings and any other diffusion means. Printed media cannot be subject to authorizations or censorship.” Just as Article 18 guarantees freedom of association, banning “secret associations and those who pursue, even indirectly, political ends through military organizations.”

A partial and circumscribed exception is also contained in the 12th “transitional provision” of the constitution, which prohibits “the reorganization of the dissolved fascist party in any form whatsoever.” There is no reference to fascism in general, but to a specific form of unique, armed and with totalitarian vocation party. This framework of principles is recalled by the 1952 and 1993 laws. Based on them, extreme right-wing movements of insurrectionist character were dissolved. This balance should be maintained at any cost.

On this issue, during the First Republic, we moved with great prudence and sense of responsibility, avoiding the pursuit of certain execrable perceptions and behaviors that fell within the sphere of constitutional guarantees.

And assigning the political and cultural struggle to the laborious construction of hegemony and common sense, the commitment to affirm the values ​​of anti-fascism, without taking legal shortcuts. Politicians back then were also aware that it was necessary to avoid dangerous precedents that could open up to adventurous extensions. To make it clear, in West Germany back then, the communist party was outlawed. As in Eastern Europe today, there are other prohibited and persecuted symbologies.

It was a wise concern that today no longer seems to be shared by a liberal left that in the West tends to pursue criminally all the views that contrast with its vision of the world, in politics, biopolitics and customs. Without realizing that the wind can change and it can become a victim of persecution.

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