Dissent is for Democracies, Applauses are for Regimes

In a dictatorship it is important to keep all opposing voices quiet. Dissent is not allowed, while cheering and clapping without thinking is always encouraged.

This past Sunday, April 25, was the 65th anniversary of the Italian liberation from nazi-fascism. It is a national holiday in Italy and is celebrated, or at least used to be celebrated, to remember the resistance that so many Italians opposed against Nazi and fascist forces in occupied northern Italy during World War II.

These forces’ success allowed Italy to become a Republic, with universal suffrage (finally) and one of the most advanced Constitutions at the time.

Article 21 of that Constitution is the right to free speech. It is an article that has always bothered Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who openly demonstrated his disgust for freedom of speech last week, when he humiliated Gianfranco Fini, his closest ally, in front of their Partito della Libertà Party. Berlusconi had not liked some words of criticism previously expressed by Fini.

Going back to April 25, this year’s celebration was pretty low-key.

Berlusconi was in Milan’s Scala theater, alongside many important Italian representatives. The President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, was also present.

In the video down here you will see what happens in a debilitated democracy. Dissent is suppressed with force, but this force will not be shown on TV, the main source of information for most Italians, because that TV is controlled by the same people who suppress freedom of speech. If the episode is shown, the news surrounding it will be distorted to accomodate one view… the government’s.

The first sequence is a protest by Scala employees, who wanted to show their frustration for the recent government cuts for culture. Many of these people’s jobs are on the line.

They were met by police forces and some were even beaten. The man with glasses yelling is a Scala employee enraged with the police forces, saying they should be “embarrassed” for this sort of treatment.

The last sequence is a man holding a loudspeaker. He is voicing his disapproval of what he calls “embarrasment laws” of the Berlusconi government and President Napolitano’s seal of approval over them.

A man with sunglasses (A bodyguard? A secret agent? A Berlusconi supporter? We cannot tell.) comes up from behind and strips the protester of his loudspeaker.

The video ends with the man saying that “in this country you cannot say anything. The square is blocked off, and people are invited to just applaud.”

Regimes like applauses, while democracies cannot survive without debate.


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