Zen and the Art of Tone Moderating
The recent events in Italy have caused some turbulence in Italy’s political class. First, Berlusconi has resigned as Prime Minister, an event that led to celebrations in the streets of Italy unseen since the 2006 Football World Cup Final. Given the lack of success of Italian football teams, politics gave the Italians a chance to feel pride at their country again.
These celebrations have been immediately condemned by important newspapers such as Il Giornale, owned by Silvio Berlusconi, for their aggressiveness, vulgarities, and display of hatred. What was overlooked by the important newspaper was the image of members of Berlusconi’s giving the finger to the crowd in front of them as they were leaving Palazzo Grazioli after B’s resignation.
Second, Mario Monti has been appointed as new Prime Minister. Monti is a man whose character could not be more different from Berlusconi’s (hopefully). In the current economic and political turmoil, there has been a general appeal to follow his example and “moderate the tone” of the discussion, the latter being an art in which Italian politicians have never really excelled (see the previous video).
Take Francesco Storace. A man of the Right, member of the now-extinct Alleanza Nazionale, ex-ally of Gianfranco Fini (who last year, for a moment, looked like Berlusconi’s main antagonist), Storace is famous for his reply to a journalist who once asked him to say something right-wing: “You faggot!”, he said, to fulfill the journalist’s request.
Storace, like many others in Italy, struggles with moderating the tone of the discussion. Two days ago, at the convention of his political movement La Destra (“The Right”: one can imagine the massive brainstorming they had to go through before picking this name), while talking on the stage, he openly attacked Fini, yelling “Now you must resign too! Now you have to become unemployed too! You must go get a job! Pig!! Pig!!!” The crowd in front of him cheered and clapped hands – surely in a moderated way.
Interviewed on Radio24, Storace minimized the event. “I did not say maiale (pig), I said meno male (thank God)”, he said, laughing. The interviewers laughed back and replied “Come one, be serious: you’ve said some pretty serious stuff about the third figure of the State” (Fini is the President of the Chamber of Deputies). After a few more jokes, Storace concluded:
“I did say maiale, but I did it unbeknownst to me”.
(The audio interview, in Italian, can be found here.)