In the moment when Italian PM and champion of (his) justice Silvio Berlusconi was bravely fighting a new battle against Italian politicized magistrates, last Saturday somebody else in Italy decided to speak up for his rights. It was art critic and politician Vittorio Sgarbi, whose article on Il Giornale was undoubtedly a masterpiece, a legacy the readers of Berlusconi’s paper should preserve for the future generations. A couple of touching lines ( “there’s no difference between giving a blowjob and giving a lecture” and “to fuck is not an offence”) are enough to introduce the reader to Mr Sgarbi’s personal world and to his interior conflicts. Why does an “inconsistent enquiry” violate his rights to be interviewed about art? Why does he have to waste his time defending his ex-employer ( Mr Sgarbi has been MP under three of Berlusconi’s governments)? A new case of Italian servility.
Mr Berlusconi had been declared under investigation the day before, when Milan’s magistrates accused him of having sex with Ruby, a 17-year-old prostitute, and of abusing his power last May, when he apparently forced police officers to release the girl, who had been stopped for robbery, claiming she was Egyptian President Mubarak’s nephew. The content of a 385-page dossier was then published by Italian newspapers on Monday, giving voice to even more bitter perplexities. But Mr Sgarbi couldn’t bear anymore such a Bolshevik attack to his Prime Minister: something had to be done. And a journalistic masterpiece was the outcome of his indignation.
Mr Sgarbi’s starting point is not too bad after all. I would say it is a promising one indeed. Mr Sgarbi is a man of the world after all. It seems he has no doubt about Ruby’s ingenuity: we must refuse this idea. Mr Berlusconi’s version of the “hearted man” who helps people in trouble doesn’t seem convincing to Mr Sgarbi. Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi did play Bunga Bunga with Ruby. We trust you, Vittorio.
But as words go by, Mr Sgarbi’s argument doesn’t simply present a couple of inaccuracies: it reaches the apex of nonsense as it involuntarily accepts Mr Berlusconi’s guiltiness. Sgarbi confuses or pretends to confuse the crimes Berlusconi is accused of. But this doesn’t lead to anything. Rather, Mr Sgarbi’s miserable lucubration ends up accusing Mr Berlusconi himself. Sgarbi writes that Mr Berlusconi can’t be accused of exploitation of prostitution because he hasn’t exploited anybody. And that’s absolutely true. Mr Berlusconi is not accused of exploiting Ruby: he is accused of having sex with a 17 year-old girl (in Italy pay to have sex with an underage prostitute is an offence). Thus, as Sgarbi writes that there’s nothing strange about a 17-year-old having sex with the Italian Prime Minister , he says that Berlusconi, the victim of a “senseless enquiry, the aftermath of prejudice and ignorance”, is guilty.
Mr Sgarbi, you may be too busy as an art critic to study the Italian Penal Code. Mr Sgarbi, you may be too busy also to focus on your intellectual prostitution. But we can’t pay the price for it. Therefore, we, all the Italians who still remember the difference between a blowjob and a lecture, want to shout out our anger, the only thing we can’t be deprived of. We want you to shut up and go back to your paintings. And we want it now.