Words about God and Life for the Attention Deficit Generation

The Italian Crucifix Case and Judicial Wisdom

The “Italian Crucifix” case (LAUTSI AND OTHERS v. ITALY) has now been decided at the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber. I won’t comment on the merits of the case, or the merits of the judgement— others have done so, here, here and here— but rather I just want to do a disturbing fact about Judge Bonello’s concurring opinion.

In a wise and wide-ranging disquisition on the development of cultural norms, the difference between “secularism” and “freedom of religion”, and the meaning of “teaching” (as opposed to “indoctrination”), Judge Bonello concludes with “An Aside”. He mentions how the Court was once asked to judge on the pornographic intention and/or effect of Guillaume Apollinaire’s novel Les onze mille verges (the case was brought by the Turkish government). While recognizing that Apollinaire’s novel was pornographic, the Court defended its place within the European cultural tradition. Fair enough— but Judge Bonello’s authority was whether the novel was pornographic was WIKIPEDIA (which definition he helpfully footnotes!1)

Wikipedia determining cultural and moral judgements in the European Court! I suppose it is one step up above Justice Stewart’s authorities and references in the same question— but not much!2

  1. Footnote 3 “Wikipedia classifies this work as “a pornographic novel” in which the author “explores all aspects of sexuality: sadism alternates with masochism; ondinism/scatophilia with vampirism; paedophilia with genrontophilia; masturbation with group sex; lesbianism with homosexuality … the novel exudes an infernal joy”.” []
  2. Oh, and by the way, the link is ironically deliberate! []

1 Comment

  1. Stephen Verges

    I think everyone from the Verges family supports the work of Pablo Picasso, we see the humor in this book … if Judge Bonello is perhaps the last remaining vampiric scatophiliac … I can understand his frustration of being lobbed into a book with vampiric ondinsimics.

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