Friday, January 06, 2006

Prove Jesus Existed, Italian Judge Orders Priest

Those who think the U.S. judicial system often gets bogged down in silly and bizarre proceedings need to consider this:
AN ITALIAN judge has ordered a priest to appear in court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed.

The case against Father Enrico Righi has been brought in the town of Viterbo, north of Rome, by Luigi Cascioli, a retired agronomist who once studied for the priesthood but later became a militant atheist.

Signor Cascioli, author of a book called The Fable of Christ, began legal proceedings against Father Righi three years ago after the priest denounced Signor Cascioli in the parish newsletter for questioning Christ’s historical existence.

Yesterday Gaetano Mautone, a judge in Viterbo, set a preliminary hearing for the end of this month and ordered Father Righi to appear. The judge had earlier refused to take up the case, but was overruled last month by the Court of Appeal, which agreed that Signor Cascioli had a reasonable case for his accusation that Father Righi was “abusing popular credulity.”

[. . .]

Signor Cascioli’s one-man campaign came to a head at a court hearing last April when he lodged his accusations of “abuse of popular credulity” and “impersonation”, both offences under the Italian penal code. He argued that all claims for the existence of Jesus from sources other than the Bible stem from authors who lived “after the time of the hypothetical Jesus” and were therefore not reliable witnesses.
This is bizarre in so many ways that we won’t even bother to try to list them.

But we have to think that making “abusing popular credulity” a crime here in the U.S. would have interesting results.

We can see a Berkeley jury convicting President Bush for getting the United States into the Iraq War, but then we can see a jury in a red state convicting liberal Democratic politicians on any number of counts.

Could judges lock up reporters who publish stories that prove to be false?

We would suggest a whole rogue’s gallery of conspiracy theorists who could be put in jail: Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Louis Farrakhan and a host of others.

The more we think about this, the more we like it, with only one proviso:

It’s got to be we and our friends who get to decide what is true and what isn’t.

Note:

Italy is the country where journalist Oriana Fallaci has faced the possibility of a jail sentence for saying unkind things about Islam. According to the BBC:
Italian preliminary investigative judge Armando Grasso ordered the formulation of charges against the author, saying the book had expressions which were “unequivocally offensive to Islam.”

Adel Smith, president of the Muslim Union of Italy, sued the writer on 8 April 2004. He says Ms Fallaci has been advocating and spreading hate against Islam and Muslims, sometimes by allegedly distorting real historical facts and inventing others.
But wait! Isn’t Luigi Cascioli saying things “offensive to Christianity?”

But that’s OK, apparently.

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