The Final User
    By Tommaso Dorigo | June 18th 2009 02:11 AM | 11 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    After the Pandora vase of Berlusconi's private life got opened, there are news trickling out from it every day. In the last few days we learned that the parties thrown by the Italian premier in his billionaire villa in Sardinia, or at his residence in Rome, Palazzo Grazioli, included scores of young women that were not there by chance, but allegedly with the purpose of entertaining -offering sex- the male participants. There is, in fact, a judiciary action going on, which is trying to ascertain the declarations of a few women who participated to those parties, and who declare they were offered money.

    Given the warnings I have received in the past about the need to be careful with what I write here when I expose myself to charges of libel, and given the very active lawyers of Berlusconi, I will abstain from commenting the news. But let me translate what Cinzia Sasso (an italian journalist)  writes on her blog today, exposing yet one disturbing detail of the whole story:
    "When will there be enough to say enough to all this ? The last news concerning Berlusconi is not so much the interview of the Bari girl who says she has been put on a plane, dumped on a five-star hotel, brought to Palazzo Grazioli inside a car with obscured windows, to be put on the availability of the premier. The worst news are the words of his faithful lawyer, Nicolo' Ghedini: with his legalistic language he puts hands forth and says that "even under the hypothesis that the indications of this girl were true -and they are not true- the premier would be the final user and thus never penally prosecutable.

    The final user.

    The first to publically show contempt and to ask a minimal respect for women was Vittoria Franco, from PD: 'By now women, in Berlusconi's territory, have become objects of use. And those who use them, obviously, are users'.

    There is nothing new, since the thought of those who had the guts to say that Eluana Englaro (an Italian case similar to Terry Schiavo, TN) could have been a 'container of children', had already appeared in all its vileness. One can only ask oneself: but can't women in Berlusconi's party, by God, manage to have a spurt of dignity ?"


    'Final user' is a vulgar concept, of course, though in a legal sense as a paid prostitute it is probably a valid one.    Sometimes it's not good to have lawyers speak for you, since Berlusconi would have said something less clinical and not be enraging Italian feminists.

    In Italy, anyone having sex with a prostitute is liable?   In the US, I think you can only get into trouble for being the one who pays.    After the transaction is concluded, you're just a guy getting sex.  So in this instance some businessman is the go-between so Berlusconi wouldn't be legally at issue (ethically, sure, though Clinton showed that constituents have pretty good tolerance for older men preying on younger women - even the National Organization of Women rallied around him, once he spread the word they were helping Republicans if they criticized him).

    Berlusconi's excuse - that opponents are just trying to damage his reputation ahead of the G8 summit - is sort of silly.   No one cares about the G8 summit and nothing ever gets done anyway so there isn't any value to hurting his reputation there.   In other countries when we hear about an Italian leader with an 18 year old mistress, we just go, "Well, that's Italy."

    We say that about France also.
    Hi Hank,

    I am sorry to pound on this issue, because I pass for a moralist -which I am not. I actually think that prostitution should be legalized in Italy as it is in other EU countries. There will always be people willing to offer their body for money, as well as people willing to pay for sex. The only problem is avoiding the exploitation of prostitution, and the induction to prostitution.

    Now, if I invite a pretty lady to a party, pay for her plane ticket, host her in a 5-star hotel and make her feel like a princess, and promise her 2000 euros if she spends the night with the host, that, to me, is induction to prostitution, and I condemn it; it remains to be proven whether Berlusconi ordered it or not, and on this his lawyer Ghedini has a point. This is what judges are trying to ascertain.

    However, there is a different side, much more pressing to me. Berlusconi is a powerful tycoon as well as Italy's Premier. He can do all the sex he wants in his private life as far as I am concerned, but as soon as his libertine conduct becomes public, he needs to pay for the political consequences. That is what brought trouble to Clinton, and what should happen in Italy too. The fact that he seems to pass untouched through the storm (with a conspicuous help from all Italian televisions, which have been proven to be the real opinion-maker for Italy's voters, and which are now controlled by Berlusconi's men -the news of the investigation have not been given even by the state-owned televisions) is once again a proof, should we need more- that Italy is no longer a democracy. It would be a democracy if there were laws preventing media tycoons from becoming candidates; if there was a clear law for blind trusts or other means to avoid conflicts of interest; if no single subject could own more than a single major TV network. But unfortunately, our constitution did not foresee such a turn of events.

    I am surprised that you are so aroused by trying to screw inside someone else's personal life. The people clearly had fun, both men and women, and no one else was hurt.

    One truly criticizable disadvantage of Berlusconi was that he was much shorter than Topolanek. However, this sublety has already been fixed:

    A clever guy! ;-)

    Hah Lubos, well, if you put it this way, well, Berlusconi is shorter, but having seen Topolanek naked and with a stiffy (one of the pics in Berlusconi's villa), I can tell you that I bet Berlusconi beats him on the horizontal length scale ;-)

    That's exactly how I understood Topolanek's defense that it was doctored - he said, in between the lines, that he can't possibly have such a small chap. ;-) However, Topolanek added that it would be difficult for him to show that it was doctored. How difficult? :-)

    OK, even if it were real, I still think it's more accurate to say that it was just a semi-stiffy.

    Hmm again I think a semi-stiffy would be hard to prove. Topolanek, please undress. Come on, it just does not make sense. Better to just say Topo should stop discussing the non-gigantic stature of Berlusconi :)
    This shouldn't have been news or the press shouldn't have reported it. People, even politicians, personal lives and interpersonal weaknesses (depending on your sensibilities) should be kept private.

    In the old days, in places like Italy or France, they thankfully had a more enlightened position by simply not talking about it. Now the tabloids have taken up the horrible AngloSaxon approach of sensationalizing and publishing every minutae and its quite dissaggreable.

    Personally, I could care less what consenting adults do with their money or their bodies.

    Haelfix, Berlusconi is already being attacked in Europe and his leadership questioned because of his moral conduct. Private, sure. But when you candidate yourself for leading a country, you are bargaining your private life somehow. If he paid women to have sex with him and his guests at Villa Certosa or Palazzo Grazioli, or even if some of his lacqueys did, this is of huge political relevance. We cannot allow Italy to be led by somebody who exchanged his power position with a green card to make politics a brothel.

    I never quite understood this point of view (thats often repeated by many people). I just don't see what relevance a politicians private live has to do with his ability to govern. This applied to the Clinton affair as well.

    In France, we've had presidents with mistresses, kids out of wedlock, rampant affairs, drugs, prostitution and so on and so forth. In the old days, the media had the good sense to not bring out the dirty laundry for public consumption (and even if they did, people found it distasteful and promptly put it out of their minds). In fact, some of us took it as a point of pride for Machismo reasons =)

    Theres plenty of more valid reasons to reproach Berlusconi, this imo is not one of them (especially since its painfully speculative at this point).

    Hi Haelfix, consider this: if Berlusconi's wife hadn't talked about the willingness of her husband to fill in the list of candidates for the EU Parliament with a bunch of those girls, we all as europeans would likely have had such a poorly qualified representatives to decide on important issues.
    Private and public life are kind of entangled in this case.
    Think about it.

    OK, I don't see how a person should be "bargaining" his private life just because he became a politician? Isn't it true for all other occupations including a janitor, manager, baker, tennis player, unemployed, worker in Fiat, prostitute, an employee in Al Qaeda? What is it exactly about the politicians that people like Tommaso want to steal them their private life?

    In the feudal era, politicians could afford many merry things in their private life. The aristocratic dynasties also had some higher standards - when it comes to formal etiquette - but that was because of the family line, not because of the job occupation. Finally, I think that the life of Italy outside politics is as much a brothel as it is in politics.

    Whoever wants to invade someone else's private life is wanting to invade someone else's private life. It is extremely bad and arguing that some legally OK professions are legitimate targets for such invasions is simply disgusting, Tommaso.

    This discussion has also the other side nicely covered by Haelfix. Politicians are being chosen by their ability to do politics, much like physicists should be chosen according to their physics. What they're doing with their private life should be of no concern because it doesn't affect their constituencies - except for those who haven't understood that their freedom ends where the freedom of others begins.

    And, truth to be said, Berlusconi is a much better politician than the whole line of incompetent Italian politicians ending with Prodi (so far): this poor quality of the non-Berlusconi politicians of Italy was the true driving force of the frequent changes of the government, whether you like it or not: Berlusconi is a higher class.