Thanks to global climate change, it appears Cocktober came early this year, as we learn Italy’s supreme court has ruled a 69-year-old man convicted of public masturbation is not guilty of a criminal offense. Let’s turn to The Independent to find out what’s up with those nutty Italians and their different strokes:
Italy’s highest court, La Corte di Cassazione, was asked to rule on the case of a 69-year-old man who had been caught masturbating in the southern city of Catania.
Identified only as Pietro L, the man had been convicted after he was seen “taking out his penis” and “practising autoeroticism” in front of students at the University of Catania campus.
A local prefect and an appeals court had agreed the man should pay a fine of €3,420 (somewhere between three and one million dollars in real money), and be sentenced to three months in prison to think over what he’d done to get himself into such a sticky legal predicament. Ah, but not so fast, said the Italian Supremes in their rendition of “Stop! In the Name of Self-Love”:
[S]upreme court judges said that a recent government reform meant “the act is not included in the law as a crime”.
In doing so, the court has eliminated the criminal aspects of sentencing for obscene acts in public places.
The case of Pietro L will now go back to the Prefect of Catania to be sentenced again. La Corte di Cassazione ruled the man must be given a fine between €5,000 and €30,000, with the exact figure to be determined by the local court.
Aha — so the Court of Calzones isn’t saying it’s perfectly OK, just that offenders can only be fined — a hell of a lot — but not jailed. Sounds like they’re determined to give ol’ Pietro a fair shake. Also, the court stood on precedent, after which they no doubt rinsed their shoes:
In taking their decision, the supreme court judges noted the fact that the Italian parliament passed a law last year decriminalising the offence of lurking in places frequented by girls in order to be seen masturbating.
Huh. Which of course raises the natural question of what former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been doing with himself since he was forced out of office in 2011. Clearly, helping with justice reform.
For the sake of context, the Independent provides this helpful comparison to British law on public masturbation:
In the UK, the standard sentence for masturbation in public is around 14 days in prison, though it can vary based on a range of circumstantial factors. The crime appears to based on Section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which states it is an offence for anyone to “wilfully and indecently” expose his “person” in a street or public place.
The article also debunks a “common urban legend that masturbation in Indonesia is punishable by decapitation,” which suggests we don’t follow urban legends nearly as closely as we’d thought. In reality, Indonesia is far more lenient than that:
That’s not true, according to the secretary of information at the Indonesian embassy, who told The Guardian the maximum sentence under Article 281 of national law was 32 months in prison.
We have a feeling that paragraph was included solely for the purpose of razzing a competing paper for making some poor wanker call the Indonesian embassy with that question. In our judgment, the Guardian still wins, if only for their headline: “Masturbation laws around the world: the penal code.” But what about laws regarding female public masturbation, huh? Once again, the emphasis is on punishing men for what they do with their naughty bits, while women get a free ride, probably on a pillow or the arm of a chair. Won’t someone speak up about this vagenda of manocide?
In conclusion, this song from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, which applies in the UK but not, now, in Italy: