Thursday, May 24, 2012


In his speech yesterday commemoration Giovanni Falcone, President Napolitanto exhorted young people to come out on the streets in favour of “legality”. He really meant it and his voice almost broke with emotion as he read that part of the speech.

Then there were indeed thousands of young people who had arrived in Palermo by boat and bus as part of a campaign for “legality”. They gave the ceremony in the Bunker Courtroom in Palermo an almost festive air and their presence gave a substance to the the commemoration way beyond that of the official speeches.

That was yesterday and I like millions of others was moved by the ceremonies and above all Falcone's contribution to the rule of law and justice.

Today, in a very different part of the woods, I am stopped by a young carabiniere who was stopping cars and pedestrians in a very narrow-streeted part of Trastevere in order to allow a carabiniere bus through a one-way street… in the wrong direction of course.

To bring a big bus into Trastevere is unwise at the best of times – to drive against the traffic of a one-way street is just arrogantly bloody-minded. Laws (and rules of all kinds) exist either for common convenience or to protect the weak, at least in democratic societies so for the law enforcement officers to break them (without a hint of emergency – the bus had no passengers nor flashing lights or sirens) sets a bad example.

You might say “there is no connection between putting 500 kilos of TNT under a road and killing five people and driving the wrong way up a street”. Of course, for the gravity of the action but we know well enough from the “fixing broken windows” theory (and practice) that legality breeds legality and even minor breaches of the law encourage others.

I am sure that the next time a carabinere stops me and does not fine me for a traffic offence, I will take it as normal or be very angry if he does fine me. But today the contrast was too striking especially coming a few days after the PdL tried to stop an anti-corruption bill going through Parliament.


aqsakal said...

While this was happening to you, James, I was following two motorcyclists of the Stradale up the Salaria into Rome. No blue lights, no sirens, no hurry. At every red traffic light they slowed, looked around and then crossed. And it wasn't the first time, it was the n-th time I've seen this supercilious behaviour, "setting a good example".

italpolblog said...

A friend replied, capping my episode:
I couldn't agree more with you regarding your irritation of the behavior of the carabiniere and the example they set, and thought of this article that I read yesterday: