Censorship of Anti-Clerical Game Shuts Down NoBlogs.org
Many close friends of mine in Italy take part in a collective technology project called autistici.org. Late last year they unveiled a new service to their users, a blogging platform called noblogs.org, which currently hosts several hundred users and is rapidly innovating. In recent days the site has been shut down in an attempt to suppress a computer game written in flash named Pretofilia, an anti-clerical piece of agit-prop focussed on the abuse of children by members of the clergy. Ironically, I last met with members of autistici just a few weeks ago as they continued to establish servers housed in other jurisdictions, a precaution now demonstrated to be very, very well-founded. The author of the game, molleindustria, has written many other political games, many of them focussed on labour casualization.
The furore exploded after an Italian MP, Luca Volonte, submitted an emergency parliamentary question on June 26th regarding both the ‘Operation Pedopriest’ game, and a performance, ‘Messiah Game’ (part of the Venice Biennial Art show). The former was accused of being pedophile pornography and he demanded it be shut down:
“The government should act urgently to close the site which allows the download of Operation pedoporiest, a flash game containing simulations of the rape of children by priests, unimpeded by parents who are intimidated and gripped by a mafia-like silence.”
The government took the bait and the security services were wheeled into action.
Molleindustria had already made clear the political intention behind the piece and explained where the inspiration emanated from:
“Inspired by the controversial BB documentary “Sex crimes and Vatican”, Operation Pedopriest is a strategy game which introduces you to the fascinating emergency management procedures constantly put into practice by the church. It is not recommended to minors and lay-people.”
Obviously this clumsy and ill-advised act of censorship will end up having the very opposite effect to that intended: molleindustria will receive huge amounts of publicity and the game will receive an international audience. Volonte is the parliamentary leader of the Christian Democrats which governed Italy for nearly fifty years until its collapse as part of the anti-corruption investigation known as Tangentopoli. His reasoning as to why the game should be suppressed is illuminating:
“Law 38/2006 (dealing with exploitation of minors and paedophile pornography, trans. note) should be applied: even where virtual… the reproduction and showing of scnes that represent such abominable events are forbidden. Let no-one seek an alibi in the excuse of freedom of expression for so-called artists thereby offending human and religous sensitivieties. It is necessary that the government take such steps as to avoid that similar cases occur in the future, offensive to religious feeling, confessional religion in general and the catholic faith in particular.”
Right, so no concern as to the ‘abominable facts’ that the game in fact highlights or for the victims of institutionalised sexual abuse? Glad to see that’s sorted out then. Given the removal of the veil of secrecy over clerical abuses in Ireland and the US over the last fifteen years, and the complicity of the hierarchy in protecting the perpetrators, a lot of clicks will be arriving from those IP ranges. Crimen Sollicitationis anyone?
A review of the game is available here.
The following statement was released by autistici:
Last Night God called America
Molleindustria.it is a site publishing satirical flash games with provocative political content. Its last game, called “Pretofilia” (i.e. Priestophilia), is a denunciation of the widespread use of pedophilia as an excuse for censorship, and of the widespread abuse on children in the catholic church.
After its publishing, the site has been immediately subjected to the attention of the Italian Parliament and the Interior Ministry answered prompting the police to act against the site. Molleindustria decided then to remove the game, but the file had already been spread far and wide on the Internet.
Soon after the news of the censorship threat was made known on the website, the game was mirrored even more, eventually also on some blogs on our noblogs.org platform.
After all that had been said and done on this harmless satire, we would not dare to say we did not expect some threats to our servers, but we would not have imagined that a small swf file could wake up someone so up above us to block all of noblogs.org (including all the blogs used by hundreds of people for their daily communication).
And when we say so up above us, we mean it!
Last night God itself called the provider hosting noblogs.org and demanded the whole server to be shut down. In the heavens above there are no fax machines, so the Almighty has deemed its voice by phone to be authoritative enough.
Unfortunately God never minds the Unbelievers.
Apart from being nerds, we are also strongly skeptical by default and we tend not to believe what anyone tells us unless we can touch it and feel it with our own hands. So we do not trust God’s voice by phone to be authoritative enough and are asking for a concrete and official injunction to shut down the site. While we wait for the Almighty to have some of its representatives on Earth send a very material letter or order, we mean to reopen noblogs.org as soon as possible with all its content (and nothing less).
In the meantime, we would like to stress that in our opinion Pretofilia has nothing to do with pedopornography and that we deem it a very good satire against children abuses. It could at worst wake up some criticism on how much priest’s abuses are hidden and silenced, but lately satire on the matter has been far from random.
That is why we ask anyone caring for the freedom of speech and satire to mirror the game, knowing that it could imply a fair degree of legal issues and attacks by the Italian government, the Vatican, and their lot. We ask anyone to publish a link to these mirrors in the comments to our blog.
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