01 July 2008

Gypsies -- Roma

This is one of those moments where you read the sentence, shake your head, read it again, and then go, what?

Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, has handed down a decision which essentially says that it is OK to discriminate against gypsies because they are all thieves. Hey, did I fall asleep and wake up in the dark ages?

Italy is now governed again by the billionaire telecommunications expert and alleged corrupter Silvio Berlusconi. However, it is the Interior Minister who has decided that all of the Roma that are resident in Italy must be fingerprinted, including all Roma children.

The ruling was not about the fingerprinting issue per se but rather it overturned the convictions of a group of six people who signed a pamphlet which essentially said that all gypsies must be removed from Italy because where ever there are gypsies there are robberies. One of the six, Flavio Tosi, has since become Mayor of Verona.

The fact that the Court made the decision that it did would suggest that any legal action taken against the fingerprinting measure would be likely to fail as the Court appears inclined to accept the proposition that all Roma are thieves.

The Court of Cassation held that Mr Tosi was not a racist, but that he had "a deep aversion [to Roma] that was not determined by the Gypsy nature of the people discriminated against, but by the fact that all the gypsies were thieves". The Court then went on to say that his dislike of the Roma was "not therefore based on a notion of superiority or racial hatred, but on racial prejudice".

Yep, if you're lost a little on this reasoning then join the queue. This seems to be an exercise in hair splitting between the words hatred and prejudice.

It should not be too long and the government in Italy might require Italian Jews to wear a big yellow Star of David on their clothes. If Italians are going to start fingerprinting people then it must be non-discriminatory and all Italians must be fingerprinted and not just selected racial groups.


Rishardana said...

My wife's purse almost got robbed by a woman and her daughter who look a lot like gypsies in the movies when we're using Rome's metro. It was funny tho' when they failed, they jumped out of the train right before the door closed and gave us raspberry :D

But that doesn't mean that all gypsies are thieves. I won't be tarring all of them with the same brush. Besides I don't really know whether they're gypsies or not. It's the other passengers muttering something about them being gypsies :D

It's a pity that Italians are doing this now.

One time in Milan's train station our bag full of goodies was stolen by some people. The cop suspected that the Albanian refugee was the culprit.

Pretty soon they'll start banning Albanians to enter their beautiful country.

Shame really. I'm with you on this Pak Rob.

Rob Baiton said...

To be clear I am not suggesting that all gypsies are innocent. However, it seems that the plan is to tar all gypsies with the same brush.

It is akin to saying all Indonesians are corrupt because some have been caught out.

Nevertheless, it is a case of one bad apple spoiling the bunch.

I also have some empathy for the idea of not being a criminal but having to be fingerprinted. Just about every permit that I require in Indonesia requires that I submit to having my fingerprints taken.

Such is life.

Polar Bear said...

Young drivers pay higher car insurance because statistically they are more likely to crash.

The driving age limit is 16 because many drivers under that age are incapable of handling a car in a safe and responsible manner.

Drivers are limited to 110KPH because statistically it is the highest speed that the average driver can maintain without crashing.

Drink levels in drivers are set by the same sort of logic.

Yes the minority are penalised by such actions. Tough. We generalise (read stereotype) in life…

Rob Baiton said...

Tough indeed!

Maybe it is time that we started stereotyping bears and then paying particular attention to the minority populations and even more particular attention to polar bears...

Maybe this is the source for the saying, "different strokes for different folks".

You are an enigma Mr. Bear! You are into saving the world one person at a time but equally comfortable writing off a minority based on statistics and brushing them aside with, "that's life"!

Maybe this is another issue we will have to agree to disagree on!

Polar Bear said...

You miss my point Rob. Firstly I don't brush them off with a simple statistical broom. LIFE does that. We have created societies that govern with those statistical brooms. We sample the populace and make judgements upon it. Most pistol owners in the UK were normal law abiding responsible citizens. One fruit loop goes berserk with a pistol and the law is changed. You CANNOT own a pistol in the UK. The risk is too great, so the majority suffer for the actions of a minority. That's life.

But there is a more controversial side to the issue. Just as a nation is the sum of its citizens. So too a cohesive group is responsible for its reputation as an entity. If Romas object to being classified as thieves then perhaps a little internal policing and image cleaning is in order, because just as Rishardana points out, any contact with Romas usually leaves you deficient in the financial department.

And herein lies the answer to your enigma: the bear doesn't give a flying fig for niceties like political correctness, because he known that down on the street level everyone thinks un-politically.

So what is better? A facade of political correctness covering up true feelings, or a bit of openness and honesty about peoples feelings?

Rob Baiton said...


I don't miss your point.

It is not about political correctness and it certainly is not about you and whether you give a flying fig or not.

Maybe I am slow on the uptake and maybe it is time you thought of something to call me on and then rail against me in your blog.

But do not make it PC because I am far from being politically correct and have regularly written that political correctness serves to undermine legitimate debate on the issues that afflict us.

I am not going to waste time turning your arguments back on you because you missed my point the first time around as well.

We, as usual will have to agree to disagree. As we seem to have both missed each other's point.

But such is life! Time to move on and mix with my own kind as I just do not seem to understand bears generally and polar bears specifically.

Enjoy the rest of your day and the coming weekend.

Rob Baiton said...


I am intrigued by the idea that the Roma as a cohesive group are "responsible for its reputation as an entity. If Romas object to being classified as thieves then perhaps a little internal policing and image cleaning is in order".

Could we use the same logic for Islam, Catholicism, or whites and blacks.

Could I for instance say that because there is gun crime in the black communities of Brixton that all black people have an image problem that requires some cleaning up?

By grouping in this way aren't we just avoiding individuals takinf responsibility for their own actions?

Should all Germans to this day be held accountable for the atrocities of Hitler? Should all white Australians be held accountable for policies that lead to claims that there has been a series of stolen generations (if the Stump is reading this, I said "claims" and not "proved")?

Nah, you say that you don't brush the Roma off with statistics, life does that as do the societies that we create to hold those statistical brooms.

You are part of the community, right? And you agree with the idea that people should be fingerprinted on the basis of how they identify.

Let's face it some polar bears kill people. Therefore, we should take the paw prints of all polar bears. Now, if the polar bears have a problem with this, for example they feel they are being discriminated against, then my answer would have to be; sit down and stick out your paw!

After all, ... a cohesive group is responsible for its reputation as an entity. If polar bears object to being classified as killers then perhaps a little internal policing and image cleaning is in order ... or words to that effect.

By the way it is not me that is sweeping aside the polar bears objections but rather that's life.

I always find it interesting that most of your posts contend that you speak for the masses or that you know how others think. I find it particularly interesting that when someone disagrees with you the response is an attempt to belittle them.

It is nice to hide behind the anonymity of a moniker like the polar bear.

The difference for me is that I am not presumptious enough to believe that I know what others think and thus there is a need for me to engage in debate to work these opinions out.

I also have enough self-respect to respect the opinions of those that hold opinions different to mine. I do not need to descend to name calling.

I think the worst I might have proferred is "numb nuts" but that is more based on urban slang. However, in this case numb nuts probably has a different meaning when we are talking about polar bears and icebergs. A very literal meaning would abound as most everything would be numb.

Hopefully, I have been sufficiently open and honest with my feelings in responding to your earlier comments.