snafu on 10 Oct 2000 13:12:28 -0000

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<nettime> The Thing Rome Censored Again

Roma, 10 - 10 - 2000
an update on the roman inquisition ....


After the publication of the book "Let the little children"
The group abandons the Roman Civic Network

After the removal of the interview with dollyoko (now on due to the publication of
two gif animations based on prints by a dutch artist of the late 1700s  -
which the Australian artist made for DollSpace
( - the City of Rome yesterday also removed
the online version of the book  Lasciate che i Bimbi (Luther Blissett,

A book that The Thing Rome had published, in the early morning, firstly as
a sign of solidarity with the closure of the Avana web pages (another
social group hosted by the same server), and secondly to contest the
emergency and hysterical climate which has been created in Italy recently
around the question of pedophilia.

In the early afternoon The Thing Roma received a formal letter from the
City Administration about the blocking of the page containing the interview
with da Rimini and the pages of the book Lasciate che i Bimbi.

In this letter, signed personally by the ViceDirector General of the City
of Rome,  Mariella Gramaglia, it was stated:

"The city administration holds that what has been placed online is damaging
and could be considered offensive for reasons of shamefulness, the communal
morals and good social behaviour."

The articles of Rocco's code (the Fascist code) are recalled, the same
articles that had been used to ban films by Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci,
CiprEC e Maresco, books by Aldo Busi, and theatre performances of Dario Fo.

Entartekunst, the "degenerate art exhibition" inaugurated by the Nazis in
1937, showed the German people "examples of modern art" (such as Cubism)
that they should have never been able to see. Today, as well, Italian
authorities shut down one of the few sites (maybe the only one) that is
trying to diffuse,, net.culture in general, in a country in
which 90% of the public money for art are dedicated to preservation and
conservation of cultural goods.


Log files from da Rimini's web site at The Thing New York today revealed
that yesterday the JusticeTribunal of Bologna (the ones who are currently
prosecuting one of the Luther Blissett authors) and another Italian
giurisprudence mob have been doing some heavy snooping in the realm of the

Puppet Mistress.

The Thing Rome asks international support for a cause that might have a
judicial end. We ask you to sign the following appeal, indicating your 
country,  making it circulate and writing to:

The Thing Roma <>
Wu-ming <>

Best Wishes,

The Thing Rome (censored) (uncensored)


[Mentioning the children as being at risk from adults] is simply the most
respectable way that the law has yet found to sanitise a kind of censorship

that would be thought oppressive, odious and downright ridiculous if its
advocates came straight out with the admission that the real targets of
their attention were adults [85] The regulatory powers are currently
fretting over the new technologies of the Internet and the uncensored
imagery still possible for the homeowner to download via his or her modem.

To enforce a ban on the Internet, thus crippling the newest and most
"independent" system of communication yet devised, might be thought
unacceptable. Wait till the children-at-risk lobbies get going. They have
had plenty of practice on what adults used to call their freedom to view.
These words, written in 1996, aren't those of an anarchist extremist but
Alexander Walker, cinema critic of the London daily paper Evening Standard.

Four years later, his prediction has been fully realized. The instrumental

weapon against pedophilia is reaching the hysterical McCarthyian apex,
spamming a gallows fever and a creeping fog over consciousness. We affirm
that with the pretext of "protect the children" individual rights are
hit. What is happening is due to various initiatives of political and/or
catholic lobbies whose requests for censorship of ideas and behaviours are

fullfilled without hesitation from a State that doesn't conserve anything

secular. In particular the internet has become the scape goat and the gym
in which bureaucrats and politicians  intent on brandishing as an elctoral

club a theme that would require deeper levels of reflection  give evidence

of their technical incompetence and cultural retrogression. In the dominant

disinformation, texts and images that have always got "a right of
citizenship" in the Italian newstands and bookshops, as soon as they are

placed on the web appear surrounded by an evil aura, instantaneously
becoming a "threat" to morals, to the children safety, to the civil

The last two episodes, which happened in Rome, should sound a warning bell

in the ear of those who don't wish to return to the Ancien RE9gime. What
happening in these hours in Rome is incredible. In two days, two cases of
censorship have fallen on the Roman Civic Network, hitting two groups,
AvaNa Net and The Thing Rome, highly active in these years in the
telematic, cultural and social fields. To determine the choice of the City

of Rome to obscure the pages of these two groups, the anti-pedophilia
hysteria fed by different
organs of information and by a political class incapable of distinguishing

pedophilia from a critical reflection on the same phenomenon, morbid images

from common prints of the 1700s.

  Following the umpteenth denunciation by Father Fortunato di Noto, the
priest President of the "Rainbow Association" , whose mission is to hunt
pedophiles and satanists on the Internet (he is also known for taking on
those pernicious cartoon characters Sailor Moon and the Simpsons), the
vicedirector general of the City of Rome, Mariella Gramaglia, decides to
obscure on the 2 October, the pages of AvanaNet, an historical group of the

Roman telematic scene.

Various Italian national newspapers, such as Il Messaggero, Il Corriere
della Sera, La Repubblica, report, on 3 October, extracts from the site
containing some messages on the presumed sexual pleasure that minors would

feel in erotic rapport with adults. That's enough to provoke the
denunciation of the courageous priest and the explosive declarations of
Gramaglia, who after having suspended the site, threatens to denounce AvaNa

"in civil and criminal courts to have offended her honor and that of the
City of Rome".

What the newspapers omit to say, or say in an incomplete way, is that the
phrases in question come from a book - published in its entirety on the
site - entitled "Let the little children..." and signed  with the pseudonym

Luther Blissett. Re-inserting in the right context - that it is an enquiry

into the phenomenon of pedophilia and the political instrumental use that
is made of it  the phrases in question in fact lose any morbid profile

"Let the little children..." is in fact a counter enquiry on pedophilia and

satanism that in 1997 sought to make some clarity in the ubiquitous media
hysteria and focused on the risk of a new level of limitations of civil
liberties. In the text there isn't the slightest exaltation of any form of

violence against minors or adults but, being a serious enquiry, the book
contains many citations from clinical  studies that take into
considerations sexual experiences between minors and adults. In particular

the citations quoted by Father Fortunato di Noto has been extracted from a

book of psychology "Child and Sex", published by Little Brown and Company,

publishing house that is part of the multinational group Time Warner.

It's also interesting why AvANa had decided to reproduce the whole book on

the space given to AvANa  by the City.  In 1998, Lucia Musti, Public
Prosecutor in the case against the satanist sect of "Children of Satan" -
(the case resulted in the absolution of all charges)  asked for the seizure

of the book and denounced two ISPs and the print publisher Castelvecchi. In

solidarity with the denounced providers AvANa publicly decided to give
space on their site to the book.

The book (in Italian) can be found online at the following URLs:

Strange that the charge contested by Musti against the author of the book,

was the one of defamation via  press and "abuse of critique" toward her
operation in the proceeding against "Children of Satan". Strange that a
Public Prosecutor, usually very attentive to questions related to
pedophilia, didn't reveal any causes to proceed criminally against the

Without keeping in consideration all the context and all these precedents,

the City of Rome attributed the responsibility for the contents of the book

to AvaNa, throwing mud over a piece of history of social telematic in Italy

with its declarations. But the story won't finish here...

Second Act: the prints of the 1700s enter the scene

The second act of this sad tale begins on 4 October when the group
of The Thing Roma - one of seven nodes of the international network
of The Thing dedicated to net art and net culture- realised that an
HTML document on their site containing an interview by Ricardo
Dominguez with Francesca da Rimini, alias doll yoko, (originally
published on The Thing New York in 1996), had been removed. A letter
of explanation from Mauro Biddau, member of the Vice Direction
General of the City of Roma and webmaster of Rete Civica was
received by The Thing on the same day. In this letter Biddau
admitted to having removed two images from the HTML document (but in
fact he had removed the entire document) because "they were not in
line with the rules of agreement between the City of Rome and
non-profit associations for the development of the Roman Civic Network".
But in reality this accord limits associations to not using the net to
transmit material which might be offensive to anyone.

The incredible thing is that the images in question - that you can see
together with the interview (in Italian) at (or a slightly
different version in English at - have been used in
"dollspace" (, a well known work of internet

art, financed by the New Media Fund of the Australia Council, winner of two

international prizes, exhibited in numerous festivals and its "perverted
pages" acquired by the University of

Furthermore, the GIF animations in question had been created from original

etchings by an artist using a Dutch printing press in 1789 (what a
subversive date!),  one of the first illustrations of the
political/literary works of the Marquis de Sade (another noted pervert, but

unfortunately his texts are now legal and in
general circulation). Other images from this often reproduced series, also

capable of provoking "scandal" and "offence", even if they were created 200

years ago, can be found at

After having stared at all of this we are feeling totally in accord
with Father Fortunato di Noto in the affirmation that:

"Each person, each association, each institution [...], should reflect
more often on what's happening and then, overcoming stupor and
concern, ask themselves how all this could have ever been possible
and how a public administration could have made it possible.
And wait for a reply from whom can and must give it".

We think that the time of waiting is over. And that it is necessary
to take back the words, against censorship, against the way in which the
"protectors of children" operate, and against certain media workers and

public administrators who propagate public opinion campaigns which produce

as their only result a new witch hunt.

It is necessary to arrive at a total campaign that rebuts the
dangerous perception that is being created around those who simply
intend to express their true thoughts, to make political or cultural
action, or in the end, to breathe. Your help can be precious:

Please send this message to Mauro Biddau:

Mauro Biddau <> Web master of the City Council of Rome
Claudia De Paolis <> Member of the General Direction of 
the City Council


Send them as an attachment images of the 1700s prints from this website:

Or from Doll Yoko's dollspace website:

Create your own form of protest and spread it.

Subscribe to this appeal at:

The Thing Roma <>
Wu-ming <>

Best wishes,

The Thing Roma
Wu Ming (Bologna)
4 / 10 / 2000
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