Updated: Italian Politician Goes to the Mattresses Against YouTube Commenters


UPDATED: Salvatore Cuffaro, an former Italian politician who was found to have ties with the Mafia in Italy, is taking legal action against 4,609 YouTube (s GOOG) commenters.

This story comes via Techdirt and Boing Boing, and there are some issues with translation, but here are what seem to be the basics: The video (embedded here) is from the early ’90s and features Cuffaro before he was elected president of Sicily in 2001. Stefano Polli, a Boing Boing commenter, provided what he says is a translation of what’s happening in the video:

The man onstage with mustaches on the right is one of our civil heroes, Giovanni Falcone, an anti-mafia judge that paid his commitment dying in the most terrifying of the cosanostra attacks, the Capaci carnage.
The yelling guy is Salvatore Cuffaro 10 years before becoming the president of Sicily. He is complaining about how journalists and some kind of magistrates (referring to Mr. Falcone) are damaging sicilian politic system and the whole Sicily with their “false” accusations, even more than CosaNostra itself.

We’re not sure exactly what legal actions Cuffaro is taking, but on Oct. 22 he “laid charges,” writes Boing Boing. An anti-corruption Italian political party called Italia del Valori has offered to cover the legal defense of any of the commenters that need help.



A few annotations :

1) “Italia dei Valori” is not an “anti-corruption” party, it is just a party. The leader of that party is Antonio di Pietro, who gained his (relative) popularity as a magistrate in big anti-corruption proceedings in early 90s. While we all agree that italian politics were quite corrupt, there is still a lot of debate about how he used easy “preventive” jailing as a way to have people “confess”. His son (and more or less indirectly the party itself) has been involved in a quite scandalous corruption/recommendation related fact just a few months ago.

2) While I personally don’t like Antonio Cuffaro, and I don’t live in Sicily, I’d like to have people in the rest of the world understand that “being tied to Mafia” might mean having had dinner in the same restaurant, in the same evening, when someone else, that one year later is found “being tied to Mafia”, was eating.

Mafia is not a recognized entity with people subscribed on a public, or in which everyone dresses old-style italian clothes and bring a machine-gun at parties … whether a person is tied to Mafia, is just guilty of something without any connection with Mafia, or is a Mafia boss, is not that easy to understand…. a bit like Al-Qaida :)

If it was, Mafia would not exist.

3) Judges in Italy are often involved in politics, they even have public politically-oriented groups, it has been established that it is their right to express political opinions. Moreover, many magistrates and judges use scandalous proceedings to make a different career in politics (like the afore mentioned Antonio di Pietro) or journalism .. no matter if what they say is then proven to be real of not, cause it will take years.

So taking for granted that when they decide that a politician is guilty then it is true is, unfortunately, not possible.

I’m not defending Cuffaro in any way, and I really think that he (and many, probably most, maybe all) of past and current italian politicians should leave, but I’d like foreign people to understand the situation in its correct context, cause foreign commenters often only tells the facts, and doing so they depict what happens here in the context of how things work in their countries, which is unfortunately quite different (at least on the surface) from how things are here.

Chris Albrecht

Thanks, Simone. It’s certainly difficult to fully grasp what’s going on there from around the world and through multiple translations. Appreciate your input.


I don’t think there is much hope for the country if people like this get elected. I expect and hope the public will be much more careful about who they vote for in the future.


Cuffaro is not a former Italian politician. He is currently serving as a national senator in the Italian parliament. And this despite his conviction last year of collaborating with Mafia members.

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