Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cow-a-bunga bunga: Berlusconi bows out

I’m a big fan of comedy, even though it can be a bit close to the bone at times. People often criticise comics like Frankie Boyle, who is known for his foul language and politically incorrect humour. I don’t go to see him because I don’t think he’s funny, but if you’re easily offended, it’s best to give him and others like him a wide berth.

But what about jokes you can’t avoid hearing? Imagine turning on the telly and hearing David Cameron making offensive quips. Ok, so that would never happen… But if you were Italian you could (until now) have expected this on a regular basis from Silvio Berlusconi. If he’s not doing something illegal, he’s saying something that should be. He makes Wubya sound like a silver-tongued rhetorician, as these five ‘Berlusconisms’ show.
  1. “When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said 'Yes', while the other 70% replied, 'What, again?’”
  2. “All of us have a homosexual part of 25%, which I also have. The only thing is that I, after a profound examination, have realised that my homosexual part is lesbian.”
  3. “Ah, Barack Obama. You won't believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned.”
  4. “I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone; I sacrifice myself for everyone.”
  5. “An Aids patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him would do any good. 'No,' the doctor replies, 'but you will get accustomed to living under the earth'."
And it’s not just his words that have got him in hot water; the now former Italian Premier has been constantly in the papers for his sexual endeavours. Allegations of “bunga bunga” parties (don’t ask) and sex with prostitutes have been rife.

The crusty Casanova has also been charged with some pretty serious offences including: false testimony, links to the Mafia, bribery, illegal financing of a political party, false accounting, embezzlement, tax fraud, corrupting a judge, abusing state flight benefits and child prostitution.

He’s avoided conviction for many of these, mainly on technicalities, but perhaps that says more about his Mafia connections than the accusations do. And then there are the times he has been found guilty and changed, or tried to change, the law to get himself off.

So how on earth did he stay in power for so long? Technically, he’s been sworn in four times! Well, Mafia connections aside, he was a wealthy businessman before coming to power. His company, Mediaset, dominates Italian print and television media and he also owns seven-time European Cup/Champions League winners AC Milan.

My theory is that Italians were initially seduced by his ‘charismatic’ approach, a stark contrast from that of his predecessor Romano Prodi, who was a much quieter (and less mental) leader. I think some admired his wealth, his ability to “get away” with things and his prowess with the ladies. I don’t want to suggest he and Hitler are similar in any way, but his hypnotic hold over people, like Hitler’s, is hard for me to comprehend.

At best, Berlusconi is an utter buffoon. At worst, he is a dangerous, narcissistic pervert who got away with it for far too long. Public opinion has finally turned sour, but it’s worrying that countries are still voting for people whose private lives are toxic and public lives are little better.

Thomas Jefferson famously said that “people get the government they deserve”. Whether this is true or not, we do have a responsibility to get involved with what’s going on in our country and beyond; to vote when we’re given the opportunity and to stand up and be counted when we feel our leaders are getting it wrong.

Most importantly we should pray for our current and future leaders; that God will spare us from ending up with the government we really deserve.
Read more from Joy in the upcoming issue of magazine Sorted and in its sister publication, Liberti.

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