Friday, November 19, 2010

La Piazza

Maya today

During the fall 2 years ago (while just beginning treatment for BC), I attended an Italian film series at WSU centered around the concept of la piazza, the town square. The movies were from various sections of Italy; some were comedies and some tragedies but the theme  was that what laws that should to be enforced were decided by the gossips sitting around the town square more so than the justice system.

My favorite was Divorce, Italian Style. A man is married to a very clingy, obnoxious woman. He really wishes he were rid of her and has a suitable replacement in mind. Divorce was illegal however in the early 60s. He is made aware of a possible loophole: if you catch your wife in the act with another man and  you kill her, the penalty was significantly lighter. In especially egregious cases, the judge could give you less than a year in jail. Since the judge had to live in the town with the people, he was mindful of what the town thought he should rule. But how to entice his wife into having an affair especially when she is so obsessively devoted to him? He hilariously manages to. He bides his time into exacting revenge. He pretends to be upset that he is cuckolded  though secretly, he is delighted. People are gossiping away on the piazza how if he were really a man, he'd kill the wife. He knows the longer he waits, the less his sentence will be influenced directly by the piazza.  But of course complications arise....

Marcello Mastroianni is just great in this movie. The movie and he won all sorts of awards. See it if possible.

One hand gesture we learned in Italy, more insulting that a raised middle finger, was 'fare del cornuto' which looks identical to  the Hook'em Longhorns gesture. There, it could get you killed as being cuckolded is not respected and the gesture implies that that is what is going on.

But no piazza here. We have comments on the on-line version of what our newspaper has morphed into second guessing judges, assuming the worst in people, suggesting possible punishments for situations they know little about. Most of these comments are anonymous and rarely well thought out. There were two cases today as fodder for our modern day piazza.
Case 1
This has made national news. A high school teacher in solidarity with some gay students, wears a pro-Gay t-shirt. A student  in his class says something to the effect that he hates gays. The teacher kicks him of the classroom. When the teacher is asked by this same student, what about his rights to free speech, the teacher says there is no right to free speech in his classroom. Although the teacher is seen by some as a national hero, he is suspended by the school system.

The discussion in the piazza:
Students have a right to free speech. Since when? When a teacher requests silence so he could teach or kids could concentrate on a test, is this invalidating constitutional rights? Do kids have the same rights as adults? How to maintain order in the classroom? If a kid says he hates Blacks in a classroom with Blacks, can he be censured? Yes, but gays are not a race, they are a life choice. Since when?

Case 2
 This also concerns a local high school (as in my childrens' school) teacher. This teacher has been on leave for a few months for something that is not disclosed in the article. He is very popular with both students and parents who rallied at a school board meeting for his support last night. Both parents and students gave examples of miracles he has performed.

The discussion in the piazza: 
We as tax payers have a right to know details of the suspension! If he is accused of something, he must be guilty (that's my favorite). Why publish this story at all, when not all the facts are in?
It doesn't matter what a person is 99.9% percent of the time, it matters what happened in that 0.1%. (interesting: there was a variation of this in that movie about a nun finding goodness on death row, only I guess that would be the inverse) More examples of miracles he performs from various teachers and students. The paper chimes in that they gave the teacher a chance to tell his side in the paper but he declined. Well gee, why wouldn't he want the personal details of his life for all the world to see? He must be guilty of something awful!

On for tonight: Mom's group. Sorry about the lack of a homemade dessert ladies, I will make up for it.

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