Regular readers of this blog know I'm a Christian, so some might assume I'd be outraged that a 70-year-old journalist who has cancer may be facing up to two years of imprisonment in Italy because she wrote a book portraying Islam in a bad light.
I'm not outraged.
All I know about Oriana Fallaci and her book, The Force of Reason, is what I read in this June 23 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. It seems Ms. Fallaci, who resides in New York City, has been indicted by a court in her native Italy for publishing a book that villifies a religion recognized by the state.
I think the Italians have passed themselves a pretty dumb law if it's true that a writer can't publish anything that might be construed to portray a state-recognized religion in a bad light. We Americans wouldn't tolerate that kind of censorship, and sometimes we need reminding that few other countries enjoy the freedoms we take for granted here. But while I believe the Italian law is unreasonable, I'm not an Italian citizen. Surely those folks have the right to make their own laws, even if we Americans think they're unreasonable.
The Journal piece asserts that "Oriana Fallaci faces up to two years' imprisonment for her beliefs." No, she does not. The Italian government has no jurisdiction over what this woman or anyone else believes. Ms. Fallaci faces punishment not for what she believes, but for what she has done. She is an Italian and she is accused of breaking Italian law.
Yes, I believe it's a stupid law, and I'd like to see the lady catch a break. But I don't appreciate the kind of journalism that overstates the facts in an attempt to manipulate my emotions and whip up my outrage. This evidence that Italians don't enjoy freedom of the press is, if not shocking, at least very disturbing to me. But I didn't need to be helped to that conclusion by a journalist's hint that the Italian government is policing people's beliefs.