Forgive Me, Big Daddy, For I Have Sinned (the Caso Marazzo)

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I’ve certainly got no objection to kicking a guy when he’s down, especially when he’s yet another slimy Italian politician doing his level best to keep up with the crop of crooks, tin-pot dictators, hypocrites, and stooges that are currently in charge of Italy’s government, but Piero Marazzo, the ex-governor of the Lazio Region, makes things too easy.

Let me bring you quickly up to speed: While he was still the head of the Lazio Regional government, we are now given to understand, Mr. Marazzo spent a certain amount of his free time frequenting transsexual prostitutes and snorting kilos of coke. Four police officers discovered what he was up to but—this being Italy, instead of, I don’t know, Los Angeles in the Daryl Gates years—they did not, naturally, arrest him. No. They got someone to film him, and then tried to blackmail him.

In a series of events worthy of a bad Grisham novel, all of this eventually came to be reported in the press, whereupon Marazzo very quickly resigned from his job.

Many, many details remain unexplained, however. In the days and weeks since the “scandal” broke, Marazzo issued a series of statements in which he revealed, as La Repubblica put it with admirable bite, “truth on the installment plan.”

The Reader’s Digest version:

1) I was being blackmailed.
2) I was being blackmailed, but I’m not guilty of any of the things people are saying!
3) The video of me having sex with a prostitute doesn’t even exist, and I’m being manipulated.
4) No, wait, OK. Yeah, actually, it does exist.
5) I’ve made mistakes in my private life.
6) I’ve made mistakes in my private life, but I never used drugs!
7) All right already, a few lines of coke now and then, OK, I admit it.
8) Leave me alone! My life is a nightmare! The media has destroyed my entire world!
9) I’m going on a spiritual retreat. No one should try to contact me.
10) I realize I need to ask for forgiveness, so I’ve decided to apologize … to the Pope.

And that about brings us up to the present, when Marazzo’s letter to Pope Ratzinger arrived on the desk of Vatican Secretary of State and Papal Chamberlain, Tarcisio Bertone. Somehow (I can’t imagine how, but perhaps you’ll have an idea) the existence of the letter was leaked to the press (though the specific contents are not yet known and, the Vatican says, never will be—for which, Heavenly Father, please make us truly thankful).

The letter was presumably written during Marazzo’s several-week spiritual retreat at the Benedictine Abbey in Cassino (Province of Frosinone) where he has been dedicating himself to “light farm work, prayer, and meditation, constantly attended by the discreet presence of the Abbot, Piero Vittorelli.” (Vittorelli, by the way, told La Repubblica on November 21 that Marazzo had “been engaged in the extremely delicate process by which a person emerges reborn.”)


Be that as it may … back home in Rome, things are a great deal less bucolic.

In fact, two central figures in the case have been murdered: the man who supplied Marazzo with coke and apparently shot the incriminating video, and a transsexual prostitute (a Brazilian native known only as Brenda) with whom Marazzo was filmed “in a compromising attitude.” The investigation into the murders is “ongoing,” which is police-talk for “no leads in sight.”

Naturally, the relentless media spotlight on the neighborhoods where Brenda lived and worked (and where a group of other transpeople and prostitutes continues to live and work) meant that everybody quickly figured out where to find them—including the hooligans and petty terrorists of the Lazio’s extensive black-shirt “community.” For the last month, beatings and attacks on trannies have occurred there on the average of one per day.

Marazzo, for his part, continues to refer to himself as a good Catholic and a dedicated husband and father and to insist that his only concern, now that his political life is over (let’s not take bets on that yet), is keeping his family together. So far, however, Marazzo has yet to release one public word of regret regarding the death of Brenda; the fate of several other trannies, caught up in the investigation, who were sent off to be deported for illegal immigration as soon as police were done interrogating them; or the climate of terror that has spread among transpeople in Rome.

Just talking for a moment about those whose entire worlds have been destroyed….

Following the murder of Brenda on Novembre 20, meanwhile, a second witness to the Marazzo episode, another prostitute identified only as Natalì, has been placed under police protection. Last night’s poll to the public (Call right now! Our lines are open! It only costs one euro to vote!) on a popular current-events show: “Do you think it’s fair to expect taxpayers to provide police protection for a transsexual prostitute?”

I won’t bother to tell you the result.

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Posted on 27 November 2009, in Italy, Italian, Italians (in that order), You Can Always Count on a Little Homophobia and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. >Well, one of us had to deal with this, Wendell, and I'm glad you took the load on your own broad shoulders. It stinks from start to finish, and you've made that abundantly clear. I think it was Augias who pointed out that forgiveness from a local priest had just as much weight in spiritual terms as it does from the pope, but is rather less newsworthy. It's worth remembering though that Marrazzo isn't even a politician. He fronted a consumer rights TV show for years and was roped in by the centre-left as the kind of man who might win an election, as indeed he did. I live in Lazio and haven't even noticed him as governor of the region, but governors of regions – especially in opposition – aren't as influential as they like to think they are, so that isn't surprising.I must say that I find his constant revision of the truth authentically human (which isn't a defence) in a way that stubborn blanket denial – the more usual political option – isn't. And he did resign when his position was untenable, unlike certain other people, who will be only shoehorned from their strongholds after death. Mind you, I'd still like to know where the money came from…

  2. >Good points, CL; of course I can only agree. I suppose what I'd have liked to have seen was a third option — a simple, straightforward statement saying, "I broke the law by using coke and, however I may personally feel about it, I'm ready to accept the legal consequences. My sex life, on the other hand, is not illegal and is no one's f'ing business, so bugger off." Instead, all that sniveling and worming around — and then running off to beg absolution from St. Benedict of Prada — that's what strikes me as truly immoral (in the wider, grander scheme of morality). Plus, he gets to continue to say he's a "good Catholic and a family man" (without bursting into flames), and the Camerlengo actually carries his sorry-ass letter to his boss … but *we're* perverts? I remained of salt, as they say….

  3. >So is the next version of this story, courtesy of a readers digest recap, going to include a memoir of a stop over in a Minneapolis Airport Restroom and a certain Idaho Senator? Certianly that's all that's missing to make the story complete, and of course fit for an American Catholic Audience….

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