Friday, March 7, 2008

The Franco-Italian Divide

As everyone knows, in France one is not allowed to display ostentatious religious symbols in public schools. Since this law was passed in response to the wearing of veils by Muslim women, much has been written about its gendered significance. An Italian court ruled recently on a different sort of ostentatiously display, equally gendered:

The supreme court ruled that an unnamed 42-year-old man from Como had broken the law by "ostentatiously touching his genitals through his clothing".

His lawyers said he had a "compulsive, involuntary movement" because of uncomfortable overalls. But the court said his behaviour was an "act contrary to public decency" and that the rules "require everyone to abstain from conduct that is potentially offensive to collectively held feelings of decorum".

The judges pointed out that if men needed to grab their crotches, they should wait until they were in the privacy of their own home.

Comparative cultural theorists have a fertile new field to plow. :)

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