Barnum Circus or European Parliament?Between Freedom of Speech and Stigma

The European Parliament is a strange place, we all know it. Politicians who could not find a suitable chair at the national level, Europhobic fellows, but also racist, crusaders and misogynists.  On March 2, Polish conservative politician Janusz Korwin-Mikke insisted that “women must earn less because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent. They must earn less. That is all.”

POP already talked about the Polish party “New Right” in another post, and that party later became KORWiN (Koalicja Odnowy Rzeczypospolitej Wolność i Nadzieja), and now simply Liberty (Wolność). Of course, that’s Mr. Korwin-Mikke’s party.

“Do you know how many women are in the first hundred of chess players?” he continued: “I tell you – no-one”. Probably Trump will start using this (fake) statistics in his anti-women speeches from now on.

Will the EP tolerate such an outburst? Foreseeing the future is difficult, but in the meantime it is worth reminding that the new president of the European Parliament – Antonio Tajani – founded Forza Italia with Silvio Berlusconi in 1994 after years in the Monarchist movement. Berlusconi is notorious for his jokes and behavior concerning women, their objectification, their role as dancing bodies. And, of course, as someone to reward for their ‘performances’ with a seat in the European Parliament. Just as  reminder, Berlusconi loves to say in public the following joke: “When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said, ‘Yes’, while the other 70% replied, ‘What, again?'”.

Another recent scandal  within the EP involves Marine Le Pen, French candidate at the presidency for the Front National. Indeed she does not only post videos with cute cats.

Apparently she also posted pictures of Islamic State violence – including the beheading of American journalist James Foley – and for this reason European Union lawmakers lifted her EU parliamentary immunity.

Reuters reported that “The offence being considered is “publishing violent images”, which under certain circumstances can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($78,930).”

It is worth to remind, moreover, that “Le Pen has already seen her earnings as MEP cut for a different case involving alleged misuse of EU funds” and that also in 2015 she (temporarily) lost her immunity for comparing Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two.

Another big fan of *freedom* and democracy, Geert Wilders – founder of the Dutch “Party for Freedom” – has recently been found guilty of inciting racial discrimination. Indeed, in March 2014 he led a chant calling for “fewer, fewer” Moroccans in the Netherlands. Needless to say, the group in the European Parliament called “Europe of Nations and Freedom” includes both Front National and Party for Freedom, and it is chaired by Marine Le Pen and Marcel de Graaff (PVV), who even got a fine because he keeps voting on behalf of Le Pen when she is absent.

Wilders and Le Pen have become heroes of freedom of speech after the last scandals, gaining visibility and exploiting a controversy to spread fear.

But what about Mr. Korwin-Mikke and his misogynist positions? We know what Trump would say (*fantastic, huge, I agree*) but what does the European Parliament say? On this regard, it is always better to remember that Berlusconi in 2010 claimed: “It’s better to like beautiful girls than to be gay.”

What does Mr. Tajani – long-time political ally of Berlusconi and now President of the European Parliament – have to say? Will he defend freedom of speech or enhance minorities protection and equality of opportunities? Will he punish racism and misogyny or allow them in the name of democracy?

So far, (not) so good. The idea of a #Marshallplan to manage the migrants from Africa together with Egypt seems not very promising:

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