In Italy there isn’t the horrendous censorship of authoritarian countries but there is a more subtle, disguised one, which leads to the disappearance of many news items, opinions and ideas
OSSIGENO – 9th June 2023 – Ossigeno is grateful to the managing director of the Music Foundation for Rome (Fondazione Musica per Roma) Daniele Pitteri for the sensitivity with which he accepted this year the proposal to entrust Ossigeno per l’Informazione with organising two evenings of music and entertainment within the program of the “Summer Time” concerts at the Casa del Jazz.
These two evenings offer a lot of good music and some brief talks on the theme of censorship, to remind us that this ugly beast of censorship still survives in our modern societies despite their having banned it almost a century ago in the clearest and most impassioned way. Unfortunately it also survives in Italy. Ossigeno wants to remind the public of it by intertwining music and words, and retelling some significant stories.
This is why the series “Stories of Everyday Censorship” was created, which commences on the 9th and 12th of June on the open-air stage at the Casa del Jazz and will continue after the summer with other meetings.
With the format “live music and words”, Ossigeno in recent years, has already conducted numerous initiatives at the Casa del Jazz, generating interest and enthusiastic participation from the public. As a non-profit voluntary association it has done it with the modest means available. Ossigeno has a small budget but it has a rich heritage of skills and experience, accumulated over almost 15 years of activity, half of which through a constant and active presence within the Casa del Jazz.
In recent years, the association has carried out various activities, above all to promote and defend the full exercise of press freedom and the right of citizens (of every citizen) to be informed; and to sustain the memory of 30 Italian journalists who “searched for the truth ” on matters of great public interest and who were killed to prevent them from doing so.
Their names and their faces are depicted on a panel dedicated to them, posted at the entrance to the Casa del Jazz, adjacent to the large memorial which lists the names of 900 innocent victims of mafia.
This memorial has been erected as a permanent reminder to those who frequent this large park and its buildings that they were confiscated by the State over 20 years ago from members of a Rome crime syndicate, demonstrating the enormous wealth the mafias accumulate. They have been entrusted by the State to the Municipality of Rome which, in turn, designated them for social use by opening the park to citizens and making the buildings a concert venue centered on jazz.
Today these assets are managed by the Musica per Roma Foundation (whose principal activities are concentrated at Rome’s large concert hall, Auditorium Parco della Musica). The Foundation has entrusted Ossigeno per l’Informazione with the task of preserving and keeping alive the memory of the Mafia origin of these properties and making them an active instrument for education on legality and rights, organizing initiatives aimed at both young and old.
Ossigeno does so aware of the great cultural and educational potential of the place and is developing a program of initiatives in collaboration with Musica per Roma.
Ossigeno, by statute, defends the right to freely express opinions, the freedom to create literary, artistic and intellectual works without undue interference from powerful forces. In particular, it defends the right of journalists to freely disseminate ideas, opinions, and news without interference from those in power and the right of citizens to know all current information of public interest, i.e., the information essential to participate purposefully in public life.
Unfortunately there are always various news stories that the powerful, for their own convenience, try prevent the citizens knowing about. There are, consequently various interferences by the powerful, the bullies, to prevent this freedom and these rights from being freely exercised. The opposite of this freedom is called censorship.
Censorship is a historic, long-established term and describes as a whole the actions with which those who have power great or small or have criminal force can exercise influence or prevent certain ideas, opinions, and information from circulating and reaching the public.
Censoring actions can be formal, informal, legal, illegal, violent, bureaucratic, legislative, or procedural.
Certainly in Italy there is not the same censorship that exists in authoritarian regimes – in Russia, in China, in Turkey – where dissent is suppressed by the state with laws and official force and dissidents end up in prison or in exile. But there is a modern form of censorship, sneaky, disguised but no less effective.
To make people understand the new censorship that is applied in Italy, and not only in Italy, Ossigeno has collected thousands of concrete examples and with the series of meetings “Stories of Everyday Censorship” recounts some of them, through the participants’ testimonies, so that everyone is aware of censorship and realizes that the problem does not concern only some journalists, as one is led to think, but concerns everyone, each individual and that therefore it ought to figure fully in the long list of problems that we should all, in Italy, be concerned about and should be aiming at resolving soon.