Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roberto Saviano- I hate Gomorrah

Three years after the publication of his ground-breaking work on the loathsome Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, 29-year-old Roberto Saviano expresses regrets about having published his book Gomorrah. In a very interesting article published by The Times of London, Roberto gives details of his so-called life under police protection. It includes moving every few months and being unable to do even the simplest things on his own, like going shopping.
He thought that when he was assigned protection, it would last a matter of weeks, maybe months. Now, not yet thirty, he sees the possibility of a life sentence, or rather, a non-life sentence. He maintains that he is not afraid to die but afraid that the powerful Camorra will eventually be able to defame him in order to discredit him. Asked if he regrets the expose', he replies that he regrets it as a man, not as a writer. Italian that he is, he points out that as a Southern male he never learned to cook and now sorely misses his good chow. Separating an Italian from good food is certainly cruel and unusual punishment.

Some of the commenters archly write: what did he expect, the naive child? A subtle insult- you weren't heroic, you were stupid. Yet why shouldn't a young person (or for that matter any person) in our society have the expectation that if he or she goes against corruption and wrongdoing they will be able to survive? To argue otherwise is to maintain that we are not under the rule of law and that the social contract is null. With the enormous implications you can imagine.

No, he wasn't naive. Go back to that great Western masterpiece, High Noon. Our small town sheriff, Gary Cooper, who is about to retire, is goaded into one last action against a newly-released gang of criminals who have terrorized the citizens. They say that they'll be with him in his fight. When the time comes, almost everyone reneges, placing Cooper in an impossible predicament. From which he is saved in the nick of time by his pacifist Quaker wife, Grace Kelly. The townspeople encouraged him to expose himself knowing they wouldn't act. How was he to know?

In this regard, a quote attributed to Edmund Burke is often cited: "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." But are they good men if they do nothing? And this is the crux of the matter. The millions who have bought his book, watched the movie, discussed him, praised him, signed online petitions supporting him cannot really count as doing something. Although they undoubtedly think they do. When Giovanni Falcone, anti-mafia judge extraordinaire, was predictably blown up with his wife and police escorts seventeen years ago, his colleague and friend, prosecutor Ilda Boccassini, said that he died because he was left alone.

And Roberto, acclaimed author of a book that has sold two million copies, is alone.