Sacralization of the Constitution



Giovanni De Sio Cesari  


A great stir arose in public opinion and in the realm of political controversy following the publication of the book "The World Upside Down" by General Vannacci. There was controversy over the fact that he was removed from his position and later, more or less, promoted to a new role. Firstly, I would note that Vannacci has written things that can be considered either negatively or positively, but they have nothing to do with his military professional abilities. Why should his opinions influence his career? I would understand if it were an analysis of military tactics.


Apart from that, honestly, I haven't read the book and don't know well what this unknown General Vannacci has written. I see a few lines being repeated that should be contextualized within the entire book, but it is understood that the general sees the world upside down compared to the prevailing view today.


I won't delve into the details because that's not the issue I want to address, but it doesn't seem to me that it goes against the Constitution and democracy, which are based on the freedom of expression of minorities. If he had declared, as many do in forums, that our system is a fake democracy, that a violent revolution is needed for a true democracy, that black people cannot hold public office, and things like that, then he would have spoken against the Constitution. But on the other hand, expressing opinions contrary to the Constitution is allowed, as it can be modified according to the appropriate procedures; what is forbidden is to modify it without such procedures, through acts of force (coup d'état and the like).


The problem we want to address is NOT whether these statements are right or wrong, but whether they go against the essential principles of the Constitution. It seems to me that there is a tendency to consider as unconstitutional those opinions that are prevalent at the moment, and this seems contrary to the democratic Constitution. Democracy, in fact, is based on freedom of opinion so that those who are currently in the minority can become the majority and vice versa.


As an example: when the Constitution was drafted, no one thought that homosexuality was normal; then this opinion spread and became prevalent. But can the opinion that it is not normal but pathological be considered against the Constitution? And why? The Fathers of the Constitution believed it was pathological, that whole world that adopted and approved the Constitution.


The problem seems to be what I would call the "sacralization of the Constitution," leading to a kind of secular theocracy. The Constitution becomes a divine and untouchable law, no longer a law that can be modified, albeit with special procedures. Above all, there is a caste that considers itself the custodian of its interpretation, an interpretation that becomes increasingly broad and pervasive in everything.

It is a process similar to theocracy: in it, not only must every rule correspond to what is prescribed in sacred texts, but any opinion contrary to them is also forbidden. On the other hand, what matters is not the religious text itself, always interpretable in various ways, but the interpretation given to it as authentic. Consequently, any other interpretation not in line is considered heretical. In the theocratic states in the Middle East, for example in Iran, women must wear the hijab (veil) even though the Quranic text can be interpreted and is indeed interpreted by many in a more general sense of female modesty, a universal principle also valid here (you can't go to school or the office in a bikini). But a caste of ayatollahs has decided that the authentic interpretation is that of the veil (often a particular form of veil), and it must be imposed on everyone, and criticizing this prescription is considered contrary to national principles.


So, for many, considering homosexuality as a pathology would be unconstitutional. But in the Constitution, there is nothing explicitly stating that homosexuality is normal; it is only an extensive, very extensive, interpretation of gender equality effectively sanctioned by the Constitution. Note that even the principle of gender equality must be interpreted and is indeed interpreted: for example, no one objects that, in general, in the case of separation or divorce, children, especially if they are small, are entrusted to the mother. On the other hand, in the same Constitution, at Article 29, it is stated: "Marriage is based on the moral and legal equality of the spouses, with limits established by law to guarantee family unity." In fact, until the '70s, the article of the civil code stating that the husband was the head of the family and the (strange) right to choose the place of residence did not seem to be unconstitutional. So, until the '70s, the fact that occasional female infidelity was judged more severe than male infidelity did not seem to go against the principle of equality. But at some point, the Constitutional Court ruled that this difference was unconstitutional. And why? Because in the meantime, customs had changed, and that law seemed outdated. But why declare it unconstitutional if what had changed was the prevailing opinion?

Similarly, to stay with our example, the marriage between homosexuals and the registration as children in the registry of babies as children of parents who are not biologically theirs would be prescribed by the Constitution. Why then would it be forbidden, against the Constitution, to say that female infidelity is more severe than male infidelity, that one cannot register as their child someone who is not biologically their own?


Democracy is based on two fundamental principles: political powers are chosen in free elections, and above all, there is freedom of thought; otherwise, elections would make no sense (they are also held in dictatorial regimes).

With this, we do not mean to assert, absolutely NO, that homosexuality is abnormal, that female infidelity is more severe than male infidelity, but that these ideas are prevalent and cannot be attributed to more or less imaginative interpretations of constitutional principles. Above all, democracy implies freedom of thought and the possibility of saying that the Constitution should be modified. It is not a sacred text, not dictated by God, but a document drawn up in a certain historical context, reflecting the prevailing principles.


But the world changes: from a religious point of view, if there is a god, his law cannot change (but it must always be interpreted), certainly, one cannot think that the Fathers of the Constitution had the ultimate, definitive, and unchangeable truth. Rather, democracy is based precisely on change: why then anchor change to a text from the past?


Homosexual marriage is a cultural evolution (better: change) that came after, much after the Constitution: why pretend that the Constitution foresaw it? It seems to us a way to avoid the truly fundamental constitutional principle that rules derive from the popular will through elective bodies. If it is stated that certain rules derive from the Constitution, then popular consent no longer matters: so, if the transcription of the children of homosexuals is provided for by the Constitution, there is no need for a law that cannot be passed because there is no consent, and expressing opposition is undemocratic, contrary to the Constitution.


This does seem like a world upside down, not that of the general. Nor can it be said that it is a matter of evidence because there is no unanimous agreement on these issues: some things seem evident to some, the opposite to others. Instead, it is a matter of intolerance of contrary opinions, which are labeled as unconstitutional, a kind of secular sin.