Angels And Demons: Does Fame Cost Personal Opinions?

Bibbiano Singers

Facebook posts by Italian singers Nek and Laura Pausini on the recent case of child trafficking in Bibbiano, has led to criticism

Two Italian singers, Filippo Neviani (under the art name of “Nek”) and Laura Pausini have been recently criticized for expressing their concerns on social media about the so-called Angels and Demons case where minors have been unjustly, under counterfeit testimonies, separated from their own families by a charity and given up for adoption by other couples in exchange for large amounts of money.

Hansel and Gretel are now the demons

In the town of Bibbiano (within the region of Emilia Romagna), towards the end of June, the Italian police investigated apparent irregularities carried out by a charity, recognized by the local municipality, which was in charge of managing minors. It seems that the charity was manipulating minors’ testimonies in order to separate them from their families and hand them over to charity members’ own friends or relatives under expensive payments.

The investigations involve the mayor himself, Andrea Carletti, accused of abuse of office now suspended from being a member of the leftist democratic political party (PD), along with other professionals such as social workers, psychologists, and doctors. The list of laws they broke includes alteration of real facts, diversion, domestic violence, extortion, and several others.

Home arrests were declared for a member of the Social Services from the Union of Municipalities, a coordinator of the same program, a social worker, two therapists, Claudio Foti and his wife, both members of the charity Hansel and Gretel.

Investigations began over a year ago when there was an unusual rise in social workers involved who had denounced and notified sexual and domestic violence cases committed by parents on their own children. Police then discovered that therapists and social workers responsible to collect testimonies from these minors were forging evidence to send to the competent authorities. The final goal was to prove a particular post-traumatic pathology expressed by the child in order for the charity to take charge of the children.

Based on the facts collected, these therapists would use a “truth machine” sending electromagnetic signals that would alter the children’s memories and stimulate “fake instances of sexual abuse.” This should not be confused with the “electroshock” machine, yet it is instead a mechanism used in psychotherapy to send tactile and aural stimuli. Drawings have been found that were modified to add specific details of a sexual nature, the children’s home environment were described as dilapidated, and their emotional states in the relationship with their parents did not correspond to reality.

Following these counterfeited testimonies, the police thought that Foti and his wife then took charge of these children. The judge has currently revoked the house arrest; however, both husband and wife cannot leave the city.

Fame and the social media’s flaming sword of criticized personal opinions: there is no right answer

Regarding this case, Laura Pausini and Nek expressed their concerns on social media like Facebook, in support of these children and stating that they thought a stronger justice system is needed. As parents, they expressed the common fear of losing your own child based on false pretences and greater economic good. Criticism flew their way.

Both artists have been told that their statements were unfounded. It was claimed that Laura Pausini was giving harsh judgements on something she was barely informed of, based on her own words, and Nek’s songs were compared “… to Hiroshima.”

Laura Pausini first published a post on her Facebook page stating that she had just read an article about the case and was, “…speechless and not aware of what is happening […] this is news that we should all talk about and be disgusted by […] this is not about politics, it is about humanity, respect, and right to a proper life…” Nek used quite similar words. However, politics got involved regardless.

Italian Minister of Internal Affairs, Matteo Salvini, complimented the two artists on Twitter for speaking out, while others declared that that they should have been more informed before speaking out, since, due to their high number of followers, the way their words resound with the public is fundamental. Especially because, some say, the fact that the investigation is still ongoing, it is too early to make any judgement or comment.

Accusations against the leftists have been made with hashtags as #PDofili (a union of the party’s name PD and the Italian word for pedophiles, pedofili). Interestingly enough though, it seems that the charity Hansel and Gretel received funds from the Five Star Movement.

The two artists have now declared online that their words should not be instrumentalized and were only concerns as parents.

“With great power comes great responsibility”: the difficulties of the Internet and fame

Fiorella Mannoia, another Italian singer, expressed her anger, stating on Twitter that the only important things are that this case should be of immediate importance and that politics should be left out of the sphere for these children. She, who has frequently posted online about politics, supporting politicians directly like Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi (who then stated was disappointed by this), and in the 2013 elections her song became the political soundtrack to political candidate Antonio Ingroia.

Fiorella Mannoia is certainly not the only one using music and social media presence to express an opinion. However, the way of expression has changed. Before the expansion of cell phones or the internet, they did not have social media to expand their network channels like today. Singers like John Lennon would use radio or music; let’s not forget his famous song for peace, Imagine.

Laura Pausini states that, possibly due to other Facebook posts, expressing opinions is now harder because of increased backlash that could affect their careers. The general public can now reply and comment directly to the celebrity.

While you can still express your opinion online, the key I believe, is certainly in knowing what it is better said and done: a proper digital citizenship. Thousands of users probably do not understand digital citizenship the same way and is it not that social media was a tool to be open about our thoughts? Even for celebrities.

A large number of followers can be the key moment where a good cause and news can spread easily. Even Spider-Man’s uncle said it: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Therefore, with fame comes attention and hence, if in the past music itself was the tool, now with social media, the tools have extended. Anyone can post what they think; however, if it is easier for thousands to listen on the spot (think of live videos), the weight of your words is even greater.

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