1997: WELL BEGUN IS HALF DONE
A phone prank pulled by Luther Blissett in January 1997
Don Pierino Gelmini is a famous catholic priest. He is the founder and leader of the Incontro communities, i.e. "centres" for the "rehabilitation" of drug addicts (more properly describable as hard-labour brainwashing camps). It goes without saying that Gelmini, as any other "humanitarian" parasitic businessman, is a relentless defender of drug prohibition laws. His Rome-based acolytes even organised anti-legalisation marches.
Oddly enough, Comunità Incontro has a branch office in Thailand.
In December 1996, the Italian police arrested a Cambodian middle-age man, supposedly a child-trader on his way to Belgium, at the international airport of Fiumicino (Rome). He was travelling with 3 Thai children, whom he described as his adoptive sons.
The news media exploited that event in order to increase the instrumental child abuse hysteria which had seized Europe after the arrest of Marc Dutroux in Marcinelle. Reactionary opinion-makers tried hard to instigate Taleban-like mobs to lynch anyone suspected to be a paedophile.
Since the Summer '96, many people adopting the "Luther Blissett" multiple name have played "counterinformation" pranks on the subject of (ritual) child abuse as a mere pretext for repression. This is an excerpt from a sort of "strategic proclamation" on the subject:
"...We have to get beyond the bounds of information, into a realm where it overturns and shatters into pieces... *détourner* and go deep into paranoia, push their game up to an extreme paradox, sell distorted stories off to the press bounty-killers... Turn the very logic of the system into our war strategy: media homoeopathy" (L.B., July 3rd, 1996). "I" myself am writing a book on the inquisitorial spectacle of paedophilia.
On January 4th 1997, Saturday, "I" phoned the Roman office of the ANSA, a major press agency:
L.B.: Hello, this is Aldo Curiotto. As the official spokesman of Comunità Incontro, I feel bound to disavow the latest news on the arrest of don Pierino Gelmini. The Carabinieri did NOT arrest him, they are just interrogating him. Don Gelmini has NOT YET been charged with a traffic of child-abuse videos.
ANSA: ...Sorry? We haven't received any press release about the arrest!
L.B.: I just told you it isn't an arrest. They're temporarily detaining him in custody!
ANSA: That's quite strange, nobody informed us! What charge have you mentioned? Child abuse???
L.B.: Don Gelmini is supposed to have produced paedophiliac porn movies in Thailand, but there's NO charge, they're still examining him. They're simply holding him for the time being.
ANSA: O boy! [turning to his colleagues] Hey! The Carabinieri held don Gelmini! [background voices: "What?"] Yes, they're questioning him about a traffic of paedophiliac videos! [speaking to me:] Do you want to declare something else?
L.B.: Please, keep in mind that I've called to d-i-s-a-v-o-w! There's no proof of a connection between don Gelmini and the Cambodian man arrested in Fiumicino.
ANSA: [to the colleagues] Christ! A connection with that Cambodian guy! [Speaking to me:] Thank you, Mr. Curiotto. Please give us your phone number, this is going to cause a great stir, we need to keep in touch with you!
L.B.: Yes, of course. The number of the press office is 3725580. That's all for now. Please, show respect for the work of don Gelmini. Bye.
"I" gave them the real number of Comunità Incontro in Rome. Likewise, Aldo Curiotto is the real name of their press agent. "I" perfectly knew that they were going to call back that number. The real Curiotto would have denied the whole story. But I suspected that my story was *novel*, a perfect matter for exploitation (South-Eastern Asia, child abuse, the secret life of a notorious benefactor who also happened to be a priest...). Such an odd attempt at slandering don Gelmini deserved to be covered anyway.
The following day, all the newspapers reported the story under headlines such as:
"Don Gelmini Under Arrest"
Slandered In Revenge?
The Priest: I Got Used To Attacks
("L'Avvenire", January 5th, 1997)
Interviews with Curiotto and Gelmini appeared on the press and were broadcasted on TV. Here's an extract from Curiotto's press release: "An attack on the good name of don Pierino Gelmini has been launched by someone who pretended to be the press agent of Comunità Incontro and spread delirious nonsense using my name [...] My duty is to protect both my activity as a press agent and don Gelmini's reputation."
Some columnists noticed that the "child abuse" phenomenon had been so overexposed in the media that it had become a farce, a subject for gratuitous exploitation, hoax and calumny. Better late then never. It is surely a coincidence, yet the national media has stopped raising hell on paedophilia for nearly two weeks. As to "me", although Curiotto and Gelmini couldn't sue a collective phantom, "I" remained anonymous out there, in the big anywhere.
Now imagine that the police, alerted by my prank, interrogate don Gelmini for real about his business in Thailand...
January 16th, 1997