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Tätertyp, the horror of “copyright”

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Tätertyp, the horror of “copyright”

Tätertyp is not the wrong way to spell the given name of a Mediterranean European head of state, nor a Central European-inspired font, nor even the expensive new iteration of a Leica M-series. Tätertyp is a hideous, obnoxious and obscene word. Tätertyp is the idea that one must be punished, even with death, for who one is and not for what one has done.

Applying “author’s guilt” – this is the translation of this obscenity – during the Third Reich it was not necessary that someone had actually committed a crime. It was enough for him to fall into the “type”, that is, into the “category”, to be punished or put to death. Other than the Precrime of Minority Report.

Francesco Forzati, in an article published in the Italian Journal of Criminal Law and Procedure, effectively explains in a few sentences how author’s guilt works(goes): “The centrality of the fact and of guilt (for the fact) will thus be replaced by for the conduct of life, inferred from the anti-social nature and the moral unworthiness expressed by the behaviours. The final outcome of the process of de-materialization of the liberal crime of Enlightenment matrix will be the Gesinnungsstrafrecht of the Kiel school, or the theorization of the Täter-Prinzip, as a criterion of legitimation not so much and not only of the type of author, but of the ontological category of the enemy of the people, who will channel the punishment on an entirely ethical, ethnic and anthropological disvalue.

For decades, at least in Western democracies and certainly in Italy, those who have dealt with criminal law have cradled themselves in the reassuring belief that this barbarism was now consigned to history and that no one would ever again be punished for their “difference” compared to the ” healthy spirit of the people” and therefore to the “moral values” of the “collectivity”. Then came the Duck Test (if something “looks like” a duck, then it “is” a duck), only instead of being used to recognize palmipeds, it was applied to terrorism. In the name of an ambiguous criterion of “prevention” the coincidence between reality and perception was sanctioned. Therefore, if something – someone – “is” as dangerous as it “seems” I can also shoot them because I can’t risk being wrong. And if I kill him… never mind: it seemed real. Finally, social networks have arrived with their tremendous ability to catalyze the “ethical” beliefs of a horde of irrelevant individuals and trigger destructive reactions directed towards those who are not included, not in the individual, but in the myriad of “types” created by each . But it was first with COVID-19, and then with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, that the Täter-Prinzip definitively resurrected stronger and more deadly than ever, applied not only by packs of rabid jackals who savagely assaulted those guilty of ” doubt”, but also by politicians, rulers and information professionals who have largely resorted to the shortcut of the stigma as an instrument of social control and repression of critical thinking.

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Without hiding behind a finger, it is good to understand clearly: the point is not “clearing customs” in the name of politically correct superstitions and unfounded ideas and to argue, therefore, that the “no-vax” were (right to be) right or that the “putinians” are in the “right”. The right to express an idea does not, in itself, make it acceptable or correct. The question that should be asked, however, is why we have decided that a public debate on issues, literally, of life and death, must be conducted by a limited number of people, exalting ethical visions (or, more meanly, the “in my opinion”) of this or that “talking head” instead of comparing facts and arguments supported by those who have knowledge of the facts. And we should also ask ourselves why those who are invited to explain facts that fall within their knowledge speak from authority and not from authoritativeness and slowly but surely slip into claiming to express themselves with presumption of truth even on topics of which they know nothing.

There is, however, an even more troubling question posed by the resurrection of copyright guilt, and it concerns what we have become (or have discovered we have always been) thanks to the ubiquity of profiling and the widespread belief that, in fact, the human being can be classified into “types” or rather into “typ” not only to sell him something, but to govern him on the basis of the “place” he deserves.

There is a blasphemous link between the author’s guilt of the Nazi period, modern “digital marketing” strategies and those of social control such as nudging based on profiling. The link is the belief, moreover empirically proven true, that freedom is such only within a cage with solid bars and with the key broken in the lock once locked inside. The important thing is that the cage is comfortable enough not to provoke the desire to escape, or sturdy enough to discourage it; and which allows summary justice to be done against those who dare to attempt to escape or even think of doing so.

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Unlike Nazi ideology, however, the figure of our time is not only the dangerous return of the ethics of the state (or rather of supranational entities) as a substitute for the law (that is, for political mediation between different visions of the world), but the individual arrogance on the basis of which to claim absolute value for beliefs that, in other times, would have lost their meaning as soon as the door of the house was closed behind one’s back.

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