Some are surprised. They ask: "Why the hell did you announce the prank before pulling it? Now the Carlino hacks will know and won't be cheated!" You sure? The following piece appeared on the Carlino frontpage on Saturday, August 3rd 1996:
Enter the "Hunters of Satan"
A mysterious committee let the Carlino find a skull, bones and letters. The gloomy bundle was arranged in a rucksack. Are we dealing with the remnants stolen from Marco Dimitri's sect?
Report by Biagio Marsiglia
A mysterious group, sworn enemy of the Evil One's acolytes, kind of a team of "Satan Hunters": their cry of battle is a quote from the book of Revelation, a promise of total war against the likes of Marco Dimitri, Piergiorgio Bonora e Gennaro Luongo, the Bolognese satanists ended in cuffs with the charge of rape of minor [...] Now it will be the magistrature, and particularly the investigating magistrate Lucia Musti, who will handle the "hunters of Satan," be they real or fake. The same magistrate who demanded the arrest of the three young members of the "Children of Satan," who, according to a first reconstruction of the facts, are alleged to have organized and held a satanic rite involving a child only two-and-a-half years old. They slipped him into a coffin, close to a corpse, and finally raped him with a pencil. It is the same rite referred to by the authors of the anonymous letter that put the Carlino on the trail of the gloomy bundle. The missive, with the address printed by computer, was posted in Bologna on the 3rd of July, just after someone had taken the trouble of going to the station's left luggage office, leaving the rucksack in custody. A simple action. It's sufficient to pay five thousand lire; they give you a coupon and you go away. Sometimes the personnel of the big halls where the luggage and parcels are bundled open them and check the contents, sometimes they don't. It's evident that the rucksack (which was seized yesterday by the Attorney) had not been opened. It remained there for a month, until, for some reason, the envelope got to its destination (the crime news reporter) and was picked up. Cost of the operation was 295 thousand lire [approximately $160], because, after the 2nd day of deposit, the fee passes from five to ten thousand lire. This mysterious "Committee for the Protection of Morals," staging its first coup in Emilia-Romagna, left traces in Viterbo.
The article is illustrated by two colour photographs of the skull and the rucksack.
We claim to be the authors of the prank by a press release that ends with this sentence: 'I have made up these news - how many were made up by the Carlino? A journalist calls from La Repubblica; she says she'd like to write a piece but her editor disagrees. The whole story is too scabrous and the game of the battle of newspapers is not worth the black candle. The only newspaper to cover the hoax is a non-Bolognese one, Il Giorno. On August 10th, Diego Gabutti writes:
A wonderful story, one of those at the borders of reality, strong and massive, likely to give theological shivers: a cemetery in the moonlight, the devil's worshippers are going to sacrifice their usual human victim. Bright white bones, a skull grinning and shattering its jaws, then the anti-satanist hunters attack. A great pity it isn't true. It deserved to be, but no way: the story is tall and the Carlino swallowed it. The clandestine exorcists, alas, don't exist. The whole business is a trick by Luther Blissett, the media guerrilla who for years has been pulling pranks on newspapers and publishing houses inventing news, stunning the media, countering the meaningless of the chronicle by even worse nonsense, blow to blow [...] Were they only jokes, we would laugh and say amen. But there's something disturbing in the mirages focused by Luther Blissett. Each successful prank of the mass media guerrilla hints at a radical doubt about the nature of information and reality. Might they be jokes, voluntary or involuntary it matters little, this news flowing before our eyes, including the one that this time inspired the guilty, pleading and recidivous [Blissett]? The "Satan Hunters" don't exist. Why should the "Children of Satan" themselves exist?
On the same day, some friends of Gennaro Luongo's write to the newspapers demanding that his detention be turned into "domiciliary arrest." They want the situation to be sorted out "clearly and quickly." Dimitri, Bonora and Luongo are seriously weary, owing to their detention. The circumstances are so hard that we're glad to see the adjective 'alleged' preceding 'sexual violence' on La Repubblica.
We plan an autumn campaign, contact the novelists Enrico Brizzi and Stefano Benni, talk with Monteventi. In September, we announce a petition and a series of articles in Zero in Condotta. Here's the headlines of L'Unita and La Repubblica of September 24th, 1997:
Children of Satan: "Here's the counter-inquiry."
Luther Blissett defies the Attorney and the press.
In the next issue of Zero in Condotta a special feature against the tendency to create monsters
A call concerning Dimitri: "Release him"
The front against the inquiry is born
We start to reconstruct the case in Zero in Condotta, study the casuistry of SRAs, order American books, search the Internet. Eventually, our focus shifts from the particular to the general, i.e. to the connections between the long wave of moral panic that comes from the US and the mass hysteria which is storming Europe. I decide to write a book. Zero in Condotta also publishes the text of our appeal.
Since the 6th of June, Marco Dimitri, Piergiorgio Bonora and Gennaro Luongo (also known as the "Children of Satan") have been imprisoned in the Dozza jail on the most serious charges: moral subjugation and sexual abuse of minors. Such prolonged "provisional arrest" has prostrated them physically and psychologically. On August 9th, the lawyers of Luongo and Bonora demanded house arrest be granted to their clients, but to the Attorney they are "socially dangerous," and as such not to be released.
A few months ago, in Bologna, house arrest was been granted to some Nazis responsible for a revolting "immigrant bashing" session in the center of the town. Does the court for re-examination consider the "Children of Satan" more dangerous than the fascists?
Despite the "presumption of innocence" and, although in the course of the inquiry doubts have arisen and keep on arising about the reliability of the testimonies, the accused seem to been found guilty already. A denigrating press campaign has upset the town since before the very arrest, preparing the field for whatever repressive choice is made; after the arrest, the tone became still more hysterical, and sensational disinformation surmounted the danger level. Very little room was allowed to the defending counsel, while the public prosecutor Lucia Musti could use all the information organs as platforms to display her theory (of a national "network" of pedophile satanists having Bologna as its centre) and to announce the opening of new "trails": the "Campany trail," the "Ligurian trail" and so on. Many of the articles published about the case were sheer fiction.
Now the methodical demonization (never was a term more appropriate) continues on a national scale, involving "death metal" music, "role plays," and so forth. Censorship is demanded at the top of people's voices. In the market of feelings, "indignation" seems to be the most demanded goods, but, as Nietzsche would say, "nobody is more false than an indignant man."
All this in the guilty silence of the "warranter" opinion leaders, of the organizations for human and civil rights, of the homosexual organizations (Dimitri and Bonora are gay, and it isn't hard to see enforced in this inquiry the equation gay=child rapist). These defendants are not "politically correct," they are "ugly, dirty and wicked," and almost nobody wanted to soil their hands with them.
We oppose such a climate of witch-hunting, and demand: 1) the release of Dimitri, Bonora and Luongo; and 2) a global reconsideration of the case in the local and national media: equal opportunities for accusers and defendants, hospitality for critical voices (which we hope will be more and more so). Luther Blissett Project - Enrico Brizzi (writer) - Valerio Monteventi (city hall counselor for the PRC) - Grafton 9 Bookshop
During the following weeks, we start to register reactions by the groups and individuals we have mentioned. On the 3rd of October, L'Espresso publishes a pseudo-investigation by one Enrico Arosio about an alleged "Satanic revival" in Italy. Arosio interviews Father Giuseppe Ferrari, spokesman for the GRIS, who says: 'We have registered connections between Satanists and groups of autonomists and anarchists.' Although Luther Blissett doesn't have anything to do with the spectacles staged by nihilists and politicos, it isn't difficult to decode the allusion to the Luther Blisset Project. Anyway, Cardinal Biffi's talebans can't hang us in the street . . . yet. An interesting detail: according to Arosio himself, the GRIS 'works on behalf of the bishops, waving the flag of social panic.'
Likewise, three days later, Canditi points out that the Dimitri affair is causing more nervousness than the kidnapping of Aldo Moro. It is a tongue-in-cheek reference that only a few people can understand: the comparison with the endless series of Moro trials would sound bizarre hadn't Luther Blissett made clear the "political" weight of the events. It seems that both the GRIS and Canditi are warning - by coded references to terrorism and ultra-left subversion - anyone who dares criticise the new Inquisition. However, Canditi should know better: the vanguard of hate-spreaders is entirely composed by his colleagues, not to mention Lucia Musti herself, who 's being interviewed every day.