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'F-word not OK for neighbours'

Supreme court adjusts landmark 2007 ruling

28 January, 16:58
'F-word not OK for neighbours' (ANSA) - Rome, January 28 - It is not OK to use the F-word against neighbours, Italy's highest court ruled Thursday.

Adjusting a landmark 2007 ruling that the word was not insulting because it had become so common, the Cassation Court said it should not be used with people living next to you "because neighbourly relations must be marked by greater mutual respect".

"Otherwise, it would be impossible to get along," said the court, which found an Ancona man guilty of "offending the honour" of the neighbours he told to "F-off" in a row over parking last year.

The supreme court earned world headlines in July 2007 when it cleared an Abruzzo town councillor who told the mayor to ''f*** off'' during a stormy town meeting because the expression was now ''common usage''.

However, it has since flip-flopped on the issue.

Later in 2007 it ruled bosses couldn't say employees were ''doing f***-all'' but a similar case in May 2008 saw the court take another view, saying mayors could use the word to swear at contractors.

The following July, it said bosses must not swear at their staff in a case where a Sicilian company director accused an employee of not understanding ''a f***ing thing''.

Most recently, last March, the judges said it was OK to say ''Who the f*** do you think you are?'' to a boss as an ''instinctive'' reaction to being reprimanded.

People take insults very seriously in Italy and cases for attacking someone's honour regularly reach the courts.

photo: Cassation Court opening ceremony

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