Maurizio Gasparri, the deputy speaker of the Italian Senate and a member of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) coalition, has long been known to Italians as a political brawler who never shied away from a verbal confrontation. For Italian speakers, his Twitter feed is a trove of colorful insults, which the former government minister hurls liberally left and right (mostly left: the 58-year old Gasparri was a member until the mid-1990s of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement.)
On Saturday, he may have finally gone beyond the pale, with a celebratory tweet after Italy beat England 2-1 in the World Cup. An avid soccer fan, Gasparri did not mince words to mock the defeated opponent: "What a pleasure to f*ck those stuck-up and a*s-hole English," he tweeted. (Mysteriously, Gasparri used an ellipsis for the vulgar verb, but spelled out in full the last, offensive noun.)
Fa piacere mandare a fare .... gli inglesi, boriosi e coglioni
â€” Maurizio Gasparri (@gasparripdl) June 15, 2014
More sportsmanlike Italians promptly pounced, with ironic tweets denoucing Gasparri's boorish behavior. "Your Majesty, let me introduce you to the deputy speaker of the Italian Senate," one tweeted -- to which Gasparri, known for getting into vicious one-on-one Twitter fights, replied with a bizarre rejoinder: "The Queen just called me and you know what, she told me I'm right."
The controversy was picked up by the Italian edition of Wired magazine. The magazine's website noted that Gasparri -- a controversial figure even on the right, where he has made many enemies in a political career that began as a high school student leader -- wasn't just antagonizing Twitter users. (Notable ad hominem tweets from Gasparri's timeline this weekend include "You're an idiot"; "You're pathetic, I'm blocking you"; "Quit doing drugs"; "I've sued you and blocked you".)
Wired noted that the prominent politician was also praising bizarrely those who agreed with him, including one to whom he tweeted "You can be foreign minister, if that shampoo girl can" -- an insulting reference to current minister Federica Mogherini, who has previously been the target of sexist digs from Gasparri. "When you're minister she can bring you coffee," he went on.
When Gasparri got wind of the Wired story, he replied personally, and in kind: "Blocking nobodies like you is an absolute pleasure," he tweeted to the magazine.