Giorgio Agamben: Two Names

[Translation posted December 1, 2021. Original text at Quodlibet. The full text of Allessandro La Fortezza’s letter can be found here; several websites have posted the full text of Andrea Comperio Ciani’s letter, but I haven’t been able to verify their accuracy.]

Two names to keep in mind: Alessandro La Fortezza and Andrea Comperio Ciani, two teachers who are prepared to resign from teaching because they refuse the Green Pass as a tool of social discrimination. Here are some words they wrote, the first in an open letter to his students, the second in a letter of resignation to the Vice-Chancellor of the University where he teaches.

“Dear children, in June we were saying goodbye to each other with an ‘arrivederci.’ Today instead I must tell you that we probably won’t see each other at school in September… I’ll get the vaccine when and if I become convinced that it’s the right thing to do, certainly not to go to restaurants, concerts, or wherever else. Not even to keep the job. Let’s remember that ‘man does not live by bread alone’ (Matt. 4:4)… Even if someday I should decide to get vaccinated, or if I should feel the need to submit to a diagnostic test, I wouldn’t, however, download the Green Pass, so that my individual choices, whatever they may be, wouldn’t become cause for discrimination against those who make different choices.”

“Colleague Vice-Chancellor, (I won’t use superlatives for that which follows), I the undersigned Andrea Camperio Ciani, full professor of this free University of Padua, having learned of the Vice-Chancellor’s decree that the Green Pass will be compulsory for giving lectures, declare formally, to you, and for the knowledge of the Minister of the University, Maria Cristina Messa, and the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, that I will have the honor and dignity of remitting before you my Green Pass.”

Two examples which, if they were followed by other teachers, would take away all value from the infamous decree of a government that discriminates against those who refuse the Green Pass (as though they’re second-class citizens), in the same moment in which—with a proper decree (n. 44/2021, now converted into law)—it has exonerated itself from all responsibility in the case of death or injury caused by the vaccines. It’s time, both for teachers and for students, to find once again—after two years of a state of exception and the cancellation of all the most basic liberties—that political conscience that seems to have disappeared from schools and the university.

August 28, 2021
Giorgio Agamben