Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, the parents of Seattleite-turned-dubiously convicted murderer Amanda Knox, have just been indicted on libel charges in Italy for telling a British newspaper that Italian police abused their daughter during an interrogation. They now face up to three years in prison. It's a similar charge to the slander accusations Amanda herself is facing for talking the same shit about the cops. Meanwhile, here in Seattle, verbal and written trashings of the local police force are as common as a light drizzle and as healthy as an apple a day.
Or there's David Rengo, the man who's repeatedly accused known "Mexican piss" stomper Ofc. Shandy Cobane of choking him in the back of a police car.
There are websites aplenty in which the SPD is routinely called a corrupt and racist organization.
Add that to the host of critical stories published on this site and others, in which accusations--well-researched, but not always proven beyond a doubt--are thrown around without a second thought--which in Italy could get us tossed into jail.
It comes down to the United States' strict definition of defamation, which must include five elements for a plaintiff's case to be upheld:
(That the alleged defamation be): (1) a statement of fact, (2) that is published, (3) that is of and concerning the plaintiff, (4) that is defamatory, (5) that is false and (6) is the result of fault of the defendant. The first five elements are examined above. No matter where libel occurs or in what medium, the plaintiff must prove the same elements.
We won't pretend to be as well-versed in Italian law as in U.S. law, but needless to say, its interpretation of defamation is much looser.
Not to mention that while Italian authorities seem perfectly comfortable with prosecuting folks for saying mean things about police, it's not until now (literally, today) that an indictment is finally coming down on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for spending nearly every free moment balls-deep in random teenage hookers--all the while heavily criticizing anyone who dares to point out his dalliances.
So enjoy your ability to criticize authority, Seattle. It's a freedom not all people enjoy.