The Null Device
The World's Oldest Multinational Corporation:
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International have urged the Vatican
to apologise for tacitly supporting of castration of choirboys
, as recently as
1959. The practice,
used to make male singers with childlike range and the vocal power of a man, was officially
banned by the Vatican, but believed to have been tacitly encouraged, on the
pretext that the boys in question were castrated as the result of an
accident (such as falling from a horse or an animal bite). Many poor
Italian parents had their sons castrated in this fashion, tempted by the
promise of a lucrative musical career.
(Incidentally, the issue is mentioned in Jeanette Winterson's novel
Art and Lies
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