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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