At the request of Minister Alexandre de Moraes (who else could it be?!), the Regional Electoral Court ordered former prosecutor and candidate for federal deputy Deltan Dallagnol to take down a video in which he calls the Federal Supreme Court of “Mother Joana’s house”. According to the judge who handed down the sentence, the expression is “clearly an attack on the supreme institution of the Brazilian Judiciary”. I disagree. If there’s anyone offended in this story, it’s mother Joana, poor thing. No one deserves to have the house compared to the STF.
It is not known, however, that any mother named Joana has filed a lawsuit against Dallagnol. Also because mother Joana as I imagine her must be a woman busy working to support and raise her children. This imaginary Joan of mine takes care of the house with care. See if Joana’s mother will have the time, money and disposition to feel offended by such nonsense! Anyway, let this day of infamy be recorded for posterity: the day a judge prohibited a citizen from comparing Joana’s mother’s house to the STF.
The original Joana da The expression Deltan Dallagnol accurately uses was the Queen of Naples and Countess of Provence Joan I. She lived in what her history teacher called the Dark Ages: the Middle Ages. According to Câmara Cascudo, who increased but did not invent, Joana I was responsible for, in 1347, regulating the brothels in Avignon, France. Ah, these progressive feminists…!
History flowed and, with the usual delay of a few centuries, arrived in Portugal as “mother Joana’s home”. In Brazil, our linguistic malignity replaced the pompous “paço” with the simple and effective “house”. And the expression is no longer used only to refer to brothels. Any self-respecting dictionary recognizes today that the proverbial house of mother Joana is just a place where anarchy reigns. Including – why not? – legal anarchy.
As you can see, expressions are incorporated into the language by strange means. The original Joana didn’t even speak Portuguese and today she’s here, brightening the pages of Gazeta do Povo. Being used not for the chronicler to talk about brothels or any sexual licenses, but for him to talk about freedom of expression at its most elementary level. That is, the constitutionally guaranteed right to use popular expressions to make a fair, very fair, very fair criticism of a morally bankrupt institution. And that is, yes, a mess!
Perhaps Dallagnol’s mistake was not to make clear in his video some important dissimilarities between Joana’s mother’s house and STF. Mother Joana, for example, does not pursue businessmen who complain about her house in the WhatsApp group on the street. Mother Joana also does not use illegally obtained evidence to overturn a former president’s conviction, making him eligible. And above all, mother Joana does not pretend to be a great defender of democracy while, little by little and with a hard face, she takes away our individual freedoms.
Having said that, all I can do is trust the goings and from the world and in the strange ways of language. And imagine, in 700 years from now, a random mother Joana who opens the door of her teenage son’s room. She sees socks strewn about, the bed unmade, packets of chips on the floor, sneakers hanging from the ceiling fan. Breathing fire through her nostrils, as they still say in the century 28, she shouts: “Get it fixed now, AdM ! I want to see this room tinkling, huh? What were you thinking? That this is the STF?!”.