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May 2018
Sin City
What Happens In Vagas Stays In Vagas

      By Mike La Sorte, Professor Emeritus


Mike La Sorte is a professor emeritus (SUNY) and writes extensively on a variety of subjects.

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IN THE EARLY 2000S AN ADULT Night CLUB WAS BUSY PAYING OFF LOCAL POLITICA NS TO TURN THEIR BACKS AND ALLOW THE CONTINUING BEATING AND ROBBING OF CLUB PATRONS. HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WERE LEGALY STOLEN FROM WEATHY LAS VEGAS RITIREES AND DISABLED RESIDENTS.

I take the above quote of the everyday lifestyle of Los Vegas as an indicator of its culture and expected behavior in the worlds largest and most successful and untouchable criminal enterprise. A conspiracy of silence, lips sealed, heels dug in, the refusal to give evidence, the arrogance of uniqueness, by-passing normative conventions, all indicators of the Vegas moral code and that of the Underworld; a distortion of the principle of manhood. After all, Vegas is a Mob creation.

The cultural atmosphere compares nicely with the concept of omerta’, which declares, in effect, keep your mouth shut; First Commandment: “Thou shalt not squeal on others” and the Vegas culture will be your salvation. For many of us, the omertá sacrament is considered an alien notion, not acceptable in civil society, impossible to come to terms with, an artifact from the dark Middle Ages, anachronistic at best, not in tune with enlightened times, yet here it is dressed up and smoothed out. The word itself is suggestive of a way of life that has its merits: keeping ones affairs to oneself, not interfering with others, choosing neighbors over aliens, fostering an endearing Brotherhood, a protective wall between you and “them”. What is not to like? There is something special about “That thing of ours.” It is the major pillar of our existence. There is nothing new about secret societies, criminal or social: you are distinctive, special, formed of better clay.

I own three old Italian dictionaries. The oldest, from 1890, does not have the word “mafia.” Nor does the 1919, but the 1941 does agree with todays, definitions, but with a difference:

OMERTÁ : Solidarity to those who lead a criminal life by not revealing to the authorities the perpetrator of a criminal act, albeit against himself. The omertá concept is from the Sicilian dialect and is out of use today; It is a derivation of “umiltá” (virtue, humbleness), an act of loyalty that sets aside any thought of a personal vendetta. One theory of its origin is from the Latin “humilitas”. In the Sicilian dialect it is umirtá.

FOOTNOTES. Tommaso Buscetta, a well-known Italian mafia expert, had this to say: “Mafia is not simply criminal activity. It is something much more. It’s a combination of intelligence plus omerta’. Something much different." “There is no friendship in the mafia, only self-interest and death (Ammazzateci tutti: (Kill everyone). If you do not do what they say, you’re finished. The Princes and Barons are untouchable, because they pull all the strings of the political Puppets.”(Gian Luigi Nuzzi, “Blood Ties”)


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