Why was clemency trending last week?
1921, from Italian partito nazionale fascista, the anti-communist political movement organized 1919 under Benito Mussolini (1883-1945); from Italian fascio "group, association," literally "bundle" (see fasces).
With fascism, originally used in English in its Italian form, as an Italian word. [Fowler: "Whether this full anglicization of the words is worth while cannot be decided till we know whether the things are to be temporary or permanent in England" -- probably an addition to the 1930 reprint, retained in 1944 U.S. edition.] Fasci "groups of men organized for political purposes" had been a feature of Sicily since c.1895, and the 20c. totalitatrian sense probably came directly from this, but influenced by the Roman fasces, which became the party symbol. Related: Fascistic.
Said of a computer system with excessive or annoying security barriers, usage limits, or access policies. The implication is that said policies are preventing hackers from getting interesting work done. The variant "fascistic" seems to have been preferred at MIT.
In the design of languages and other software tools, "the fascist alternative" is the most restrictive and structured way of capturing a particular function; the implication is that this may be desirable in order to simplify the implementation or provide tighter error checking. Compare bondage-and-discipline language, although that term is global rather than local.