The 8 Most Horribly Insulting Attempts to Honor the Dead

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, mainly because good intentions don't mean shit if you don't take a few minutes to think things through. So even when you're trying to create a dignified memorial to some historic event, it's important to ask yourself, "Is what I'm about to create actually ridiculous and/or insulting to everyone involved?"

For some cautionary tales of how these things can go wrong, see ...

#8. The Brazilian Carnival Holocaust Float


For those readers unfamiliar with Carnival, it's a weeklong giant party that transforms Rio de Janeiro into a nonstop parade of booze and exposed ass cheeks. Here's a useful primer from former California governor/ Kindergarten Cop thespian Arnold Schwarzenegger:

During Carnival, local dance schools build extravagant themed floats, each equipped with its own dancers, lights, and soundtracks (think the Fourth of July mixed with porn). And the only thing that could ruin Carnival would be a giant pile of emaciated dead bodies mixed with Hitler -- which is exactly how Unidos do Viradouro samba school decorated their float in 2008.

AFP via
"I don't understand what the fuss is about. Over half of the bodies are just sculptures."

Keeping with the parade's theme of "shockers," the folks at Viradouro built a float dedicated to the Holocaust, complete with a concentration-camp-style mass grave made of mannequins and der Fuhrer at the helm. After human rights groups protested the wheeled pile of corpses, the float's artistic director made the tough decision to not have nubile dancers shimmying atop a mountain of genocide victims.

And after a lawsuit was filed by the Jewish Federation of Rio, a federal judge issued an injunction banning the float from the parade until the bodies were removed, thereby taking the "outrage" out of "an outrageous spectacle of feathers and asses."

Speaking of baffling attempts to honor Holocaust victims ...

#7. Berlin's Confusing Holocaust Memorial

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If it's hard to tell what you're looking at there, well, that's the point. Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe cost 25 million euros (approximately $33.5 million) and is an abstract affair that consists of 2,711 concrete slabs laid out over 4.7 acres, and -- save at an information center tucked away underground in the memorial's corner -- indicates nowhere what it's actually memorializing.

Adam Berry/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Wait, really? I thought it was a tribute to LEGO."

So that's strike one -- it's a lot of money spent to memorialize an event done in a way that doesn't actually bring the event to anyone's memory. But it's even worse than that: Because tourists think it's just a big modern art installation or some unfinished construction project, visitors have been observed jumping on it, sunbathing on it, and sometimes even using it as a public restroom.

Adam Berry/Getty Images News/Getty Images

But the memorial's most notable imbroglio occurred when it was revealed during construction that the company that made the anti-graffiti spray applied to the stone slabs was the same company that made Zyklon B, the poison gas used in Nazi concentration camps. A rival firm tipped the media to this connection, making this one of the few times in recent memory in which it was actually appropriate to invoke Godwin's law.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Amazing how with just the slightest bit of human interaction it can change from abstract to surrealism.

#6. The Monument to a Spanish Conqueror Built on the Graves of the People He Conquered

Via VirtualTourist

The Monument to Sebastian de Belalcazar is exactly what it says it is -- a monument to Spanish conquistador Sebastian de Belalcazar, who conquered Equador in 1553 and then Colombia in 1554. The statue was built in the 1940s in the Colombian state of Cauca, a state Belalcazar once ruled as governor. The statue depicts Belalcazar riding a horse that has just stepped on something, while the stone base of the statue depicts the logos of every gang in Popayan.

It's now more of a memorial to early '90s gangsta rap than anything.

So what's the problem? Two things:

One, like all conquistadors, Sebastian de Belalcazar was a Class A dick. One of his main goals in South America was to acquire all of its gold; particularly, Belalcazar wanted to find the fabled golden city of El Dorado and spend the rest of his days surfing on tidal waves of money. Unfortunately, Belalcazar did not find El Dorado, but instead found native Colombians. This was bad news for the natives, because when Belalcazar showed up in their village wearing his bathing suit and snorkel and did not find oceans of gold, he tended to take it out on them. He killed entire villages in rage (one of them solely inhabited by women and children) and enslaved most of the native men.

But the second problem is where they chose to put the statue honoring him: on top of a native Colombian burial ground/temple.

*Record scratch*

That hill there is El Morro de Tulcan, built somewhere between 1600 and 1500 B.C., and so far 60 graves have been discovered inside. The local people became aware of the temple in 1929 when construction revealed that the hill was artificial. But the hill was the most prominent point in town, and the townspeople weren't going to be stopped from lopping off the top of it to build a statue to a conquistador just because it would most likely open a portal to the seventh layer of hell.

It's important to note that they weren't aware of the bodies inside the temple until several years after they had built on top of it. It's also important to note that they now have known about the bodies for more than half a century and still haven't moved the statue, despite consistent demands from native Colombians for them to do so. But this doesn't mean that the government doesn't respect them. In fact, they originally planned to build a statue to native Colombians elsewhere in town (not on top of the temple, of course; don't be stupid, where would Belalcazar go?), but they never got around to it.

Via Wikipedia
"In the meantime, just pretend that he's majestically apologizing, using the hill to spread his heartfelt regret."

#5. Mourners Honor a Car Crash Victim by Doing Doughnuts on a Highway


When a friend of street racer Cali Floyd was killed in a car accident, Floyd and fellow auto enthusiasts felt compelled to do something special for their deceased compatriot. But instead of building a roadside memorial or holding a vigil, the racers paid their respects by illegally stopping traffic on the interstate and swerving around like goddamn maniacs.

In 2012, Floyd and two dozen other drivers met at a predetermined spot along I-285 south of downtown Atlanta. They gradually slowed traffic to a halt by occupying all of the lanes with their vehicles. The front of the pack then broke off and began spinning doughnuts in the middle of the road as tribute to their dead friend. Yes, this is tantamount to holding an amateur knife-juggling service for someone who has been stabbed to death.

While an increasingly hostile audience begins sharpening their own.

This stunt not only backed up highway traffic; it also came dangerously close to necessitating a second impromptu doughnut memorial (see: one guy whipping around near the median with no hands on the wheel). After video of the memorial went viral, Atlanta authorities attempted to identify the drivers, but there's a good chance natural selection will run its course before any arrests are made.

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