3 Ways Italy Is Trying to Undo the Renaissance

The Renaissance featured some of the greatest artists and intellects the world had ever seen. Now they're cheaply drawn turtles who hit people, and Italy wants to continue that trend.


Also: How stupid was it that they made Donatello the inventor, not Leonardo?

#3. The Reverse Witchcraft Trial

In an attempt to reverse the Dark Ages but still end up with something terrible, an Italian court has sentenced six scientists to prison for not predicting the future. Before the L'Aquila earthquake of 2009, scientists of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks explained that the hundreds of recent minor tremors didn't change the risk of an earthquake, which couldn't be excluded. Unfortunately, a commission civil servant then excluded the shit out of it at a press conference by saying that it was safe to stay at home and drink wine. This quote was popular, because "drinking to convince yourself everything will be fine" is always popular.

Getty
"One more glass, then I'll find a nice fault line to nap on while holding all my valuables."

When this misinformation killed people, the media pounced on the arrest of the scientists, because the alternative was admitting "That's kind of our fault for reporting sound bites instead of facts." Leading Italian scientists resigned in protest. So Italy can look forward to weather reports issued by a shaman slaughtering goats on live TV, because from now on no one will so much as predict who's there after a knock-knock joke. You also have local government, which let people live in non-earthquake-proof old buildings in the middle of a possibly literally goddamned earthquake zone, but we're sure the word "scapegoat" never entered their heads. If only because the word is "capro espiatorio" in Italian.

#2. Arresting the Internet

In 2006, several strong arguments for contraception uploaded a cellphone video of themselves bullying an autistic kid. When Google executives were notified of this, they instantly removed the video, coordinated efforts with the police and helped identify the culprits, and they were arrested. And we're being tragically grammatical with pronouns, because "they" still means "the Google executives."


Google's official response.

A Milanese public prosecutor indicted four Google employees for a video they didn't film, appear in, upload or allow to remain uploaded. Then a Milanese judge proved that the Italian legal system can't even screw up consistently by only convicting three of them. We would love to know how the fourth guy got off. If this court is already sentencing defendants completely unrelated to the crime, whatever he did must have be a cheat code for the legal system. The others were sentenced to six months before the sentences were waived, possibly as the blind idol of justice herself said "Even I can see that this is stupid."

Giuseppe Cacace / Getty
"Seriously, guys, justice much?"

The basic prosecution argument was that Google was responsible for everything on YouTube. Which is clearly impossible, because they're not all sterile from skateboarding injuries.

#1. Foreign Food Is Scary

After jailing science, then trying to arrest technology, Italy has erased so much human history that they're now trying to reverse the spice trade. The Italian town of Forte de Marmi looked at the 15th century discovery of trade routes, realized that meant dealing with foreigners, went "ugh" and banned ethnic restaurants.


Local businesses scrambled to comply with the law.

Mayor Umberto Buratti said, "This measure has nothing to do with xenophobia -- it is about protecting and valuing our culture." Because nothing says "non-xenophobic" like legislating against businesses that even smell like they're foreign. He went on to point out, "There's a sushi takeaway, although it's not in the town center." So if you thought someone pointing out that they had a foreign friend was bad, you're right. But when they feel the need to explain that they know about a foreign restaurant somewhere -- but not nearby -- that's their genes trying to tell you that they're sick of being passed back and forth between relatives like an unwanted Christmas gift.

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