The road to Hell is paved with good intentions -- and also skulls, probably. No supervillain can compete with the accidental cruelty of a do-gooder who didn't think things through. Here are a few times cities or countries tried to solve big problems with the very best of intentions ... and their very worst ideas.
In less than a century, Germany went from causing people to flee in terror to welcoming almost a million refugees in one year, because history loves a good plot twist. Naturally, all those people needed a place to live, so Germany further proved how much they'd changed by housing some of them in a comfy building at Dachau. Wait, where have we heard that name befo-
Oh. Oh nooooo.
Of course, they aren't using the World War II "barracks" we associate with the Holocaust. Instead they're using the "good buildings," like the herb garden at Dachau. Because it's OK for Germany to house persecuted ethnic groups in a place where Germany eradicated persecuted ethnic groups, as long as it isn't where they tried to sleep while stacked on top of each other. One politician pointed out that "turning the former barracks into a refugee center would make it a 'better memorial site than a museum would be.'" It's certainly a better option than turning them into a McDonald's, we'll give him that.
The problem with public urination isn't only the smell and the fact that you might see a dick while not in a dick-seeing mood. Years of people relieving themselves can actually cause damage to concrete and structures, not just your psyche. Well, Paris and Amsterdam have had their fill of people letting loose, so they've taken steps to rid the city streets of golden showers. In order to stop their residents from peeing in public, they've been installing easily accessible urinals ... uh, also in public?
Yes, you can now go in massive containers sitting in the street instead of directly on it. This is the equivalent of your mom giving up and letting you have pizza for dinner, but insisting you eat it with a fork. It's a victory for decency and decorum, but a very small one.
Except for people with incredibly shy bladders, these pop-up pee stations probably work pretty well ... if you have a penis. If you don't, street urinals don't exactly help much, since you probably aren't an Olympic-class hoverer. After women protested the lack of friendly facilities, Amsterdam installed a "hidden" urinal just for them. It's stored underground during the day, and pops up at night to catch those "I can't make it home" beer pees.
For the record, we have no idea what Paris and Amsterdam have against setting up some good old-fashioned Porta Potties.
Canada's kids can be as badly behaved as the next country's, probably because they haven't lived in Canada for that long. A couple of schools are taking steps to address students' pent-up energy in rather ... Hunger Games-ish ways. Since regular recess wasn't cutting the mustard, school officials took the next logical step: they set up playground mosh pits and let the kids go at it.
How do these "rough play zones" work? To be fair, the rules are more detailed than the WWE's. "On snowy days, a play-fighting zone is outlined by cones," and students who choose to enter can "shove, grab and wrestle in the snow to their hearts' content." Kids aren't allowed to kick, hit, bite, or throw stuff, but they can grab clothing to "make their opponents fall." They can also "pile up," "grab each other," and "roll on the ground together." Then they all apologize a bunch.
School officials insist that it's helping kids focus and get their wiggles out. They're also careful to distinguish between rough play and actual violence, and they are quick to remove the Nelsons who are only there to beat up the Milhouses. But really, whatever. This is probably some initiative aimed at teaching future Gretzkys to win fights.
If you're unfortunate enough to owe the government money in Germany, they can show up at your house and take your shit. Sorry, we meant "your Shih Tzu." When one family in the city of Ahlen fell behind on their debts, city officials stopped by their place to look for "nonessential household goods" to seize. They passed over a laptop, a coffee maker, and the father's wheelchair, because come on, they're not cartoon villains. Then they walked away with the family's beloved dog, Edda. OK, we take that back.
The family of five, which included three young children, were behind on their bills because the father had been recently paralyzed in a work-related injury. Among other things, they couldn't afford the city's "dog tax," which sounds like a cute name for all the cords and remote controls you'll lose by being a dog owner, but is a real thing that costs around $90 per year.
So how exactly did the officials cash in on Edda? It's not like she poops out golden turds. Easy: They sold her on eBay for a mere $850, which they called a "pragmatic solution" to the family's debt problem. Both the family and the buyer (who was unaware of the backstory) are currently seeking legal action against the city, while Disney tries to decide who'll voice the dog in the inevitable adaptation. We're going with Steve Buscemi.
Faced with declining childbirth rates, Denmark decided it was time to deliver a simple but important message to its population: Fuck more. But how do you motivate people to get down and dirty with their significant others? Why, by reminding them of their mothers, of course.
The idea behind the "Do it for Denmark, Do it for Mom" ad campaign was basically that your mom deserves some grandchildren, goddammit, so get busy already. While it coincided with the government's own efforts to put a fire in everyone's loins and received ample airtime on Denmark's national broadcaster, the campaign was in truth masterminded by a company called Spies Travel.
Under the logic that couples are more likely to have sex during vacations, Spies offered an "ovulation discount" for women traveling during their fertile portion of the month. And if a couple managed to get pregnant while abroad and produce the necessary evidence, they'd be eligible to receive a whopping three years' worth of baby supplies. Parents are still on the hook for supporting their cute little sex trophies for the remaining 15 years.
One of the ads even encouraged mothers to buy (potentially erotic) vacations for their weird shut-in sons, because hey, weirder things have happened.
Meanwhile, Copenhagen released its own ad campaign telling young adults to make vigorous use of their private parts before they wither and fall off. The remarkable thing is that all of Denmark's begging for sex may be working. The country saw an additional 1,200 babies born in 2016, the year following these ads. They're really hoping the trend continues, so they're working on a new series urging dads to head home and play with the box the baby came in.