Sono Stato a Roma Ma Non Ho Visto Un Cazzo! (I was in Rome and I didn't see dick!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 8.06.56 AMIranian president, Hassan Rouhani, visited Rome recently, and in order to avoid offending his delicate sensibilities, the Italians covered up all the dicks and tits on the statues for him. (fonte) (source)

It probably comes as no surprise to any readers that this bothers me.

Remember when John Ashcroft couldn't handle this?  How about Obama?

Remember when John Ashcroft couldn't handle this? How about Obama?

It isn't that I'm against thawing Iran's relationship with the West. And, maybe that requires us to be a little sensitive — you know, like maybe don't serve Carbonara at dinner, or don't offer the guy a caffè corretto. But, to censor some of Italy's most magnificent art, because this guy might be offended?

But, for all I know, he might have thought "what do these fucks think, I can't handle the sight of a plaster dick? We stone motherfuckers to death were I come from, Mario. I can handle public executions. I can handle public whippings. What you call "gang rape," we call "gently making love." Motherfucker, I made it through the Shah and the Ayatollah. I can handle some stone tits."

I dunno, or maybe he thought "aww, for FUCKS SAKE… I came all this way, hoping to fill my mental spank bank. I gotta go every fucking day where I'm lucky if I get to see a woman's HAIR. I'm all excited to see some tits, even if they're made of stone, and these assholes cover the shit up… and not even with a burkha, with a FUCKING BOX! Jesus, I hate these fucking people."

But, lets presume that he actually appreciated that the Italians decided to protect him from granite ball sacks. You never know, it might have burned his eyes. Although, if the Pope can handle this shit, at least in modern times, then I think that Mr. Rouhani can tolerate walking past a few less-than-clothed statues.

I get a case of the red ass from this from two different perspectives. On one hand, fuck Rouhani. When in Rome, you look at stone nudity. The West (except for the United States) grew out of this bullshit more than a century ago. Yes, a few hundred years ago, some blue-balled fuckhead tight asses at the Vatican either smashed off the dicks of a bunch of the statues or covered them with leaves. But, after that Taliban-esque episode, Western culture sort-of grew up a bit. At the very least, we no longer destroy our patrimony because it might make us clutch our pearls or offend an imaginary friend.

Covering the statutes, whether out of respect or by request, sends the wrong damn message.

I'm not just sticking my finger in the Italians' eye here. Who can forget the episode when George W. Bush's attorney general John Ashcroft lost his shit that Lady Justice had a pair of nice tits? Probably a lot less people forgot that than those who forgot that the Obama administration did the same thing. Yep, the most powerful nation in history is scared of sculpted boobs. So, we are no better.

Meanwhile, in Europe, you see tits on prime time TV, you see them everywhere. Tits. Tits. Tits. It is the Garden of Happy Boobies, everywhere, everyday. Why in the hell should that change because some guy in a dress shows up, much less a guy in a dress who represents a nation that has a somewhat spotty record on human rights? Stone women to death, just don't make me see her tits! That might offend the prophet!

The message this sends, no matter where it is done, is precisely wrong. I think it is fucked up when Americans do it, covering up tits, whether they be on lady justice or on Joanna Angel, in the name of modesty. But, in Europe, to avoid offending a conservative Muslim leader?

No way.

Would a Western leader go to any non-western country and expect them to cover up their art? Would we go to Iran and expect them to serve bacon and booze?

We live in a world where extremists destroyed priceless cultural relics in the name of their particular brand of Islam. The Bamiyan Buddha Statues stood for 1700 years, until the Taliban blew them up in the name of Islam. Islamic extremists burned Tripoli’s Al-Saeh library to retaliate for a mere pamphlet. Daesh destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra. In fact, Daesh is on a rampage to destroy all cultural heritage that doesn't meet with its approval.

It is not fair to say that Islam itself is at war with cultural patrimony. Muslim heroes died trying to save artifacts in Palmyra. And, if you go back far enough in history, it was the Muslims saving cultural heritage from the Christians when they lost their minds about this kind of thing. Nevertheless, there is a brand of Islamic extremism, which has begun to infiltrate Europe, which would be delighted to see the Vatican museums, the Louvre, and the Uffizi Gallery reduced to rubble.

This cowardly cover-up gives aid and comfort to the enemy.

I admit, covering a few statues, temporarily, is hardly the same as destroying priceless artifacts. But it is a symptom of the same disease — "erotophobia." And if we yield to it, even in this small way, we let the camel's nose in the tent. (This is partially the point in my latest law review article)

Personally, I'd love to wag a dick in this guy's face for the sole purpose of insulting Iran's fucked up sensibilities. Although, I do think we ought to be better friends with the Iranians, in general. But, that's a rant for another day.

But, lets set aside the Randazza school of diplomatic protocol, where we just keep a bucket of dicks around to throw at these kinds of people. Lets just look at it somewhat sensibly. Would this really have offended him? If so, take him somewhere else. Take him to the Colosseum and tell him about how many people were publicly killed there. He's the president of Iran, that would probably give him an erection more than a pair of stone tits.

We should stand against censorship and erotophobia every time they raise their heads. If we yield, even in this seemingly small and temporary way, we give credit, credence, and weight to those who say that there is "something wrong" with erotic expression. We give credence to the notion that there is something wrong with tits and cocks, and that there is nothing wrong with censorship.

Will this really be the end of it? Perhaps. Or, could it go further? At what point will we do this for other leaders? Guys who are rich enough that we want to keep in their good graces? (UPDATE: Yes, apparently so) Muslim day at the museum? What about other belief systems? What about when there is a group of feminists visiting? Do you think that a Smith College women's studies class could walk through an art museum in a few years without some professor who looks like Benny Hill with tits squealing "can we get some muscle over here?????" to get the statues smashed to bits, lest they "trigger" some little snowflake?

No, we need to resist this kind of thing… and I mean everyone, everywhere, every fucking time.

If the Italians were really concerned about this, the best way to deal with it would be to, perhaps, give him a "trigger warning" like every other little precious delicate snowflake wants.

"Hassan, we're now going to see some art. You might not be used to seeing tits, but this is some of the best stuff we have to offer. Welcome to our culture. If that concerns you, you're more than welcome to wait in the car. Either that, or might I interest you in this cordial invitation to go fuck yourself?"

Or how about take him to the museum, but blindfold him? That would be appropriate.

If you can't handle seeing art, then cover your own eyes. The rest of us will just keep on being free grown ups.

Last 5 posts by Randazza

Comments

  1. Chris says

    Agreed. We shouldn't be censoring art, especially preemptively because someone might be a prude.

    "But, lets set aside the Randazza school of diplomatic protocol, where we just keep a bucket of dicks around to throw at these kinds of people."

    Who taught you diplomacy? You can't just throw dicks at people. You have to be subtle. You get a bushel of nice stick-on dildos, and you have a guy sneak in and mount one on their headboard. Or waisthigh in their shower. On the hood of their presidential sedan. In line with the podium when they are about to give a speech. The important thing is deniability, you can't be the gut that throws dicks at people.

  2. Old Smokin' Egg says

    'Taint just bodily parts that trigger this kind of silliness. When His Holiness Jay Pee Squared did the public-transubstantiation thing in Phoenix in 1987, the venue chosen was Arizona State's football stadium. ASU's mascot is Sparky The Sun Devil, a little guy with horns and a pitchfork, who's depicted here and there all over the stadium. To keep from freaking out the vice-deity, all the Sparkies had to be covered up.

  3. Paul says

    The State Department should take you on immediately! Not least because I think your 'bucket of dicks' approach might improve public awareness of diplomatic developments.

  4. Colin says

    There was another change made to accommodate Rouhani's beliefs: no alcohol on the dinner menu. Wine is a part of Italian culture. Is this being a polite host, or another form of cultural censorship? If religion is the problem, how about vegetarianism on animal welfare grounds. Would it be OK to remove traditional meat dishes from the menu if the guest demanded?

    I thought that this would be a purely rhetorical question, until I read that a lunch between Rouhani and the French president was canceled after the French refused to serve a Halal, alcohol-free meal.

  5. says

    My view is that you serve wine, but he's welcome to decline to have any himself. I personally would probably not order wine if having dinner with a devout Muslim. But, that's different than covering up the statues, I think.

  6. Sinij says

    I am deeply offended by this post and issuing a fatwa against this. The whole thing. With buckets and stones.

    Also, obligatory, who is this Marc Randazza guy? I liked that other guy more!

  7. Albert ARIBAUD says

    Rohani did come to France too. I wonder if we had him visit the Musée d'Orsay, where Gustave Courbet's l'Origine du monde is er, exposed.

  8. E. Harding says

    Am I the only man here who supports Italy's sensible respect for cultural sensitivity? What's wrong with a little bit of friendliness to others every now and then?

  9. Durandal says

    Maybe because it was a museum?

    No, you're right. Tell you what, let's cover up the Korean War Memorial the next time Xi Jingping comes through D.C. It's the only culturally sensitive thing to do.

  10. Richard says

    I've heard that it may have been more to keep his reputation back home. If someone could have taken a picture with him and the "naked" statues, it could have discredited him back home. So, I can see them capitulating if that were the reasoning. After all, however bad you think this guy is, he's still better than their previous President.

    I still think it's rather stupid, but on the scale of "Iranian issues to be outraged regarding," this barely moves the needle.

  11. E. Harding says

    Durandal, what are you, comparing memorials of sacrifice of blood and treasure to a bunch of stone tits? Get over yourself!

  12. Durandal says

    "Durandal, what are you, comparing memorials of sacrifice of blood and treasure to a bunch of stone tits? Get over yourself!"

    From the fucking article:

    Photographs of Monday’s visit show both men standing near a grand equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor. Nude statues in the vicinity were covered by large white panels.

    From the fucking Wikipedia:

    The history of the museums can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on the Capitoline Hill. Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; and collections of jewels, coins, and other items.

    The Capitoline Museums are showcases of the archaeology and history of the Roman Empire.

    "Stone tits", indeed. I have no desire to discuss this issue with a philistine who will furiously masturbate himself with patriotic fervor at the thought of HIS particular Korean War ox getting gored, but takes a big stinky shit on antiquity.

  13. Sami says

    I think the anti-nudity obsession in the West generally but America so very much in particular is a problem. Applying it to classical art is just over-the-top ridiculous, as well as a crime against some of the most beautiful work humanity has ever done.

    Also, yes, seriously, don't encourage this shit. It doesn't stop. Christianity got into this kind of mode and ended up burning the Library, and humanity was and remains the poorer for it.

    While they no longer have the reach to annihilate the bulk of accumulated human knowledge, there is still a lot that, if lost, can never be retrieved.

  14. Sami says

    (Sole exception, possibly: the tits on Michelangelo paintings, because what the everliving fuck.)

  15. Jason says

    I'm with you, Harding. This was an issue that affected no member of the public. It doesn't offend any legal principal I've learned about reading this blog. Nobody's freedom of expression was squashed, not even the long-dead sculptors.

    Associating the word censorship with this is nonsense. Hasn't Ken made like 20 posts about how crying censorship over things that have nothing to do with free speech rights only demeans the importance of actual free speech?

    The slippery slope argument being made here is equally unreasonable. Diplomats did their job, at a diplomatic function, in making a gesture in the hopes of putting a visiting dignitary in the mood to be diplomatic. Suggesting that this will lead to a large scale sacrifice of Western culture to appease a hypothetical tide of erotophobia is wild speculation unsupported by what actually happened.

    Honestly, it mostly just sounds like Marc wants to kick Rouhani in the nuts. Any kind of compromise, even over wine, bothers Marc. Iran has done a lot of awful things, and a strong distaste for its leaders and reluctance to compromise is entirely understandable. But, all that distaste doesn't turn this incident into an example of censorship or some battle in an imagined culture war.

  16. T says

    Covering the statutes, whether out of respect or by request, sends the wrong damn message.

    Kept waiting for this to happen while I was reading because I do the same damn thing pretty much every time I type the word 'statue.'

  17. Rich Rostrom says

    This wasn't about courtesy or respect, it was a about deference. It was about grovelling to an alpha dog.

    Can anyone imagine there is the slightest possibility that if a European president visited Iran, he would be served wine at dinner?

    There is a very clear commandment in the Koran: Islam must be supreme, its rules must be supreme. Other religions or codes may be tolerated, but only if subordinated to Islam.

    Italy's accommodation of Rouhani is seen by him (and Moslems generally) of an infidel country showing that they know their place.

  18. M. Report says

    'If the Pope can handle this shit, at least in modern times…'
    From the Council of Trent to the 18th century, bodily beauty
    which excites to Lust was forbidden; The are still a few censored
    scenes in Michelangelo's Last Judgement.

  19. RebeccaH says

    I'd like to think this was just the Italians protecting their priceless works of art from the eyes and desires of the people who are intent on destroying their own history if it's deemed UnIslamic.

  20. To hoffman says

    The article you linked to said John Ashcroft had nothing to do with the decision to put up the drapes to hide the statue.

  21. birdbebad says

    I agree with Marc, though perhaps with less vigorous thrusting. Regarding issues of diplomacy & decency, I once worked for a US company that bought a Japanese competitor. Before the Japanese management team arrived for our first face-to-face meetings we were given a long set of instructions on how to behave so as not to give offense. A colleague of mine (female, born in Japan but raised in Canada) asked why we had to learn how not to give offense; we bought them, shouldn't they be learning how not to give offense to us (she was animated by the fact that her career advancement opportunities in the US were much greater than if she had stayed in Japan)? My view was that behaving like an American (or an Italian, in the case at hand) should not be something one needs to apologize for, especially if one is not deliberately being a dick (the other topic here). Why could the Italians not simply told the Iranian advance party that they'd like to take Rouhani to this museum, and ask if that would pose a problem? The Iranians could then have decided that they'd rather Rouhani go somewhere else (even if he was cool with boobs but couldn't risk photos being published at home that would weaken his influence). Hell, the entire country is a museum. He could be taken most anywhere and be awed by the beauty (has anyone visited Italy and not been overwhelmed?). It's not like the Italians were taking him to the "Just Dick & Boobs Museum" in order to rub his face in the pubes and make him uncomfortable. Let's treat our guests with decency and respect, but also as adults. My colleagues in Kuwait don't apologize for not serving me bourbon and pork, and I don't take offense that they don't.

  22. E. Harding says

    "I'd like to think this was just the Italians protecting their priceless works of art from the eyes and desires of the people who are intent on destroying their own history if it's deemed UnIslamic."

    -That's the Islamic State, not the Islamic Republic.

    "It was about grovelling to an alpha dog."

    -Neither Iran nor Italy are particularly alpha in behavior.

  23. mikefoo says

    "Personally, I'd love to wag a dick in this guy's face for the sole purpose of insulting Iran's fucked up sensibilities."

    …yeeeaaah, this is why you probably shouldn't be a diplomat.

    Personally I agree that covering up the boobies was a bit silly – particularly without even asking the guy first. But I don't think this "represents" anything more than a country trying to make the highest diplomatic representative of another country feel as disposed to making important business deals as possible.

    So while I disagree with the decision, I don't think it's worth making a huge song and dance about. Diplomacy involves a large degree of sucking up. The only reason this particular instance of sucking-up is making the news is because of the novelty of Iran being able to trade again.

  24. Robert What? says

    I don't know which is worse: the systematic destruction of ancient Christian holy sites by radical Muslims, or the complete silence about it in the West. Even the Pope doesn't seem to care. How about the next time they destroy some ancient monetary, we blow up some Muslim holy site?

  25. Brandon says

    While I'm sure we agree trying to hide the nudity of art is bad, this write up comes off as more than a little Iranian-phobic. After all, I thought this situation was more than a little ironic considering all the dick-chopping art-mutilation that went on earlier in the Vatican history.

    Marc says we suffer the very same problem here but for some reason its the Iranians we need to worry about? Why would I worry about Rouhani or Khamenei or the Revolutionary Guard when our actual problems are people like Ashcroft and Obama who have accomplished the very goals outlined in this article with Lady Justice? The 'slippery slope' is the one we're already on, without any help from foreigners.

    Look, if the Iranian's start getting everyone all over the world to cover up their nudes, I'll start worrying, but until then I'll keep my eye on the real bastards in charge, the ones who get shit done right here in the USA. They're doing a damn fine job keeping us protected from Lady Justice's tits.

  26. naturalized says

    This seems relevant: http://www.vox.com/2016/1/28/10854034/iran-rouhani-italy-statues-covered

    Let's be very clear about something – Italy did this of their own accord. Neither Iran nor Rouhani asked for the cover-up, nor, apparently, even knew about it beforehand. I'm therefore having a bit of difficulty seeing the difference between this and politely abstaining from alcohol when having lunch with a Muslim acquaintance, as Marc himself uses as an example.

    BTW, to the guy who's somehow managed to make this into an issue of which country has greater "alpha dog"-ness, congratulations. So it IS possible to trump Trump, after all.

  27. says

    I don't care whose idea it was. Saying "I'll have wine later, after my friend Abdullah leaves," is a lot different than "Nobody has wine today, because Abdullah is in town." And, covering up art because of some perception that it might offend? Fuck that.

  28. En Passant says

    Colin says January 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm:

    I thought that this would be a purely rhetorical question, until I read that a lunch between Rouhani and the French president was canceled after the French refused to serve a Halal, alcohol-free meal.

    Thus proving the French aren't cheese eating surrender monkeys, and giving freedom fries a new meaning.

  29. Nobody says

    While I'm sure we agree trying to hide the nudity of art is bad, this write up comes off as more than a little Iranian-phobic.

    I'm pretty sure Mark ain't afraid.

  30. Michael Gorback says

    I'll bet Rouhani would have had no problem at all seeing Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ".

  31. Chris G says

    Part of me thinks that Rouhani couldn't give two shits over granite penises.

    But I do wonder how much value a few pictures of him standing next to said statues would be worth to his political rivals. After all, do you think that Ted Cruz would ever be caught dead next to a statue of Baphomet?

  32. Anon Y. Mous says

    Remember when John Ashcroft couldn't handle this? How about Obama?

    This may come as a shock to you, but the press doesn't always give political leaders the halo effect like they do for Obama. In Ashcroft's case, they liked to frame him with boobs. So, when he responded by putting up a backdrop to stymie their "objective" journalism, they then portrayed him as a prude.

    Some leftist lies never die.

  33. Peter Gerdes says

    While I am extremely sympathetic to your point of view and, indeed, believe quite strongly that the various forms of decency regulation in broadcasting are both bad policy and unconstitutional I think you read too much into this incident.

    Iranian leaders are not uncultured. Indeed, Hassan Rouhani recieved his Phd from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. I'm sure he has personally been exposed to no shortage of pictures of naked women and I would be shocked if he is personally bothered (he may or may not think they are a bad influence but that's irrelevant). However, what he personally thinks is irrelevant to the message the gesture sends.

    Covering up statutes is a gesture of politeness and respect. It is like covering up the breasts of the nudes hanging in your home when your aunt comes over for thanksgiving. You know she has seen naked people but she professes to be bothered by that sort of thing so you make a gesture to avoid giving offense. When she sees the coverings she will know exactly what goes there and know you have every intention of removing the coverings when she leaves but choosing not to push your differences in her face is an indication of respect and a desire to focus on issues you don't disagree.

    It all depends on the context this occurred in. If the context suggests that the statutes were covered because the Italians believed that Rouhani's potential religious offense made it morally obligatory to censor than yes it would be the horror you describe. However, that's not a plausible reading of the situation since everyone knows there are plenty of Muslims in Rome every day who might be offended and there is no 'modest viewing hours' for the artwork. Instead I think the context is more like the case of the visiting aunt where the message says, "yes I know you disapprove but I will continue to do this anyway but I value our relationship enough that I won't thrust it in your face while you visit".

    So yes it's silly and kinda childish…and the Iranians probably think so as well (given most of the delegation probably went to school in the west) but that doesn't mean it isn't an effective way of indicating a desire to work together and put aside differences.

  34. Sami says

    Some comments:

    – Rouhani probably would be offended by the "Piss Christ" thing – Jesus is revered as a prophet in Islam.

    – If the French refused to serve a halal, alcohol-free meal to *everyone present* in deference to Rouhani, then fine, but the option of a halal, alcohol-free meal *for Rouhani* should have been there, because there's Principles and then there's Being A Bad Host. You accommodate a guest's dietary requirements.

    – For the dipshit who suggests blowing up Muslim holy sites if Christian ones are destroyed – we don't do that for the same reason that, if someone spills coffee on your shirt, you don't respond by setting fire to his.

    Or if someone spills coffee on a book, you don't burn down a library. In what universe is it sane to say, "They're destroying historic sites, which is bad, so we should destroy more historic sites!!!!"

  35. JWH says

    Union Station (in DC) has a bunch of statues of men with shields. I learned somewhere that the men have these shields because to conceal the stone men's willies.

  36. naturalized says

    @Sami:

    It's not entirely clear, but I think the problem was that the meal was supposed to be a showcase of traditional French cuisine, meaning everyone had to share it – it was either halal for everyone or nothing. The French had no problem taking wine off the menu *for everyone* when Rouhani later visited the Elysee Palace, so I don't think the problem was that they were being shitty hosts – though, of course, I agree with your analysis of the various permutations.

    I'm also quite surprised that the people taking potshots at Islam in this thread do not seem to be aware that Iran (and Rouhani himself) is Shi'ite, unlike ISIS or Saudi Arabia, which are Sunni. Shia Islam does not generally require or endorse iconoclasm, unlike certain radical interpretations of Sunni Islam.

  37. says

    "But, lets set aside the Randazza school of diplomatic protocol,"

    I am now laughing so hard in my cubicle that the rest of the office wants to know what's so damn funny.

    Thank you.

  38. Elvis says

    I'm having trouble working up any outrage. It was a private event it sounds like. Saying "nobody can see this because some people might be offended" is a lot different than saying "we won't show it to you on your private tour". When guests come to my home, especially when they're people I'm trying to suck up to, I generally try not to offend their sensibilities. If they're vegetarians, I will gladly eat a vegetarian meal. When Muslim businessmen visit my workplace and I get to take them out to dinner, I'll take them to a Halal restaurant. That's not apologizing for not being a Muslim, it's just showing good courtesy to someone who I hope to get along with.

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