An Italian Journalist’s Quest to Regress From Homo Sapiens to Neanderthal

There are reasons why people in and out of Italy believe Silvio Berlusconi is one of the main causes of the dumbing down of Italian people.

The main reasoning is that he has produced a new TV-dependent culture that increasingly has a more difficult time producing critical thoughts on a wide array of subjects. He has been able to set up, to put it in Marshall McLuhan’s words, the “continually beating tribal drum,” where the media is in a state of perpetual inflation of the news.

There are still some who read papers, though, and so to mitigate whatever critical thinking these readers might develop, Berlusconi has been careful to craft the newspaper version of his television credo.

Il Giornale, the daily newspaper that the current Italian prime minister bought in 1977 and sold to his brother Paolo in 1994, is his “drum-beat” machine in the newspaper industry, occasionally supported by the right-wing efforts of other pro-Berlusconi “drum-beaters” such as Libero.

The problem is much larger than a pro- or anti-Berlusconi stance of newspapers in Italy. It is the ultimate watered-down cultural environment they are producing that is most worrisome.

What’s worse, a newspaper like Il Giornale seems to have internalized and adopted a Mediaset (the media empire belonging to the Berlusconi family) approach to news. Instead of striving to be an instrument of truth and enlightenment, the paper has thrown all its aspirations of educating while informing out the window, chasing news stories with an approach that is so simplistic it is horrifying.

That is how you end up with veteran editor Vittorio Feltri writing one of the most outrageous editorials I have read in my life, titled “Those youngsters incapable of reacting.”

Feltri writes about the July 22 tragedy on the Norwegian island of Utoya, and he asks himself why the attacker met no resistance from the nearly 500 people gathered for a political youth camp.

I am translating from the Italian:

“One must ask why the killer hasn’t met any type of resistance. Let’s reason. Five, six, seven, ten, fifteen people, and all unarmed, are not able to annihilate a lone enemy holding a weapon. But 50 – and there were ten times that on the island – if they throw themselves on him, some will definitely be shot down, but only a few, and those who remain unwounded (let’s say 30 or 40) have the possibility of tearing him apart with their bare hands.”

Yes, he does say “let’s reason” at one point.

This is the prelude for Feltri’s conclusion, in which he says humans have lost the animal instinct of protecting the group. In his words, man “isn’t able to identify himself in others and sacrifice himself for others, probably because convinced that they would not sacrifice themselves for him.

I have a strong feeling Feltri is attempting to reverse his own personal evolution and maybe be the first Homo Sapiens to regress to Neanderthal status. The club is mightier than the pen, right?

"Homo Ridens: Semi-Serious Tribute to Darwin," by Marco Martellini

Unfortunately, Feltri’s club combined with his pen have caused considerable damage to various people in the past.

I personally hope he retires to his cave soon enough, where maybe he can attempt to learn to read again… maybe he’ll stumble across an article or two about people actually dying in an attempt to stop the psychopath killer with a loaded weapon.

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