Request presented to the Municipality of Milan

Request against Cesare Lombroso Subject:
Request to remove the commemoration of the name of doctor Cesare Lombroso given to a street in Zone 4 of Milan.

Lord Mayor (Signor Sindaco) and Town Councillors (On. Assessori),
the Political Party "per il Sud", represented by its President and its political management, would like to request from you, Mayor, Vice Mayor and Councillores, the removal of Cesare Lombroso as the name of said street, in zone 4 of Milan. This request is based on the following compelling reasons shared by today's scientific community.

The figure and work of Cesare Lombroso, a highly controversial character, and his established scientific worthlessness, still represents a great vulnus for Italian Medical and Scientific Education, as well as `the entire population of a large area of the nation which is our South. To justify our request, we will clarify the above mentioned demonstrating that this honour is not sufficient to maintain the assignment of the street name, Via Cesare Lombroso.

Born in 1835 in Verona, Italy, to a rich family, Cesare Lombroso entered the medical university of Pavia where he graduated in 1858, and became an academic teacher at the same university. Drawning from the theories of English naturalist Francis Galton about natural born criminality and biological conditions, Lombroso argues that typical reasons for committing a crime don't depend on the socioeconomic environmental components but rather on hereditary factors and/or nervous conditions therefore independent from your own will.

His beliefs were based mainly on the thesis that "the born or atavistic uncultured offender" individual presents degenerative features in his physical build that differentiates him from a normal socially accepted man. In the pursuit of fame and in favour of his suspicious and antiscientific thesis, doctor Lombroso didnt hesitate to skin corpses, cut off and dissect heads, perform the most incredible and cruel operations on men who were believed criminals in order to measure parts of their skulls and bodies, outlining unbelievable theories about the physical features of the natural born criminal. His work was strongly influenced by physiognomy, developing a pseudo science that dealt with forensic and psychosomatic phrenology inducing him to speculate like a wizard apprentice more than a scientist in a context based on eugenics and on some forms of "scientific racism" whose consequences would be visible in the following decades. In fact these conjectures were adopted as the foundation of the theories of German doctors about the pureness of the Aryan race, extending Lomrosos false theory to the physical features of the Hebrew and the Rom and so on, justifying their extermination.

The idea of criminality connected to physical characteristic of a person is present in "Iliade" by Homer and in the medieval laws that state, when there are two suspects of a crime, the one most deformed must be considered guilty. Therefore, Lombroso became convinced that the physicality is the most powerful cause of criminality and, in his analysis, he considered the anatomical configuration of the skull very important. He found an element in the skull that he believed to be a degenerative character frequently occurring in the alienated and the offender. But in reality, from an anatomic point of view, it is a frequent characteristic in individuals and it doesn't have a scientific meaning.

Badly influenced by Darwin's theories, Lombroso came to support "the born offender's" atavistic characteristics, similar to those of animals and the primitive man: these characteristics make it difficult or even impossible to adapt to the modern society and push one again and again to commit offenses. Cesare Lombroso also delineates the legal consequences of his doctrine because "crime is not the result of free choice but rather of an organic disease". The sentence must not be understood as a punishment (because 'it makes no sense to punish those who did not act freely) but simply as a means of protecting society. He always strongly supported the need for the death penalty under the Italian legal system, believing that if the crime was because of his physical characteristics then any form of rehabilitation was not possible...

These bizarre theories were contested also by his pupils (one of all was Enrico Ferri - lecturer of criminal law in Bologna, Siena, Pisa and Rome), and nowadays nobody thinks these still have scientific value. The absurdity of Cesare Lombroso's theories was been ascertained for a long time by now and represent a valid reason to rethink the assignment of the street name, Via Cesare Lombroso, and it diminishes the Italian scientific academic tradition. This is not enough, another reason exists that sustain our motion.

The figure and work of Cesare Lombroso still represent a great vulnus for all Italians from south, who one strongly offended by his activities. An offence that still now has consequence for majority of Italian people.

After receiving his bachelor in Medicine at the University of Pavia in 1858, in 1859 Cesar Lombroso enlisted himself `in the Piemontese Military, into which he was invited in 1861, to Calabria as a "medical adviser" in the campaign of repression of Highway robbery (brigantaggio).

In the southern regions, having an abundant fleet of humans at his disposition, the doctor began a deep and uncontrolled criminology study on Calabrias population hostile to the Piemontese invasion, looking for an improbable delinquent relationship between language - uses - ways of dressing and the physical characteristics of the residents. His theories took form and were applied without concern on poor peasants whose only guilt was having the measures of the skull similar to that of famous offenders of that period. Those were conjectures that, unfortunately, found fertile land in historical context and a military atmosphere very particular: for the army's leaders it appeared really providential to have found false scientific excuses to justify the bloody repression put into effect against populations unarmed and forced to defend themselves from an invasion with devastating effects.

In this way distortions were introduced to create a negative image of the South: Lombroso, far from being a rigorous scientist, as appeared later, was recruited to prove, on the false and absurd basis, that the southern people were offenders at birth. The doctor from Verona measures the size and shape of the skull of many rebels that were killed or deported from Southern Italy to Piemonte (caring military doctors sent him, for years, the body or at least the skull of "briganti" - who men and women killed in battle or died in jail - so that he could measure, dissect, study and then try to prove the theory of "the natural offender"), concluding that these atavistic traits related back to the "primitive man". In reality, it was one of the most brutal physical and psychological violence, deliberately put in place against the southern people, an event entirely unworthy of the alleged craftsman of the Italian Risorgimento, and indelible damage to all of humanity as a result of Lombroso's hatred towards the people of the South of Italy. The Political Party "per il Sud", represented by the President and National Management, believe that the collective and individual reputation's harm to the entire southern population, treacherously affected by unfounded theories and speculations exclusively in order to give a negative image of our South, represents further reason to remove the commemoration of the name of doctor Cesare Lombroso given to a street in Milan.

Milan, 04/13/2010

With regards,
Partito "per il SUD" Dott. Ing. Domenico Iannantuoni (President)

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