…or, how to insult a right-wing politician in the nerdiest, most niche way possible.

The Republican ban on the David in a Florida school brilliantly exposes why the GOP fears seemingly everything these days and is generally anti-anything intellectual or culturally significant.

To explain, I must provide context via my relationship with the piece. I didn’t like Michelangelo’s David growing up. It was so ubiquitous, even in the pre-internet days. You saw it everywhere, from miniaturized versions on Phyllis’s desk at work to pop-art-inspired posters, stickers, and magnets. We even had a few etchings of the piece in my childhood home, and to top it off, I was 50% named for it. I couldn’t escape it.

My first inclination that this piece was more than a cliché proto-meme came from my High School Art teacher, Mr. Tunson, who did a visual analysis with my class. I learned that the work contained symbols placed by Michelango to teach the largely illiterate Florentine population about the famous biblical figure. For example, his oversized feet and hands symbolized divinely derived stability and strength, and his enlarged eyes spoke to wisdom and foresight.

Fast forward to the college class, Renaissance Art in Florence. I learned the work was way more complex than a simple bible story. The David was essentially a political ad paid for by the Florentine Republic, presenting him as a Mascot for their small city-state. David was a young underdog sent into battle by God, who chose him to win and eventually rule. This is not far from what today’s Republican party often claims in ads, that they are an outsider and an underdog but chosen by God to run for office. The difference is Florence was completely justified in their choice of David to represent their town, as they were fighting off nearby rival city-states, barbarians, and the plague. Also, David defeated his enemy with intelligence rather than brute force so, you know, the opposite of what Republicans advertise. The other major difference here, and my thesis, is that the people of Florence heavily invested in culture, seeing any intellectual pursuit, especially art, as the ultimate achievement of civilization. All Republican politicians are contending with are beer cans, a book about a dorky teenage boy, and fabulously dressed men while also cutting humanities programs.

Lapith fighting a centaur. South Metope 27, Parthenon, ca. 447–433 BCE. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Lapith fighting a centaur with a strategically placed leg. South Metope 27, Parthenon, ca. 447–433 BCE. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

This brings us to this rant’s purpose and my spot-on title about Ron DeSanti’s penis size. Florida Republicans’ focus on this particular work is especially ironic, considering what the David ultimately symbolizes. The nudity they are so terrified of speaks precisely to why they are so terrified. And no, I’m not talking about how it awakens certain feelings in some repressed Republican politicians, nor how his penis may make Ron DeSantis jealous due to its perfect size and shape (I can only assume). Interestingly, this is the most frequent question from my brave but more juvenile students: Why is David’s junk so small?

Well, dear reader, a smaller penis represents Human Being’s greatest attribute, according to the ancients; reason. The Greeks showed this through carvings on the Metopes of the Parthenon which describe wars between humans and Centaurs. While that would make a cool scene from a Brad Pitt movie, these battles represented the fight between reason and irrationality. Humans were unique precisely because of our ability to reason, and animals (or animal-human hybrids) represented the irrational. And what do some animals have (especially horses)? Bigger peni. And Renaissance folks heavily copied the Ancients by similarly focusing their culture on rationality and reason. Consequently, the human nude became essential to that goal, the smaller peni illustrating the owner as more rational, intelligent, and evolved.

And it’s not just the sexual organ, nudity in Greek art was all about showing off the best and most beautiful creation of the Gods. And adding further irony, the devoutly Christian Renaissance seamlessly merged Greek Philosophy with Christian Dogma. Put simply, if we are created in God’s image, then depicting perfect humans is akin to understanding the divine. And the Reason espoused by Plato as the means to enlightenment nicely intersected with a Christian need to see the light via understanding Jesus.

So the fact that nudity is the justification for banning a work only exposes Republicans’ utter disdain for critical thinking and reason. They are afraid of a work symbolizing rationality, a uniquely human trait. One that, if you believe in God, is divinely granted, a topic they claim to have a monopoly on.

Get over yourself, Mr. DeSantis, and fellow Republicans. You only make yourself seem more ignorant by banning statues (and books). I grew up with nude etchings of David, and I am perfectly fine. And my two-year-old son will similarly be exposed to the world around him, including nudity in art. And I, as his parent, will properly contextualize it so that when he sees a nude statue in some future art class, he won’t giggle like some immature jackass taught by repressive parents to be terrified of their own body. You know, the reasonable thing to do.

And so, Ron, and any other Republican thinking of banning art, we return to your penis. I can only assume your penis is way bigger than the David’s, as only irrational actors could possibly want to ban work considered by many to represent one of the greatest human achievements. And if you’ve read this far, you should now understand my insult, you irrational, unthinking, horse-brained imbeciles.

Michelangelo's David, located in the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze (Florence, Italy), is a full nude REnaissance Sculpture of a young Biblical character. Photo by David Chatfield

Michelangelo’s David (and his reasonably sized penis), Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, Photo by David Chatfield

And finally, in order to combat the censorship of art, here’s the David in all of his naked glory, reasonably sized penis and all. You can even view the work in 3D here if you aren’t lucky enough to see the original.