It’s starting to seem increasingly likely that, if the world ever comes to its much-prophecized end, it’ll be because of an idiot with a smartphone, bumping into something important while trying to get just the right angle on the perfect “JUST ME, FEELIN’ CUTE IN A NUCLEAR LAUNCH FACILITY” selfie. Case in point: A new international kerfuffle with China, launched by a photo-seeker whose run of bad judgment managed to extend even further than his desire for the ultimate self-referential pic with an antique artifact.
This is per BBC News, which reports on the case of Philadelphia’s Michael Rohana. Attending an Ugly Sweater Party at the Franklin Institute a few months ago (as one does, apparently), Rohana snuck away from the party into an exhibit of statues from China’s famed Terracotta Army—the legion of ancient ceramic soldiers first discovered by farmers back in the 1970s. Then—following the natural human desire to first document, and then destroy, anything beautiful we come into contact with—he proceeded to first snap a selfie with the soldiers, and then snap off one of their thumbs.
Unsurprisingly, this thoughtless desecration of an archaeological wonder did not sit well with the Chinese government, who insisted the culprit be tracked down. But those who live with the selfie also die with the selfie, and so Rohana was eventually discovered by the FBI, and the thumb recovered. He was apparently keeping it in his desk drawer as a sort of vandalism souvenir.
China’s government-run Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre has condemned the Franklin Institute for its “carelessness” in allowing the statue to be damaged, and is calling for the U.S. to “severely punish the perpetrator.” An expert is being sent over to attempt to repair the damaged statue; hopefully they’ll take some nice snaps of the process so we can reblog them on our Insta.