I usually watch the evening news with one eye and half an ear, because there is only so much nonsense I can stomach. If the American media weren’t so determined to give the idiots, miscreants, and sociopaths their fifteen minutes of fame, I would be more inclined to pay attention. But what I see most evenings saddens, disgusts, and embarrasses me, so I’ve taken to tuning it out.
But last Friday evening, one story snagged my hopeful attention. At the top of the broadcast, with that half an ear I normally use, I heard Anne Curry (sitting in for Brian Williams) mention “ancient treasure,” “Boy Scout leaders,” and “caught on camera.“ I was eagerly anticipating an uplifting, feel-good story for a change…possibly some previously undiscovered wonder that would now be known to the masses because of selfless action by the Boy Scout leaders.
Ten minutes into the program, that naïve expectation was literally crushed by a giant boulder.
Maybe you saw it, too. In the haunting landscape of Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park, scout leader David Hall sings, “Wiggle it, just a little bit” and rolls tape (okay, he shoots a cell phone video) while his massive friend Glenn Taylor throws his bulk around and finally manages to topple a boulder from the pedestal it’s rested upon for the last 170 million years. Hall, Taylor, and Taylor’s teenage son, proud that they have “now modified Goblin Valley,” whoop, dance, laugh, and exchange high fives after their blatant act of vandalism. Then Hall, ignorant heedless of the Boy Scout principle “leave no trace,” uploads the video to Facebook, and the men are subsequently baffled by the public outrage that ensues.
They claim that they are heroes because their action has saved some little kid from imminent death. “It’s all about saving lives,” they smugly boast.
I call BS!! In fact, fighting back tears of utter fury, I screamed it repeatedly at the TV screen Friday night (only I used the unabridged version). BS! BS!! BEEEE ESSSSSS!!!
They destroyed the goblin simply to prove they could. Why else would they record it and post it on Facebook?
That boulder has stood there for 170 million years. ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY MILLION YEARS!!!!! What are the odds that it was going to just fall over and crush some unsuspecting kid now? The deputy director of Utah State Parks and Recreation said in his 22 years on the job, he’s never known a goblin to roll off its pedestal. Ever.
Look at the video. Look how many times Taylor had to hurl his sloppy several hundred pound self at that rock before it finally broke free. No “stiff wind” was going to blow that sucker off. I suspect small children could have safely passed by that rock for another million years before it posed any real danger. If and when it was ever identified as a safety hazard, the park service should have been the entity to deal with it—its employees are quite skilled at erecting barriers around things you want to touch but shouldn’t.
I would have been angry about the vandalism regardless of who caused it. It’s just another example of how our society has gotten off track, with individuals so focused on their own wants and desires that they completely ignore common decency and disregard previously sacred norms of acceptable behavior. But, right or wrong, I hold Boy Scout leaders to a higher moral standard than the average dude hiking through a state park. Back in the day, my brother was in Scouts, so I know that they teach (or used to teach) the value of natural areas, and how to properly respect, conserve, and protect such treasures. How did these yahoos miss such an important tenet of Boy Scouting?
I cannot even bear to imagine the havoc these guys and their troop would cause on an overnight camping trip, in some ordinary woods that were not part of a protected state park. “See all this dead brush? Those poor neighboring towns are just one lightning strike away from being toast. It’s all about saving lives; this brush has got to go. Let’s light it up, boys!”
With “heroes” like these, who needs villains?