Toppling goblins was bad enough, but posting video of the extermination was worse

You tend to run into stupid people wherever you go—people who drive the opposite direction of the arrows in a parking lot, people who don’t realize the coffee in McDonald’s is hot, and people who think being gay is a choice.

However, there seems to be a new subset of stupid, and these folks believe they have a better idea of how nature should look than anyone else. The sad thing is that the guys I’m about to elaborate on are in positions of authority.

The scene of the tragedy is in Goblin Valley, a beautiful park in Utah. The park has some of the most beautiful rock formations you will ever see. Large rocks resting on sandstone pedals form what is referred to as hoodoos.

I never got the chance to see Goblin Valley when I was living near Lake Powell, but I got to see other parks with hoodoos. To be so close to nature’s masterpieces is a touching experience, and I wish that everyone could see some of the sights I’ve seen. One such place is called Toadstool Valley, where the hoodoos look like the kind of giant mushrooms you’d see in “Alice in Wonderland.”

Here is one of the rock formations from Toadstool Valley in southern Utah.
Here is one of the rock formations from Toadstool Valley in southern Utah.

A few weeks ago, two men waltzed into Goblin Valley and one videotaped the other tipping over one of the hoodoos, to which they cheered their testosterone-fueled macho act. That was idiotic enough, but then they decided to magnify their perceived brilliance by posting their video on YouTube.

The two men, David Hall and Glenn Taylor, have reportedly received more than 100 death threats for their moment of stupidity. Here’s what Hall had to say in the Salt Lake Tribune about the nasty-grams he’s been receiving:

“I’ve got over 100 death threats on the Internet already. I’ve got people all over the world telling me they are going to kill me because I made the decision that lives are more important than this rock staying here a few more hours.”

That’s right. This guy thinks he is saving lives. He told the Tribune reporter that he and Taylor talked about the matter for 15 minutes and decided toppling the boulder was necessary because the park was filled with people, and they were afraid if it fell at random, it might hurt or kill someone.

He and Taylor apparently believe they’re saving lives, one rock at a time. Oh, yeah. These two are freakin’ superheroes saving the world from inanimate goblins.

In real life, they’re Boy Scout leaders. At least they were. Their act of machismo got them canned, because one of the tenets of being a good scout is to leave no traces.

Here’s my big question: How did these two Mensa rejects become Scout leaders when they obviously have no respect for nature? What did they do when they took the boys camping? On second thought, I don’t want to know.

I’m not the only one penning about the stupidity. Carlo Rotella wrote about the goblin topplers in The Boston Globe, and here’s an excerpt of what he said:

“There’s one more emblematic aspect of this story. Had Taylor turned to the camera and said, ‘Look, I just gave in to an idiotic impulse; I’m sorry,’ we could cut him a little slack. Had he claimed that his judgment was impaired by obsessive rereading of Matthew 24:2 (‘There shall not be left here one stone upon another’), he would at least get points for creativity. But no. In the video, after he topples the stone, he and Hall start talking in a woodenly unpersuasive approximation of legalese about having saved imaginary children from being crushed in the future by this precariously balanced rock. So far, they’ve stuck to this feeble story.”

It’s true. It’s a feeble story by two people whose actions have forever altered a park with their actions. They could have taken the legal road and reported any perceived danger to authorities. Instead, they appointed themselves the park’s guardians and took action that was, in fact, a crime, the same as carving your name onto a stone or introducing an invasive species into a forest or lake. They thought they were heroes, but they looked like children—or drunk college students.

As for the death threats against these guys, I don’t approve. Killing them would undoubtedly save other parks from their wrath, but I believe these morons should live and endure their public humiliation. Whenever they go out in public, people can point at them and say, “There are the fools who thought they knew better.”

Another minor tragedy, aside from Goblin Valley never being the same, is that law enforcement has not taken action to punish these guys. What they did was blatant vandalism, and the video they posted is the smoking gun. More than three weeks have passed, and yet the worst these two yahoos have endured is losing their ability to mold young male minds. That’s not justice.

Parks are sacred places. You should take only pictures and leave only footprints. Anyone who vandalizes natural sites should be punished, and anyone who posts their stupid acts for all to see should be punished swiftly.

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