Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

“It’s Just a Rock”

Just a Rock (7175, 10-19-13)

I find it incredible that stupid people who do stupid things seem compelled to tell the rest of us – in the most public way possible – that they are, in fact, dumber than dumb.  It’s like they’re saying, “Without question I’m an idiot.  Clueless.  And this video I just posted proves it!”  Thank heaven for Facebook and Youtube, huh?  If you’re going to do something dumb, make sure one of your buddies records it so you can tell everybody else. That would include the local district attorney’s office (if the act is not only dumb but illegal).  This one, I think, meets that requirement.

Just in case you missed it, I’m talking about the guys – who just happen to be Boy Scout leaders – who toppled a hoodoo in Goblin Valley SP, Utah, because they decided it was some kind of safety hazard.  The one that they tipped over looks a lot like the ones in the above image (taken about a year ago).  These are Entrada Sandstone formations that have been standing there for millions of years.  Without, apparently, hurting or threatening anyone.  One bozo, however, decided that one of these structures was in imminent danger of falling on some kid and crushing him.  Just a gust of wind, he said, was all it would take.  So he leans on another formation to get some leverage and separates the “dangerous” rock from its base.  Really.  It’s all there on the video.  Then they laugh and celebrate and high five each other.  It was a “lifesaving act”, they said.  Would they do it again?  “Absolutely”.

Amazingly, some of the comments generated by the video were supportive (supportive of the offending idiots, that is).  To be fair, most came down on the other side.  Most condemned the act.  They realized that it was no different than spray-painting the Statue of Liberty or defacing the Lincoln Memorial.  This is protected stuff.  That’s why national and state parks are created.  Supposedly, the Boy Scouts have a rule that reflects that idea of “protection”.  They tell their members to “take only pictures” and to “leave only footprints”.  It’s the same rule that you find in almost any park’s information pamphlet.  It’s simple and it’s logical – leave things the way you found them.

There were those, however, who essentially said, “What’s the big deal?  It’s just a rock”.

Yes, and the Grand Canyon is just a big hole in the ground.

Heck, why not knock down all the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon?  You know, for safety reasons.  Sooner or later some of those will certainly break and fall.  And they’re a lot taller than these goblins.  If somebody happens to be underneath one when it does fall they could easily be hurt or killed.  And it wasn’t too long ago that a piece of Landscape Arch in Arches NP did fall.  No one was hurt, but that was just luck.  And why let people walk so close to all those hot geyser basins in Yellowstone?  Getting too close to those things can be fatal.  It’s happened.  Not to mention hiking up to Angel’s Landing in Zion NP.  Near the top, there’s nothing between you and the valley floor (2,000 feet below) but air.  Miss a step and you’re gone.  Again, it has happened.

So why did this clown think he was doing the world a favor by knocking over a big hunk of sandstone in Goblin Valley SP?  Who exactly was he protecting?

Nobody.  Unless you’re amazingly careless, it’s a pretty safe place.  The biggest danger is dehydration.  My gut feeling is that he wasn’t thinking about safety anyway.  He was thinking about showing off.  His son was there.  So he decides to show him how strong he is by pushing over a big rock.  Yep, a real role model.

But what the hell.  It’s just a rock.


4 Responses to ““It’s Just a Rock””

  1. Tom Dills

    One of the things that struck me during our recent trip to Nova Scotia was the general lack of signs and fences around places that might be considered “too dangerous” here. It was if they were saying, “hey, if y’all are stupid enough to get too close to the edge, you get what you get.”

    I did see the article and was very surprised. As the father of an Eagle Scout, no Scout leaders I’ve ever met would be that irresponsible. Can’t help but wonder what they had been drinking.

    • Paul Maxim

      That’s even true, I think, in the U. S., Tom. You can walk over any number of cliffs in places like the Grand Canyon or Canyonlands or Bryce or Zion. And I’ve walked beneath some precarious overhangs in Arches NP. There are very few signs or fences to stop you. You’re safety and welfare depend on you.

      If what I saw on the web yesterday is true, I’m even more surprised. The article I read said that the outing was a church (Mormon) sponsored outing. Not an unlikely possibility in Utah! Anyway, Mormons are usually very responsible individuals. What they did just doesn’t make any sense.

  2. Cedric Canard

    That has to be one of the strangest stories. What makes it strange is the fact that they were Eagle Scouts; you’d think they would be more environmentally aware and understand that the beauty they destroyed is worth more than any potential risk of the structure falling on someone.

    • Paul Maxim

      “Strange” is definitely the word, Cedric. As I said to Tom, I don’t know how you make any sense out of it. Watching the video makes me sick. It’s a complete disconnect. How can scout leaders be that callous about protected property? How can they not know what they’re doing?


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