October 18, 2013

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Yes, it’s what it looks like: Boy Scout leaders toppling an ancient geologic formation, then announcing that it was All For The Children. That formation, called a “goblin,” has weathered 170 million years of the brutal attrition of time, give or take, all the while maintaining its uncanny upright posture and resemblance to a mushroom — only to be felled by these guys. I doubt this is what it expected.

It is good to know that there are people out destroying priceless artifacts to keep the children safe. (Have you noticed, by the way, that often, historically, when people embark on things that they will later realize are idiotic, they announce that they are doing it All For the Children — banning comic books, say, or being Rod Blagojevich.)

Now Utah authorities are pondering criminal charges. I don’t know that it merits jail time — our jails are crowded enough as it is — but I hope they have to spend some serious hours volunteering and helping out. Then again, given their definition of helping out, they would probably fill in the Grand Canyon (“A kid could fall in there!”), pick the noses off Mount Rushmore (“Child hanging on this thing could go tumbling quite a few stories!”), dam up the Niagara Falls (“Big drowning hazard!”) and stick a palette knife through the Mona Lisa, on the grounds that the eyes following you everywhere might give a child some serious nightmares. Yes, the Mona Lisa is not a 170 million year-old natural formation, but you get my drift.

This reminds me of a remark by G. K. Chesterton. “Remember, however, that to be breakable is not the same as to be perishable. Strike a glass, and it will not endure an instant; simply do not strike it, and it will endure a thousand years.” Or 170 million. But who’s counting?

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.