My initial impression was that this trend is another canary dying in the mine (yes, I know THAT isn’t a canary!), as being and acting stupid and unethical becomes increasingly culturally acceptable. My theory holds that the public sees so many rich, powerful, successful public figures exhibiting these traits, and yearns to adopt their habits and values
The most recent example is the episode represented by the photo above. Well-meaning but ignorant tourists in Yellowstone National Park, where no human is supposed to get within 25 yards of the wildlife, decided to “rescue” a bison calf they found away from its herd, so they stuffed the animal into their car. They drove it to a ranger station, where they were cited for violation of park rules.
In effect, they had killed the calf. When the young bison was returned to the herd, the mother rejected it, and the beast began approaching humans, seeking food and company.
The park had to euthanize it.
Said the park officials in a statement,
“In recent weeks, visitors in the park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous and illegal behavior with wildlife. These actions endanger people and have now resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf.”
Morons. The Park Service should release their names, or give some Yellowstone wolves their scent. This is not a new taboo; there is no excuse for any visitor to a National Park to think this is responsible conduct.
Not fatal but equally infuriating is the tale behind this photo:
“Vanessa” is Vanessa Hudgens, former Disney ‘tween TV star most recently seen handling the role of Rizzo not too badly in the recent live broadcast of “Grease.” Hudgens carved the heart bearing the names “Vanessa” and “Austin” into a red rock wall during a trip to the state park in Sedona, Arizona. Then, to make sure nobody misunderstood that she saw nothing wrong with defacing an amazing natural phenomenon that is part of my land, your land, and made for you and me because as far as she was concerned it is only Vanessa Hudgens’ land, since she is, you know, special. This narcissist then posted the damning photo on her Instagram page around Valentine’s Day. Some mean viewers blew the whistle, and the actress was alerted that she had committed a federal offense. Incredibly, she was allowed to escape with a puny $1000 mandatory donation to a charity.
Wait, maybe the culprit isn’t the Donald Trump virus. Maybe it is the Obama Administration’s war on accountability. Professor Turley, anavid hiker who knows and loves the area vandalized by Hudgens, wrote…
“[D]amaging a natural feature is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. So a celebrity defaces a park and self-incriminates herself with a self-obsessed posting. The government could have made a statement by insisting on a short jail stint. I have long argued that we need to increase those penalties to the level of a serious felony — as would we destroying or defacing a great piece of art in a museum. There is a long-standing theory that deterrence is a balance of the size of the penalty and the rate of detection. As detection rates fell, penalties are increased to maintain the level of deterrence. Since these are often remote areas, detection is very low. We also need to create units that can target areas of graffiti with special cameras and surveillance to catch and then guarantee prosecution of such individuals. This should include a campaign to enlist hikers to take pictures of people defacing natural areas and sending those pictures to rangers. The Park Service needs to place advertisements on these efforts in leading hiking magazines.
The irony is that the laughable penalty for Hudgens has achieved the very opposite result: confirming that this crime is not only rarely detected but lightly punished. It is the perfect combination to ensure more criminal conduct by juveniles like Hudgens who see a beautiful natural setting and want to carve their names into it.”
This also eliminates, at least in this case, my Trump/Kim Kardashian virus theory. Americans have probably been defacing our natural treasures for centuries, but until recently social media didn’t present an opportunity to be really stupid and publish evidence of the results.
Turley’s suggested solutions seem reasonable and necessary too. Here, also from Turley, is a recent case where another hiker’s video resulted in the apprehension of some more destructive jackasses.