Sacred Ground Or Playground?

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 21 2013 @ 7:11pm

Lots of blood boiled when the above video went viral last week, showing Utah Boy Scout leaders destroying an iconic rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park:

Despite their assertions that they were concerned for the safety of others in the park after watching a family with small children pass below, the lighthearted attitude of the film paints a different picture for many as the men cheer and high-five. Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said Thursday he found the video disturbing and has asked that possible criminal charges be considered in the case. … A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America called the act by two leaders disappointing and reprehensible. “We teach our 2.6 million youth members and 1.1 million adult members … the principles of ‘leave no trace.’ These principles stress a commitment to maintaining the integrity and character of the outdoors and all living things,” according to a statement from the BSA.

Michael Byrne thinks the uproar reveals a split in American attitudes toward nature:

On the one hand are dudes like this, frequently found in the Utah desert piloting 4X4s around black-stained slickrock trails, and then there’s the crowd more into hiking and quietly being awed. You know, Coors versus Dales. Or whatever. I hate even acknowledging it, but every spot of public land in the U.S. will have some version of this user divide. It goes back to old definitions of “use” I suppose, exploitation vs. preservation. Ours vs. ours to protect. It’s not that easy, of course, and they bleed together probably as much as they separate, but it’s hard not to see a rift in values. It’s a rift that leads to things like this.