The two men who destroyed an ancient rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park probably don’t belong in jail. But a 7th District Court missed a rare opportunity to make their punishment fit the crime when it failed to include a few hundred hours of community service in their sentence.
Glenn Tuck Taylor and David Benjamin Hall were acting as Boy Scout leaders when they laughed and did a silly dance after Taylor pushed over a rock hoodoo that was formed over thousands of years. The two posted their mindless act of vandalism and the hilarity on YouTube. That was their undoing.
If they expected people who saw the video to applaud their thoughtless bravado, they were wrong. In a 21st century version of being held in a public square stockade while passers-by ridiculed and spat at them, the two men were bombarded with criticism, called names and even had their lives threatened.
It seems there are many Utahns and others around the world who hold natural treasures in higher esteem than do this feckless pair.
That excoriation reasonably can be considered part of the consequence of their crime. But in sentencing the two to one year’s probation, about $1,600 each in court costs and an as-yet-undetermined fine, Judge Douglas Thomas failed to give the two now-former Scout leaders a chance to make up for what they did.
Taylor and Hall asked to be sentenced to community service so they could do something to help right their wrongs in the place where they committed the crime.
A few hundred hours of hard manual labor in state and national parks, leveling trails, repairing camp facilities, cleaning restrooms — maybe even explaining to visitors the importance of protecting the natural formations they came to see — would be a more appropriate sentence.
Investigators and state park officials had a hard time coming up with a monetary figure for the damage done in order to set restitution. That’s because such natural wonders are priceless. Taylor and Hall say they now better understand the inestimable value of such outdoor treasures.
If they do, it seems logical that the court would let them pass on what they have learned to others who feel as they did: that rock formations, streams, deserts and mountains exist only for their entertainment and have no intrinsic value worth protecting.
Doing such community service should have been a requirement of their sentence. Since it is not, perhaps Taylor and Hall will feel moved to tell their story anyway. It could benefit other visitors and the special places they come to Utah to see.
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