Colson: From education blight to sabotaged trails
Hit and Run
I guess mountain-biking season is ending just in time to avoid all-out warfare on the trails of the Central Colorado Rockies.
At least that is one conclusion to be drawn from the news that someone apparently hoped to unseat or unhinge a biker or a hiker in Eagle County recently by placing a 2-by-4 — with nails sticking out of one side and a length of barbed wire across a well-used hiking, biking and equestrian trail on federal land.
The little pieces of angry retribution represented by this act of sabotage were found by a hiker, not a biker, so the only result was described as an “eerie” feeling on the part of the hiker as he descended the trail and headed for home.
If a biker has happened along at just the right angle and speed, the outcome might have been much worse.
And I believe that was the intent of the saboteur.
The story about this act of sabotage mentioned similar happenings at unrevealed locations on the Front Range, but added that it never had happened before in Eagle County.
The story also mentioned that, in addition to the nailed board and barbed wire found on the one trail, there have been reports of other acts of similar sabotage on other trails in Eagle County.
So, the madness is spreading, one might say.
Well, I don’t know about it never having happened in Eagle County before, but I am here to remind everyone that it has happened here in the Roaring Fork Valley in 2014 at the area known loosely as the Crown below Dinkel Lake and the massif of Mount Sopris.
It’s been a couple of years, sure, but I clearly recall being outraged when I read about the nailed board hidden beneath a loose covering of dirt and pine needles in the middle of the trail.
Actually, there were two of them in the 2014 incident, as well, which convinced the mountain biker who found the deadly little devices that it was not a matter of some clumsy constructor of a trail amenity who lost track of his wood.
No, he concluded, and I agree, it was an out-and-out attempt to do serious damage to a bike and its rider.
As far as I know, the perpetrator of the “booby traps,” or perpetrators if there were more than one involved, remain unknown.
And that is about par for the course for cowardly, anti-social types who disagree with the laws of the land, and the acquiescence of some landowners in the area, that allow mountain bikers to use the trails along Prince Creek Road.
In any event, it was believed at the time in a news story about the sabotage that it was found on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
And in the more recent case in Eagle involving a discovery of the booby traps Oct. 16, the story mentioned that such acts on federal land are considered criminal acts susceptible to federal charges and “hefty fines.”
And one might also find reason to conclude that it is part and parcel of the same madness that has been driving the lack of civility, the threats of violence and other outlandish behavior evident in the ongoing 2016 presidential race and other political contests besides.
It appears that too many people in this country have decided that civil discourse and debate is a waste of time, and have given themselves permission to express their anger at the world in unsavory, apocalyptic and violent terms.
Unfortunately, the different sides of the political divide in this country have lost the capacity to talk to one another about their differences and work to come up with solutions that do not involve hyper-tense verbal confrontation at best, or bloodshed at worst.
Of course, not all interactions necessarily follow this pattern, and there are some people around who can converse politely and differ collegially.
But the norm, at least if you judge by posts on the World Wide Web of Intrigue and Insults, trends decidedly toward the bombastic and the hurtful.
And these acts of sabotage on trails is another manifestation of this general trend toward incivility, rancor and outright rage, projected by people who apparently are too insecure in their own nastiness to contain it within themselves and feel the need to spew it all over anyone nearby.
Which is, to put it mildly, really too bad, because it absolutely spoils the experience at hand, whether that experience happens to be walking or riding (bikes or horses) through a remote wilderness or trying to pay attention at a political event in order to learn more and think more clearly about political choices.
In my opinion, all this is due to a lack of good education, the kind of education that inspires independent and critical thinking among the very young and allows kids to grow up as compassionate, curious and socially aware.
And that lack, furthermore, is a consequence of decades of anti-humanistic and anti-intellectual agitation, mainly by the Republican Party, which determined long ago that if it is ever to gain complete political hegemony in these 50 United States, it will have to first make sure the populace has been dumbed down to the point on insensitivity, generalized ignorance and ignobility.
And to judge by the current political, social and economic climate, the plan to infantalize our country and make it more malleable for the anti-liberal agenda has been working pretty well.
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