Can’t wrap my mind around vandalism

By Jeff Linville -

I’ve never understood mindless destruction of property.

I just don’t get it. Why damage or destroy someone else’s possessions in order to make yourself feel good?

When I was a kid, I had a couple of cousins who were curious about how things worked. They would take apart their toys to see what made them tick. But then they didn’t have that toy to play with anymore.

In high school we never had doors on the bathroom stalls because boys would tear the doors off the hinges or hide behind them in order to write swear words on the walls or put out cigarette butts on the toilet seat. Some kid might turn the water on and leave it running.

It just made no sense to me.

Sure, there is some enjoyment from watching things blow up. Mentos in a 2-liter Coke bottle, shotguns versus watermelons, shooting an AT4 antitank weapon at a junk vehicle (which was awesome by the way). Hey, that’s a big reason why a lot of young men join the military.

However, that is totally different from drawing genitalia in a bathroom at Target.

When there is a direct connection to the destruction, then at least I can grasp the concept. Some jerk cuts you off in traffic, so when you see him park his truck, you go over and key the paint job. I don’t condone such behavior, but I can understand it. Come on, who hasn’t wanted to take a ball bat to some jerk in a fit of road rage?

Slashing the tires of a total stranger who hasn’t wronged you? Why?

Now we’re reading news reports from Tennessee that the huge forest fire in Gatlinburg may have been started on purpose. More than 15,000 acres burned, people left homeless, at least three people dead because someone or someones set the blaze.

Then came all this hate on social media. I saw a post on Twitter Tuesday where a black man said Gatlinburg was just a town of white supremacists and Trump supporters and deserved to be destroyed.

B-list actor Michael Ian Black tweeted, “When Trump supporters voted to ‘burn it all down,’ I bet they didn’t think it would start with Tennessee.”

Another tweet by a Tobias Beecher stated, “Laughing at all the Trump supporters in #Gatlinburg as their homes burn to the ground tonight. Too bad it’s not the whole state burning.”

There are many, many more comments out there hating on Sevier County because it is rural, mostly white and mostly Republican. Sound like any place YOU live?

Now these are extreme instances, but there are still many Americans who get a thrill of enjoyment out of others’ suffering. A relative said she saw posts on Facebook from people who were jumping in their cars and driving to Tennessee to see the fire damage firsthand.

These are the same people who cause massive traffic jams after a fender bender because they have to stop and rubberneck the scene.

I’ve mentioned an old George Carlin routine in this column before, but it fits again today. He joked about he loved to see people in misery, and the closer to home it was, the better.

If the TV announcer says 6,000 people killed in an explosion, the excited viewer demands to know where, Carlin said.

“If he says it happened in your hometown, you’ll say: ‘Whoa, come on, Dave — let’s go look at the bodies! Let’s go look at the bodies! … Hey, at least I admit it. Most people won’t admit to those feelings. Most people see something like that on television, they’ll say: ‘Oh isn’t that awful? Isn’t that too bad?’”

For a couple of years in my youth, our family lived in the small community of White Pine, about 40 miles northeast of Gatlinburg — and right in the path of the jet stream blowing all that smoke from the flames. I bet my old neighbors have been smelling ash for days.

A few times a year my parents still go back there and see the old stomping grounds, visit Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Now much of that natural beauty has been burned down. Folks are scrambling to find somewhere to live.

And someone is smiling about all the destruction he caused.

By Jeff Linville

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

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