On a sunny Saturday morning, Brett Nelson and his hiking companion Lyle Sweeney decided to take a spontaneous hiking trip to Tumalo falls. As they were approaching the railings of the waterfalls, the two hikers happened upon a man and his two teenage children etching their names in the railings.
Oregonians are proud of their public parks and in the face of what seemed to be clear defacing of public property, Nelson asked the three to stop carving their names into the railings.
When the teenagers’ father refused to do so, Sweeney decided to take a photograph of the “vandals” and post it online for the world to see. The three hikers seemed pleased as they even posed for the picture Sweeney was taking.
“Proud Dad and kids pose as they carve names in hand rail at Tumalo falls,” the caption wrote.
Sweeney’s Facebook post immediately went viral, gathering over 57,000 shares since being posted on Saturday.
Comments also didn’t fail to appear and while the majority of the Facebook users that shared and commented the event were outraged, some criticized Nelson’s and Sweeney’s approach.
Although such examples of misconduct shouldn’t be overlooked, users wrote, there should be no excuse for cyberbullying. Other users suggested that what Sweeney’s post resembled was slander, harassment and mob mentality.
The criticism firestorm continued when several Facebook users even began posting frightening comments. Excerpts reading “Start carrying a big Louisville walking stick” or “Let him have it” were only some of the thoughts shared by users in a Facebook post that soon turned violent.
Hateful, aggressive language began appearing in what began to resemble a sophomoric name calling battle where the accused family hadn’t even been deemed guilty of the crime they were being accused of.
In fact, a relevant question was whether photographs also existed showcasing the actual defacing of public property. Regrettably, Mr. Sweeney did not include a picture of the railing itself or the carving he invoked. Luckily for our fair country, you are considered innocent until proven guilty and public humiliation and persecution for an evidence-less crime shouldn’t be condoned.
Vandalism is a serious offence and according to Deschutes National Forest spokespeople, investigations are often hindered by a lack of evidence. In this case, the picture of the alleged vandals is useful.
“For as spoiled as his experience felt in the moment, it certainly has catalyzed a movement of people who really value public lands,” Kassidy Kern, Deschutes National Forest spokeswoman said about Nelson.
Image Source: imgur.com