Over a Beer: Are Trail Booby Traps Terrorism or Just a Hate Crime?


Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

As I wrote my fourth article about trail booby trapping this summer—four instances of booby trapping in four distinct locations, mind you, and only the ones that I’ve personally written about—I found myself wondering, “at what point would I want to physically injure another human being?”

Catch up here:

Now I’m sure plenty of people would say, “Physically hurting another person is never acceptable!” and I’m not necessarily saying that it would be. Rather, I’m wondering, at what point would I feel like hurting someone else?

I came up with a very short list. I might feel like injuring another human if that other person did one of these things to a member of my family, someone I know, or myself:

    • Murder
    • Rape
    • Physical Assault
    • Theft of a very valuable or emotionally-important object (and this one, maybe or maybe not)

But the thing about this list is, in all of these instances, my retribution would be against a specific person for a specific action.

So my next question was, “at what point would I want to physically harm or kill a person at random, even if I could target a specific group of people?”

And guys, I’m coming up with nothing.

So what is going through these peoples’ heads?

Trail booby trapping isn’t a one-off occurrence and it isn’t isolated to one specific area—it happens all around the world, and has been taking place for years. So what exactly is going through the heads of the people who lay these traps?

Honestly, as I searched my own soul, I realized that I personally have no way to relate to this level of hatred. So instead, I need to look outside of myself.

The possible result of many of these booby traps is serious physical injury or even death (metal spikes and neck-high fishing line). As such, we shouldn’t even grace these people with the dignity of assuming that they are normal, emotionally-stable human beings.

No, these people are performing acts of terrorism. The people who are setting these traps targeting one specific user group are performing actual, real, textbook-definition hate crimes.

Don’t believe me? Let’s dig out the dictionary:

terrorism: “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.”

hate crime: “a crime, usually violent, motivated by prejudice or intolerance…”

So when I wonder, “How much hatred do you have to harbor in your heart to want to physically injure or kill a mountain biker, just because they’re riding a bicycle?” the answer is: the same amount of hatred that it takes to conduct a mass shooting at a school.

The same amount of hatred that leads someone to plant a bomb near a marathon finish line.

The same amount of hatred required to attack a train full of people with an axe.

The same amount of hatred needed to willfully ram a crowd of people with a car.

The same amount of hatred that inspires a lynch mob.

The same amount of hatred that leads to all of the horrific headlines that we read on a daily basis.

But is trail booby trapping treated as terrorism by the press and the authorities? No, no it’s not. Instead of being treated like terrorists, the perpetrators are treated more like vandals whose actions might unintentionally have gotten someone hurt.

Unintentionally my ass!

Take, as evidence, the woman who was indicted in a years-long trail vandalism debacle in Vancouver. She received three years probation, some community service, and a slap on the wrist. (Source)

When caught, we need to treat these people differently.

Instead of treating them like harmless vandals, we need to treat the people who lay dangerous trail booby traps in accordance with their true nature: terrorists. They need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They need to be locked away where they can’t harm anyone else.

Because we’re not talking about a mere disagreement over who should be allowed to use a specific trail, here. We’re talking about a level of hatred and mental derangement that is the absolute antithesis of civilized society.

Some people simply should not be allowed to continue as members of our global society. And trail terrorists are among them.