Like most legitimate Bama fans, I was sickened by yesterday’s news that some miscreant has poisoned the historic and magnificent Live Oaks that have stood for more than 130 years at the famed Toomer’s Corner in Auburn. At right is a photograph of Toomer’s Corner and one of those stately trees, circa 1856.
Regular readers of this blog know that I have pulled few punches in covering the Cam Newton recruiting scandal. There are dozens of snarky, sarcastic and biting blog posts posted here since that story broke two days after the November 2 midterm elections. What started out as a political blog with a little football and fun thrown in has morphed into a sports-related blog with a little politics and current affairs.
But regular readers also know that I don’t hate. I predicted Auburn would be contender for the 2010 SEC West title before it was fashionable to do so, and I also predicted that they’d beat the Oregon Ducks for the BCS Title. I’m a fan of Auburn’s rival, but for me it’s a rivalry heated with fun, mutual respect and sportsmanlike competition. It is not fueled by hatred.
I’ve always thought that the tradition of tossing toilet paper into the trees after and Auburn victory is one of the silliest such rites in college football. But college football is full of silly traditions and poking fun at your rivals is part of being a college football fan.
Pranks like spray-painting slogans, duct-taping statues and sowing seeds in the form of taunting messages are harmless pranks that make rivalries like the Iron Bowl fun. It’s playful banter exchanged between neighbors, friends, coworkers and family members.
The individual who poured lethal doses of a dangerous herbicide around the historic site is no prankster. He is a criminal and he should be brought to justice. What he did is akin to sneaking into your neighbor’s back yard and killing his family pet. That is the sense of loss being felt by Auburn students, fans and alumni. For the older alumni, who have lived for decades and soaked in the rich tradition of Auburn University, are likely feeling a greater sense of loss. Some may not live to see Toomer’s Corner ever return to its historic and stately beauty.
What strikes me most is the abject stupidity of the self-described Bama fan who committed this criminal act. Not only did he, in the dead of night, cowardly sneak into Toomer’s Corner and apply dangerous chemicals to the soil, the idiot was stupid enough to call into the Paul Finebaum Radio Show and, to a nationally syndicated audience, openly bragged about his crime.
What now? Will outrage beget outrage, such that criminal acts of vandalism explode into acts of violence? Let’s pray that it doesn’t.
The Student Government Associations of the two schools are reportedly working on a joint statement calling for an end to such madness as this, and I fully support that. The two SGA’s are also exploring the possibility of a joint fundraising effort that would help pay for the environmental remediation of the site and the purchase and planting of new, healthy trees.
As one Bama fan who was sickened by the news yesterday, I would gladly contribute and I would urge my readers to do the same thing. It’s called having class, and we need to display it.
UPDATE: Arrest made?