Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oak abuse: Sean Hannity advocates spiking trees

I spend a lot of my time in my truck listening to the radio.  Depending on the time of day and my location, at any given moment I might be listening to sports talk, NPR, local San Joaquin Valley talk, Rush, Hannity or oldies (a.k.a. music I listened to as a kid).  The combination often causes intellectual whiplash.

In the last four presidential elections I have voted for candidates from three different political parties, all with equal conviction.  In my meanderings up and down the radio dial I come across smart liberals, dumb conservatives, dumb liberals and smart conservatives.  (In my world smart = pragmatic and dumb = mindless demagogue... and they come in all political stripes.)  There are two local right-leaning talk show guys in Bakersfield who are great - thoughtful, funny, and able to see other points of view.

Sean Hannity, on the other hand, is an idiot.

I was listening late last week as he proposed to provide a great service for the millions of out-of-work Americans who are disheartened by the weak economy and poor job market.  He actually said this:  If the average house in your area costs $400,000 (as if that's the median home value in most places), then the way to make money in a bad economy is to go out and buy a "fixer upper" that's a little run down for, say, $275,000.  Put another $25,000 and some elbow grease into it and you can quickly sell it for $350,000, turning a tidy profit.  Thank God for Hannity!  Because I am sure there are millions of Americans who are out of work trying to figure out what to do with that $50,000 they have sitting in the bank and the extra money that keeps coming in every month, and here comes Hannity with the answer:  Buy a house!  A $275,000 house!  Make a down payment, somehow get financing without an income, somehow make monthly payments, and somehow come up with the money for new cabinets, stainless steel appliances (yes, he said that) and other improvements.  As a bonus you could then employ all of your children who are also out of work, paying them a wage for helping with remodeling, thusly teaching them the value of hard work.  Jesus wept.

I must have been scarfing lunch on the fly and didn't have a spare hand, because for some reason I didn't immediately change the station.  Hannity segued from that stroke of economic wisdom to a brief - but mentally deranged - discussion of trees.  He decried the fact that he lives on a place where you can be fined $10,000 for cutting down a tree in your own yard.  (For the record I have mixed feelings about such ordinances, but I can definitely see why they exist - because it's because of guys like him.)  He went on to say that the way around these ordinances is to - oopsey! - prune the trees so heavily that they die or even to "spike" the trees.  And I quote, albeit loosely:  "Who's to know?  You can do that you know."

Triple moron!  Spiking trees is a horrific thing to do.  It's meant to injure/maim/kill anyone who cuts down or mills the tree.  It is terrorism.  It doesn't kill trees, but Hannity sure sounded like he thought it did, and was therefore a brilliant idea.  So the guy who hates the fact that he has to get permission to cut down trees on his own property is telling millions of (the most patriotic) Americans that the way to kill them without getting in trouble is to spike them.  Thus exposing tree care professionals in the future tasked with removing them to the possibility of grievous injury.  I wept. 

Thank God for intellectual stimulation of ESPN radio's 24 hour coverage of the latest sports scandal or my brain would literally melt out my ears while driving.


  1. Isn't it illegal in the US to incite criminal activity, especially publicly? Seems like somebody should be reporting this one - Hannity wants taking down a peg or two hundred, judging from footage that has made it over the the UK.

    Not sure I agree about tree spiking equating to terrorism. I happened to be reading a 'field guide' the other day and it sounds like the people who do this in order to resist corporate clearcuts generally put the nails in above head-height so the saw mill blades get damaged and not the chainsaw operators themselves. See here: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/Various_Authors__Ecodefense__A_Field_Guide_to_Monkeywrenching.html#toc7

    For sure doing this to an individual tree in an attempt to kill it without incurring a fine is a kind of terrorism.


  2. Ian - Thanks as always for reading! You are correct in that responsible (?) tree spikers place the spike high to spare the logger but reduce the value of the timber and slow down/damage equipment in the mill. I always put myself in the place of the mill worker or logger with a family at home and bills to pay. But you are absolutely right to differentiate acts intended to kill trees versus acts that are intended to protect them. As time passes I have become less supportive of monkey wrenching practices - let those who live in wood-free houses pound the first spike, so to speak - but I understand and sympathize with the deeply held convictions and sense of powerlessness from which they derive.
    And yes, Hannity is an idiot. He advocated a crime that wouldn't even have its intended effect of killing trees.