On Wednesday, Deseret Morning News reporter Joe Bauman reported on a survey that catalogued the abuses by off-road vehicle users in Utah and other Western states. And the piece brought up an age-old rule of society: If you can't behave responsibly, your freedom needs to be limited.
It's the first rule laid down by parents in the home and the last rule that rings in the minds of convicted criminals. Robert Fulghum might even say it is one of the basics that kids pick up in kindergarten.
According to The Rangers for Responsible Recreation, 91 percent of rangers who responded to the survey think ORVs pose a "significant law enforcement problem." Some 53 percent said those problems are "out of control" and offered anecdotal information about ORV users in "near-riot conditions." Other reports entail citizens being run over by ATVs, women being sexually abused and other anti-social acts of what officials label "an entrenched renegade community."
Many ORV users are responsible, well-mannered souls, of course; but as is usually the case, an entire group must bear the brunt of its worst members. And the feeling is that penalties are too light to discourage louts from running amok in the outback. People are not often fazed by a $50 fine. But if agencies began to confiscate vehicles or by extension took away fishing and hunting privileges of scofflaws, it might help deter some of the more egregious behavior.
When a slap on the wrist isn't working, it's time to up the ante. And being "grounded" from riding, hunting and fishing is a good way to create an attitude adjustment and send a message.
It works at home.
It works at school.
And it works in the penal system.
There's no reason that a good, long "timeout" wouldn't go a long way toward reminding the "renegade community" that there are limits to what they can do even in the great outdoors.