Mason County News
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High and Mighty Stupid
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 • Posted June 18, 2008

As I’ve said many times before, the world is full of idiots. Which is a good thing, for me. If it weren’t for the knotheads, fruitcakes, and whack jobs, writing this column would be a lot harder than it already is. Which is not to say I don’t need a raise.

A recent MSNBC article is a good example. This French fellow named Alain Robert climbed to the top of the 52-story New York Times building in New York. No ropes, no nets, just right up the side of the building.

Now, you may be wondering why someone would do such a thing. There has to be a reason. No one risks his life in a stunt like that unless he thinks it’s going to accomplish something. In Alain’s case, his purpose was to protest global warming. Really.

Which makes absolutely no sense at all. Even if you are seriously concerned with global warming, you have to admit that climbing a building does about as much good for the cause as a dose of castor oil does for a broken leg. Less, probably.

During the American Civil War (1861 – present) doctors did such silly things. A school of thought during that time held that, when someone was shot, the thing to do was find the gun that fired the bullet, and put a bandage on the gun. And, actually, that worked about as well as having the current doctors treat the patients, since sanitation was regarded as unnecessary. The ‘Treat the Gun’ theory at least kept doctors from infecting their patients, and often they recovered fully.

But we have gotten off the point, which is that it doesn’t help cool the world to climb the Times building. A water tower, sure, that might help, but not the New York Times building. If anything, Alain’s sweat and exertion probably contributed to the planet’s heat. Which is generally the way these things work. Activists, with the best of intentions, usually do more harm than good.

The interesting thing about Alain is that he has been climbing stuff for a long time, in his effort to make political statements. A few months before the New York incident, he climbed a 42-story building in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He claims to have climbed over 70 skyscrapers, and every time he pulls this stunt, he gets arrested. Someone should mention to him that the only statement he’s making is: Look at me, I’m an idiot.

And to top it off, he’s a disabled idiot, according to his website. He claims to suffer from vertigo, and to be 60% disabled, because of previous accidents. I guess it’s just our bad luck that he’s never managed to climb quite high enough before he fell.

But I blame the French, here. If they weren’t so busy eating truffles and avoiding fights and practicing turning their noses up they could keep their citizens from running around all over the world, irritating the rest of us. It’s bad for business, pansies going around showing how stupid they are.

On his way up the Times building, Alain flew a banner that said, “Global warming kills more people than a 9/11 every week.” Which is not true, of course, but you can’t expect facts from someone who, by his own admission, doesn’t know which way is up.

A Brooklyn fellow decided to demonstrate Alain’s frivolity by mocking him. Renaldo Clarke climbed the New York Times building after Alain, and claimed he did it to promote awareness of malaria.

Unfortunately, Renaldo was arrested when he got to the top of the building, just like Alain was. So I guess it’s true that no good deed goes unpunished.

In a classic example of shutting the barn door after the horse is gone, NYC police were placed around the Times building after the two space cadets had already climbed it. Officials were evidently pretty ticked off about the whole deal. The Times issued a statement that said the climbers “jeopardized their safety and the safety of others.” Which is even dumber than Alain thinking he can affect global warming by being stupid.

No one in the Times building would have been hurt if one of the guys had fallen. And anyone hurt outside if, say, Alain or Renaldo fell on them, would have had to have been even dumber than they were, because hundreds of people were standing around watching them climb. So if someone had wandered under there, and then ignored the crowd’s screams of excitement if one of the guys fell, he would have deserved to be mashed flat as a pancake by a hurtling idiot.

But a statement had to be made, to keep all the other idiots from deciding to climb public buildings, too. Because they’re out there, all over the place. If you happen to run into one, my advice is: try not to get any on you . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who never climbed anything to make a statement. Well, not often. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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