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A name for willful destruction
Sep 09, 2011
“‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
“‘To talk of many things:
“‘Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
“Of cabbages — and kings —’”
— Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter
“And what to call a person
“Who does disgraceful things.”
— Kathleen Teillet
The WREN is free. We may help ourselves to as many copies as we wish. As well, we may read as little or as much of it as we choose to read.
Because of this, there’s no reason for anyone to wilfully mutilate any copy of this newspaper and then replace it for someone else to unknowingly take home.
But such a vandal habituates Grant Park Mall.
A few weeks ago, when I opened my paper, I was surprised to see that neither the crossword puzzle nor my column were there. I decided that editor, Bruce Cherney, had run out of space and couldn’t print the usual selection of material.
Then, for some reason, I checked another copy. Lo and behold! There were both the puzzle and Twisty Tongue. 
Unable to understand why copy number one had come up short, I returned to the truncated WREN and was dismayed to find that someone had so skilfully removed two pages that it took careful scrutiny even to see the cut — as if an exacto knife had been used.
The following week, I examined my WREN at Safeway’s door where I pick it up. Again, I found a mutilated copy, this time torn out, not cut, but still almost unnoticeable.
Who would do such a despicable thing? And why?
The vandal responsible could easily have removed the desired pages, then disposed of the rest in the nearby waste receptacle. Instead, this person preferred to sneakily replace the effaced WREN for some unsuspecting reader to take home.
There has to be a word to describe such inconsiderate behaviour, but I’m at a loss to find one. The Thesaurus suggests severaladjectives — mean, shabby, disgraceful, shameful, deplorable, discourteous, rude, distressing.
Although these all fit, they seem too weak to really describe someone who deliberately destroys something, then equally deliberately, makes sure some unwary person is affected.
This is contemptible, even vicious, behaviour. As well, this vandal is not only contemptible, he/she is also sneaky. It cannot be easy to remove pages in a public place and then to stealthily slide the ruined publication back among the unmutilated copies. It would be even more difficult, I imagine, to catch this creep in the act.
But, since this mutilator obviously reads Twisty Tongue, this column is the obvious place to issue a public scolding.
A vandal is one who wilfully or maliciously destroys public or private property. Originally, Vandals were a Germanic tribe that overran Spain, Gaul and North Africa. They sacked Rome in AD 455. The Latin Vandalus (wanderer) is the source. 
Synonyms for vandal include destroyer, wrecker, demolisher, mutilator, and eradicator. However, none of these speak to character and it seems to me that this particular vandal is lacking in both class and respect.