Summertime brings warm weather, back porch sessions with lemonade, festivals aplenty -- and, this year, debate over the punishment meted out to the youth who vandalized the beloved old brontosaurus statue at the Museum of Life & Science near Northgate Park.
I took the seemingly-unpopular view here a few weeks back that revealing the names of the perps wasn't necessary if the Museum felt it was getting whatever sort of restitution was most appropriate -- restitution that, at the time, was known only to include volunteer time for the cash- and manpower-strapped museum.
It's a position others have taken, too, but one which has run into a good question on local listservs and in comments here. The Museum is a partially taxpayer-supported entity, and community donations are being raised to repair the bronto -- why shield those who committed the act if Durham citizens are picking up the tab for the fixes?
Today's N&O has a brief update from Mark Schultz, one that sets out what seems to be a reasonable bifurcation of responsibility for the repair costs:
In an interview Tuesday, [museum VP Julie] Rigby said the museum has received financial restitution to repair the head and neck and the vandals will perform community service.
Additionally, the museum hopes to raise $4,000 to restore the statue, including holes in the mouth that may have been there before the dinosaur's head and neck were cut off in late May.
Chalk this one up as something that makes sense to me.
The bronto statue was a "dinosaur" in more ways than one -- the forty-plus year old fixture had fallen into disrepair well before its marie-antoinetting, and its future had been unknown since it was damaged by a hurricane in the 1990s.
Having the juveniles who (literally) defaced the statue pay for the damage they caused is fair. Looking to the community to help restore the rest of the statue -- a fixture that has more value to local residents and the community, perhaps, than the Museum, which won't be including the old bronto on its new dinosaur trail opening next month -- also seems reasonable.
In a somewhat surprising turn, Rigby notes another reason for keeping the names of the perps out of sight, claiming fears over their safety and noting that "people have made threats," something that seems almost too bizarre to contemplate.
(And if true: look, folks, antisocial behavior shouldn't beget more antisocial behavior, 'kay?)
One neighborhood wag noted on a local listserv that the bronto's beheading might have been the best thing that could have happened to restore the statue to its old glory.
Increasingly, it looks like that's been the case.