Deleted Scenes: Bombing The Reef

“U.S. fighter jets dropped four bombs on the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s coast during a training exercise that went wrong, it has emerged. The two planes jettisoned four bombs—two inert and two unarmed—in more than 165 ft. of water, away from coral, to minimize damage to the World Heritage Site, the U.S. Navy said.”—BBC


This is probably my favorite news story in the last two years.

I’m not sure I can properly convey the beautiful absurdity I find in the image of U.S. bomber planes accidentally dumping their payload—unarmed, but still—on the Great Barrier Reef. It’s like Monty Python, only even more brilliant because it’s real and it just affirms to the rest of the world what utterly insane barbarians we Americans are. I love it. I love it. It’s perfect. If it was my birthday this week, I’d count this among my presents.

Imagine you’re that pilot. You realize what just happened and you have to get on your radio and, “Uh, this is Pilot Jim to Whoever’s In Charge. I, uh, just bombed the Great Barrier Reef. Over.”

“Pilot Jim, this is Whoever’s In Charge. Come back? Did you just say you bombed the Great Barrier Reef? Over.”

And then, having already said it once, you have to say it again. Approximately 22 seconds go by before you start to hope your name never gets made public so you don’t have to spend the rest of your life living down the fact that you were one of the guys who mistakenly dropped bombs on one of the world’s most crucial and already-threatened natural habitats.

You know what I think my favorite part of the whole thing is? Why the hell was the U.S. military doing exercises by the Great Barrier Reef anyway? What, are the Iranians going to bomb Israel using the Reef as a cover?

And even better than that? It takes that long before you get to the question of what we were doing there in the first place. Really, front to back, this one’s just gold.

It’s so easy to get down about the state of world affairs. From dopey music magazines cloying desperately at relevance by putting glam shots of even dopier bombing suspects on their cover, to tragedies of racially-biased justice, from Edward Snowden to the troubling news that they’re going to put a new Batman in the next Superman movie, if you want problematic bummers, they’re only ever a click away, at most.

But then something like this happens, and I feel like it was worth wading through all that terrible news just to get to this one piece of treasure.

It’s like, if there was a piece of candy, and it was the best piece of candy in the solar system. Some super-secret Martian chocolate made out of triumph. And the candy was on a meteor in the Perseid. There’s more or less no chance at all that piece of candy is going to come into your possession, but with this news story, I feel like that candy not only landed on a plate right in front of me, but that the chocolate didn’t even get melty coming into the atmosphere. It is pristine.

And people get all worried about it—like all of a sudden the rest of Planet Earth is going to be like, “Wait a second, the Americans are dicks!” as though they haven’t been calling us fascists for 40 years (at least mostly correctly). Not me, I don’t worry about a thing when it comes to this. Just delight. It is a purer enjoyment than I’ve felt in a long time, untinged by irony or snark or judgment. It is the real deal, as close as I’ll ever come to finding god.

We bombed the Great Barrier Reef.

We bombed the Great Barrier Reef!

Take that, coral jerks!

JJ Koczan