Saturday's Statesman Journal featured stories about a couple of spectacularly dumb local people. It took me a while to decide who deserves the "dumb" award in this blog post, and who the "dumber," but I'm going with this:
Dumb -- whoever spray painted two marble sculptures in front of the state Capitol building during the first weekend of Black Lives Matter protests.
Dumber -- Marion County commissioner Sam Brentano, for being so irritated at Governor Brown's pausing of county reopening plans due to a spike in coronavirus cases in Oregon.
Sure, it can be argued that these dumb and dumber awards should be switched, and I could go along with that argument, because each of these individuals engaged in some spectacularly misinformed behavior.
Looking at the spray painter first, who so far hasn't been identified, I wish I could share an online link to this Statesman Journal story. But after two days it hasn't appeared on the newspaper's web site, for some baffling reason.
Anyway, here's a photo of the front page of the print edition.
This is how the story by Capi Lynn starts out.
A pair of massive marble sculptures stand sentinel in front of the Oregon State Capitol. Their heroic figures, carved deep into the history of our state, flank the majestic granite steps leading to the main entrance, acting as both guards and greeters.
But their vulnerability was exposed during the first weekend of protests.
Vandals defaced the 81-year-old sculptures by spray-painting profanity-laced messages on their stone surfaces. Their pedestals are made of granite.
A mason restoration company from Tigard has been working all week to remove the paint with little success, and the sculptures remain covered with tarps.
"It's not working very good because we didn't get on it soon enough," Joe Bryson of Pioneer Waterproofing Co. said Friday. "The longer it sits on there, the harder it is to get off. We keep trying, but I don't know if it will ever come off."
The vandalism occurred between 10 p.m. Saturday, May 30, and 12:30 a.m. Sunday, May 31, the first weekend crowds gathered at the Capitol protest [against] police brutality and the death of George Floyd.
l have no idea how anyone could think that spray-painting graffiti on the sculptures helps in any way to further the Black Lives Matter movement. Actually, it hurts the movement, by distracting attention from the many positive aspects of the protests to this senseless act of vandalism.
Hopefully the vandals will be identified and punished. The story ends with: "If you have information about the incident, contact Trooper Greg Williams at the Capitol Mall Area Command, 503-986-1122."
Now, as dumb as the spray-painting was, it didn't cause physical harm to any people, just the statues. So Commissioner Sam Brentano gets the dumber award because another front-page story, "Marion, Polk, wait for more reopening," shows how clueless Brentano is about the danger reopening too quickly poses to Oregonians.
Here's excerpts from the story by Claire Withycombe.
Bars and restaurants in Marion and Polk counties will still be closing by 10 p.m., and residents still can't go bowling or to a movie theater, for at least one more week due to a recent jump in cases of COVID-19.
Nearly all of Oregon's counties have been approved by the governor's office to "reopen" for some public activities after months of what was practically a lockdown to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Brown's office has laid out a plan that allows each county to apply to reopen in three phases.
Marion and Polk counties are currently in the first phase, which allows limited reopening of restaurants and bars and gatherings of up to 25 people. You can see what else you can do during the first phase on the governor's website.
But no county will be permitted to open up any further for another week at least, Brown announced Thursday. That means Marion and Polk counties' efforts to move into the second phase won't be approved for at least another week.
...On Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 178 new cases, the most in a single day since the pandemic started. On Friday, another 142 cases were announced.
...Local county commissioners expressed disappointment after Brown's decision.
"We're not going to be able to go like this forever," said Marion County Commissioner Sam Brentano, reached by phone Friday morning. "All government should be doing is alerting when there's a problem and then let people make their own choices to protect themselves."
Brentano said he was concerned by the uptick in cases in Marion County, which reported 29 new cases Friday.
"Right now is a dangerous time, and that part's right," Brentano said. "But I don't feel I want to continue leaving authority to make decisions to live or operate up to the state."
Spoken like the true science-denier that you are, Commissioner Brentano. He has been an outspoken opponent of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, since Brentano doesn't believe that humans are causing the global warming that is having increasingly disastrous consequences.
So it isn't surprising that just as Brentano wants people and corporations to be able to spew as many carbon emissions as they want, he also wants to allow individuals and businesses to be able to spread the coronavirus in any way they want.
Fortunately, Brentano isn't in charge of Oregon. Governor Kate Brown is. And she is relying on advice from our state's public health experts as she makes decisions about how to re-open Oregon safely, decisions that the Oregon Supreme Court recently has ruled are totally legal.
UPDATE: Just came across this apt passage in a Texas Monthly story that I read vis Apple News.
A version of “personal responsibility” that looks like “I’ll take responsibility for my risk, and you take responsibility for your risk,” though, neglects the reality of a pandemic. Responsibility may be personal—but risk is communal. Everyone can both get sick with the virus and pass it on to someone else.
A person who gets infected while packed into an overcrowded bar can pass the disease to a supermarket cashier who is otherwise steadfastly avoiding high-risk situations. A healthy young person whose sense of personal responsibility leaves him comfortable spending a leisurely evening in a bustling restaurant can infect a roommate who works in a nursing home.