Across America, damaging storms destroy property. Who gets the blame? (Guess again.)

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Six people were injured in Dallas last week when huge chunks of ice fell off the roof. In New London, Connecticut, an apartment building had a partial collapse due to accumulated snow. In Port Huron, Michigan, the roof of an athletic club caved in due to snow. And in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Restore Hope Ministry Food Bank had a partial roof collapse yesterday.

Who is to blame?

According to a letter-writer in the Salem Statesman-Journal, Governor John Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes are to blame for these damaging winter storms nationwide.

No, seriously:

News that the governor has been living what I consider an adulterous life hurts, because voters hoped for a person who would lead Oregon to higher ethics.

History has long proved that nations with low ethics soon collapse, and is showing in our country.

Either the governor and his girlfriend get honorably married or people must recall him from office. Already people are noticing how nature is showing signs of distress by damaging storms.

I'm not sure what's got me more concerned -- that John Spenner of Stayton wrote such a bizarre letter, or that the Statesman-Journal decided it was worthy of printing!

(Hat tip to Wayne Kinney.)

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    It is worth printing so that the rest of us know that there are John Spenners out there.

    Of course the logic gets a little dicey since Kitzhaber lives in Oregon and the disaster is in the East. Spenner's logical allies blamed Katrina on the depravity on Bourbon Street, but they never explained why Bible belt Mississippi got walloped.

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    Yes, I have to say I read the "adulterous" line in my news feed and thought, gee that seems to be a libelous claim.

    Any actual lawyers here who can parse the responsibility of a paper for printing the false statement of another? I assume you couldn't sue a publication for a libelous or slanderous quote they've included in the news story. LTE's probably not different. What about anonymous commenters on a website (to pick up another recent BO discussion)?

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      I'm not a lawyer. But I am a blogger and I worry about such things.

      Back in 2006, a federal court ruled that bloggers are not responsible for libelous statements made by commenters.

      You should read the story, as posted at my other (defunct) blog, Politics & Technology -- it's not every day that a federal judge calls a defendant an "a--hole" and then rules in favor of that defendant.

      Here's a quote from, describing the ruling:

      Bloggers cannot be hit with libel suits on the basis of anonymous postings on their Web sites because federal law grants them immunity by explicitly stating that they cannot be treated as the "publisher" of such comments, a federal judge has ruled. ...

      I have no idea how that applies to letters published by newspapers. I imagine it's substantially different, since newspapers are affirmatively choosing which letters to print, while blog comments are open to everyone.

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        Newspapers can be held legally liable for anything they print, including letters and even ads. (I know this from about 40 years in the business.)

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      He says it's what he considers to be an adulterous life, and frankly, I think that sex without marriage is the technical definition.

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        Actually, Jonathon, adultery isn't sex without marriage, it's sex with marriage, but not with the person you're married to.

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    Tom DeLay's felony was responsible for the BP oil blowout.

    Dick Cheney's scowl was responsible for the Indian Ocean tsunami.

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    I receive the Statesman-Journal and I can only say this is further proof they will print anything, I mean anything, in their opinion section. This is the kind of thinking the fundies come up with, a kind of collective punishment for the private personal life of a public figure. (And it would also seem that some of these yokels don't know the meaning of adultery.)

    It's the same kind of thinking that Gerry Falwell of the Moral Majority, and Pat Robertson of Christian Coalition fame came up with, that 9/11 was the fault of all the homosexuals and other various kinds of sinners in New York City. In other words, if the deity in the sky gets pissed because the governor of one state in the US is engaging in intimate relations without the benefit of marriage then we are all going to be punished for it in this country with monster storms, even if we are God's chosen already (as specified under the rules of "American exceptionalism". As a practicing Christian I can only say that is a psychotically bizarre and totally errant form of paranoid theology.

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    Perhaps they thought it was funny? (I did.)

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    ...of course. Because the God of love and Father of us all shows His displeasure at one man by dumping tons of foul weather on parts of the country where they don't even live.

    But when lightning hits a very specific and gaudy statue of Jesus, which burns down doing no damage to anything else, not even the building it is attached to, that is a random act of nature.

    Go figure.

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    This fellow is merely expressing the commonly held belief among fundamentalists that there is a casual relationship between the degree of depravity and sin within a society and the intensity of natural disasters. In their belief system, these events are God's punishment for what they see as a culture and nation straying from the pure and narrow edicts of God's word. End of story.

    No reason can reach them. No moral or intellectual argument can pierce their beliefs. I remember a neighbor who had a sticker on his car: "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it" -- and he wasn't kidding.

    To them, it doesn't matter where the sin exists; all humanity is responsible and God punishes it accordingly and justly.

    On some level I suppose they deserve pity.

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    Jeesh -- "causal" relationship, not "casual."

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    More faith-based lunacy.

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    Wouldn't fundamentalists wonder, at least a little, why so much weather disaster happens in the "bible belt?!?"

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    Joe Spenner is an aging dyspeptic who has been writing drivel like that even since I've been in Oregon and that's 45 years now! The Statesman-Journal publishes it because they can.

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    This would be funny except for the fact that this person presumably can vote, and probably does.

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