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Philosophical question: Does committing a dick move — a petty, selfish chipping away of the social contract that one could have absolutely skipped and been fine — make one a dick forever? Are we our worst dick moves? I think not. Mostly. But if dicks are as dicks do, then 2021 was a real sausage fest in Humboldt, as evidenced by this catalog of shitheel-ery. Do better. Shouldn't be that tough.

10. Random window smashers. I absolutely get why people break glass in cases of emergency, like stealing to survive, to feed an addiction or because an adorable pet has been left in a hot car. (Test me on that last one.) But the hurling of objects through the windows of mom-and-pop shops just for kicks during a pandemic that's left many of them barely hanging on is strictly for dumbasses and dicks. It's left too many people with plywood storefronts, repair costs and, at best, weeks of insurance red tape. I hope the next rock bounces back in your dicky direction.

9. Pop-up anti-maskers. Mask-holes made the list last year for their general dangerous foolishness. But this year, it's the special bunch that showed up en masse at Eureka Natural Foods in October to bare their poorly informed faces in protest like an agro flash mob that was too lazy to learn the "Thriller" dance. In a response, ENF rightly referred to the group tantrum as "harassment" and "abuse" neither customers nor staff should have had to endure. It's worth noting that, as usual, this synchronized idiocy went down at a food service business — an industry whose workers have borne the brunt of the entitled rage of pandemic putzes — not at, say, a bank with guards. It's not bravery, it's dickery.

8. Anti-vax public comment hogs. When I flip to Access Humboldt or Zoom in to watch a local government or school board meeting, I am engaging in democracy. I'm witnessing the work of my elected officials and, hopefully, some dude with a guitar who came to complain about his neighbor's dog in song. What I didn't come for is 40 minutes of batshit YouTube audio and debunked theories from Facebook memes. We need to make some serious decisions about public health and instead of doing the required reading, you're mainlining conspiracy theories, so please put your hand down. Not only does it turn public comment into a megaphone for dangerous misinformation, but being chained to this hamster wheel of crazy is actually making me miss Lady Who Hates Homeless People and Chemtrail Dude. OK, not Chemtrail Dude. (*Rubs temples.) So, so dicky.

7. Sword thief/thieves. COVID-19 has been brutal on local theaters and robbed us of a source of expression, community, catharsis and solace in a time when we need it most. And yet, in October, some loathsome toad(s) still broke into North Coast Repertory Theatre and stole the prop swords from its production of Hamlet. Some were hand-forged and on loan from friends of the theater. To pick from Shakespeare's dramas: Thou art a boil, a plague sore. You froward and unable worm. You bolting-hutch of beastliness. Rooting hog. Puke stocking. Would thou were clean enough to spit upon. Thou rag. Eater of broken meats. You bull's pizzle. Thou dick. (OK, the last one was mine.)

6. Ring thief/thieves. Remember when Eureka's sister city Nelson in New Zealand gifted it with one of only 100 giant replicas of the ring from the Lord of the Rings movie? Well, keeping it secret and keeping it safe didn't work out, as scoundrels boosted our One True Ring from city hall in a November burglary. (According to the Eureka Police Department, there's nothing to suggest fellowship with the aforementioned sword theft.) Were they drawn by its terrible power, called to this dark act as the ring, working hard to return to its master, whispered to them from its hiding spot? Or were they just being dicks? Either way, here's hoping they, like Gollum, are possessed and tormented by its magic until somebody finally drops a dime on them to the police or the Nazgul.

5. St. Mark's Lutheran Church. In June, the sign outside the Ferndale church read, "Hurt by LGBTQ Culture? Healing Here." Healing? Looks like Pastor Tyrel Bramwell misspelled bigotry. That dicktastic statement brought down a hail of rainbows as the LGBTQ+ community and its allies organized an answering Pride march through the Victorian Village and in front of the church. Supportive signs and chants drowned out the toxic little message and reminded good people to love their neighbors as themselves and not to do unto others like dicks.

4. Homophobic tree killer. It reads like a horrible Mad Lib but here we are. Also in June (Pride Month, people, come on), some tool destroyed the little rainbow flags in the community garden at 18th and H streets in Arcata. Folks there responded with a small but colorful protest against the hateful bullshit, waving flags and signs, and festooning a tree with rainbow ornaments. A tree some absolute dick cut down the next day. (Sidebar: Were they mad because they thought the decorated tree was ... gay? If so, Christmas must have been very stressful.) That tree was just chilling, absorbing carbon dioxide, giving us summer leafiness. Hacking it down was a cowardly threat by someone who could have simply minded their own heterosexual business. This bag of dicks runneth over.

3. People who showed up to defend an actual Nazi collaborator. In June, the California Department of Parks and Recreation announced the removal of a plaque dedicating a forest and elk refuge to Madison Grant, a founder of the Save the Redwoods League who promoted "racist, anti-Asian, eugenicist and anti-miscegenation laws." Grant wrote a book on eugenics so heinous it drew fan mail from Adolf Hitler and won him a gig brainstorming Nazi guidelines for removing "racially Jewish" Germans from the population with Holocaust war criminal Hermann Göring. New signage includes the context his plaque-mounting pals hoped to obscure. And yet, there they were in the comments: concerned devil's advocates, panicking over "cancel culture." But what about the trees he saved? I don't see a plaque for Native communities that managed not to reduce the forests to stumps for millennia. But if we tear down all the monuments to disgusting racists who contributed to attempted genocide ... Um, we won't have monuments to disgusting racists who contributed to genocide? A slippery slope, indeed — one that's paved with dicks.

2. Media outlets putting people in crisis on blast. Just because a mugshot is released by local law enforcement doesn't mean you have to publish it. Those images have their purposes, like documenting crime and arrests, warning residents about potentially dangerous individuals and proving how sparse my eyebrows are without makeup. But when it comes to someone who's clearly experiencing a mental health crisis, maybe blasting their name and photo all over the internet forever isn't helpful. Not just to them or their attempts to regain control over their lives, but in terms of stigmatizing mental illness. It's not doing much to inform the public and I have yet to see a readership survey that finds people are hankering for this brand of tragedy porn. It's a choice. Unless decades of working in news media have worn you down to a soulless, burnt coffee-scented husk, you should feel in your gut what a dick move it is the second it goes live. And you can stop anytime.

1. Texting scandal enablers. Thing is, most of the horrendous texts that have embroiled the Eureka Police Department in the scandal that broke in the Sacramento Bee in March are far worse than dick moves. The messages sent by members of Sgt. Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez's unit — misogynist, mocking the homeless and mentally ill, joking about shooting a military veteran in crisis — are a betrayal of the officers' sworn duties and the public's trust. They are proof they aren't fit to serve or protect people for whom they clearly have no respect and in whom they see no humanity. But while someone finally leaked those text messages, others let them go and said nothing as their coworkers patrolled the streets armed and unfit. And when the texts were leaked, some brushed them off as "locker room talk" or people just "letting off steam." Inaction and dismissal are dick moves, too. And to enable "a few bad apples," it takes a whole bushel of dicks.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.

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About The Author

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal. She won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2020 Best Food Writing Award and the 2019 California News Publisher's Association award for Best Writing.

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