Using the term “dick move” as a synonym for “an act of obnoxious behavior” seems to me as insensitive as using the term “pussy” as a synonym for “coward.” or “blonde” as a synonym for “dumb,” but as a “woke,” “new-age” guy, I understand that I am responsible for genocide, slavery and misogyny, as well as their aftermath, and that considering the millions of people I’ve personally killed, raped and tortured through the eons, it seems a bit petty of me to complain about the mere verbal denigration of my genitals, so I won’t. Besides, I know that a lot of you really love “dick” and some of you aren’t getting enough of it because of the lockdown, so no offense taken. However, in the recent piece titled “Top 10 Dick Moves of 2020” the North Coast Journal continued its own maddening pattern of obnoxiousness. You could say it “triggered” me. In response, I offer my own “Top 10 Dick Moves” list of small, vile things the NCJ did in 2020 that pissed me off.
Let’s start with “dick move” number 10: Fear-Mongering, the NCJ continues to sensationalize this disease as a “killer virus” when the CDC’s own numbers tell us that, for the vast majority of us, Covid-19 is no more deadly than the flu. The NCJ has ramped up the fear so much that they can’t believe that the state would relax restrictions in the face of our current outbreak, but the graph in the article tells the whole story: While the number of positive tests continues to soar, almost no one dies of this disease except the very old and the very sick.
Even the state can’t deny it any longer, but the NCJ can, even though the picture does not lie. Suicides are up. Drug overdoses are up. Assaults, domestic violence and child abuse are all on the rise while poverty, homelessness, and unemployment have gone through the roof, but does the NCJ tell us those stories. No. Instead we get wall-to-wall, red-letter fear-mongering about the “killer virus.”
People dying in nursing homes is not front page news. People die in nursing homes all the time. The average life expectancy of a nursing home patient is about 11 months. There’s a place in a newspaper for people who die in nursing homes. It’s called “Obituaries.” The story about nursing home patients dying of a new form of viral pneumonia, rather than the more common, bacterial pneumonia, belongs in a medical journal, but there’s probably space for a synopsis in the “health and lifestyle” section. Turning an obituary into a cover story is distortion. Distortion: “dick move” number 9.
“Dick move” number 8: Hypocrisy. Remember how even handed the NCJ was when it came to the needle-exchange program. It didn’t matter that it has been scientifically proven that needle exchange programs save lives, and that all your best doctors strongly recommend these harm-reduction efforts. Any deranged alcoholic who staggered into a city council meeting to rant about “degenerate junkies” and complain about needle litter was described in the NCJ as a “community member” with “legitimate concerns” and quoted sympathetically. The NCJ didn’t run an editorial telling people to “Just pick up the damn needle and throw it away yourself, and while you are at it, why don’t you pick up the beer bottles and cigarette butts too.”
I would have thought that a courageous stand for a local paper, and I would have been proud of the NCJ for making it. Meanwhile, back in reality, I see no courage or even-handedness when it comes to Covid-19 coverage in the NCJ, just “dick move” number 7: Pushing Compliance Instead of Reporting the News. “Just wear the damn mask!” Unbelievable! We are not your children. Don’t condescend to us. If you don’t have the balls to cover a big story like this with some skepticism and objectivity, then don’t.
Really, please don’t bother covering this story because you aren’t helping matters any. Look, nobody expects you to be anything but a fluffy entertainment weekly, and you could do a lot of good as a fluffy entertainment weekly. Forget about news and use the column inches for lavish coverage of our local art scene. Art matters, especially at times like these, because art speaks to the heart, as well as the intellect, and it asks aesthetic questions, rather than logical ones. Art can change the way people see the world and every great movement of humanity, begins in an artistic expression, but art can only change the world if people experience it, which brings me to NCJ “dick move” number 6: Lame-ass Coverage of the Arts.
The NCJ discontinued Colin Yeo’s column “the Setlist,” the only column devoted to the local music scene, early in the pandemic. Musicians are among the hardest hit by the lockdown, and they need the attention of the press now more than ever, but in the NCJ, Theresa Frankovich, Ian Hoffman and Anthony Fauci are rock stars, so who needs noisy peasants or their arcane caterwauling.
The NCJ’s dismal coverage of the arts motivated me to write them a letter a couple of months ago after their annual “Best of” issue included eight categories for “Best Cannabis” but only one for “Best Artist,” which reminds me of NCJ “dick move” number 5: Pandering to Advertisers. I’m sure their “Best of” issue is not the only example of advertiser influence in editorial decisions and content. When you see all of those ads for cannabis dispensaries in the NCJ, you need to remember that Humboldt’s cannabis industry does not give money to anyone who doesn’t serve them.
The cannabis industry knows how to leverage the most out of their advertising dollar. They know that the more anxious people get about Covid-19, the more weed they smoke, and the less they worry about environmental destruction in the forest. Anti-drug propaganda used to tell us that marijuana causes laziness. I think there’s some truth in it so far as the NCJ is concerned. The steady flow of cannabis advertising dollars and the spectacle of Covid-19 allows the NCJ to print page after page of whatever is being spoon-fed to them by “official sources” without having to care about what’s going on in the rest of our local economy, let alone cover it.
That’s NCJ “dick move” number 4: Journalistic Laziness, and NCJ “dick move” number 3: Failure to Cover Impacts of the Lockdown on Our Local Community. It gladdened my heart to read that Siren’s Song had the courage to defy lockdown orders and host live entertainment. I think they could have had a lot of good reasons to do that, and I would have appreciated it if the NCJ would have helped us understand theirs, rather than denigrate them as they did in their own “dick moves” column.
Which brings us to “dick move” number 2: Dehumanize Anyone Who Disagrees With You. By dismissing a local business owner’s courageous attempt to save his business, the livelihoods of his employees, and the very foundation of democracy, as a “dick move,” and disparaging every side of the story except the official one as “conspiracy theories” the NCJ has forsaken any illusions they may hold about themselves (or that we may hold about them), as “Guardians of Democracy.” Instead, In this year of “dick moves” their crowning achievement of transforming a liberal entertainment weekly into a mouthpiece for authoritarian propaganda, practically overnight, tops my list as the NCJ’s number 1 “dick move” of 2020.
I am not afraid of Covid-19. Either I will catch it, or I won’t. If I catch it, I will either die, or I won’t. That’s life. I do fear, however, that that we will look back at this pandemic, the way Germans look back on the Reichstag fire of 1933. It was a bad thing, but the response to it unleashed something so much worse. At this critical juncture in history we need courageous hard-nosed journalists who aren’t afraid to challenge the voice of authority. I guess we won’t have any of that from the NCJ.
I don’t think anyone denies that we find ourselves in the midst of a great tragedy. The great tragedy of our time, however, will not just be the death toll from Covid-19. The great tragedy of our time will be that we abandoned our neighbors, our principles and our civil liberties, for an empty promise of security, because we are a nation of blonde pussies.