Mad River Union
ARCATA, APRIL 1 – One of the Plaza’s most venerable fixtures, next to Sunflower, is the Temperance League Fountain on the square’s west side.
The 1912-vintage fountain is also one of the town’s most divisive landmarks, with advocates for removal doing rhetorical battle with fountain loyalists online and in public meetings.
“Get that thing off our Peace Plaza!” howled Polly Patchouli, a downtown reform activist. “It forces the public to bend over to drink, bowing down to the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District and their liquid oppression. Who made them God?” She called it the “fuhrer fountain.”
The anti-fountain forces found favor up the hill, where Humboldt State University Chemistry Professor Egbert Z. D. Poindexter objected to the fountain on public safety grounds.
“Dihydrogen monoxide is one of the most potent solvents there is, and kills thousands every year,” he said. “Why would eco-conscious Arcata tolerate a fountain that spews this chemical right on its town square?”
The fountain has its defenders, though. Molly Mendacia remembered the fountain’s original purpose, and warned of consequences if it’s removed.
“Remember why the Temperance League installed it,” she said. “If there’s no water fountain, thirsty people will charge over to the bars and start chugging highballs. A parched throat is demon alcohol’s plaything.”
Activist Fhyre Phoenix got wind of the controversy, and joined in the “Flush the Fountain” movement. Sunday afternoon, he was positioned next to the fixture, trying to educate the public of the dangers of water.
“Enjoy a sip of slaughter sauce,” one side of his sign read. The other side bore just a symbol – that of the DHMO Awareness organization.
As with virtually everything else these days, the issue triggered bitter debates on social media.
Advocates on both sides found the character and morals of those with the opposing view severely lacking and worthy of expatriation.
“You meddling minnies are always trying to wreck the Plaza – leave it alone, or leave!” grumped Arcata old-timer Gorn Glumber in a Facebook post. “Get a life!”
“Plug your geyser of patriarchal poison and get out of town, and take that fascist fountain with you,” flamed Zelda Zealotrine. “Get a life!”
The City Council’s creative solution was to assign staff to come up with a table listing the relative moral weight of pejorative terms commonly used in online arguments such as idiot, imbecile, libturd, fascist, snowflake and douchecanoe. Once that is determined, highest-scoring insulters will then be deputized to finally decide the matter.