They defiled our flag and our fauna.
They stuck toothpick ensigns, perhaps plucked from a sophisticated, polar bear-endorsed Australia Day cocktail, in the paw and up the nose of a dead wombat.
By the time the image hit our community's social media page and stirred that special outrage reserved for when species other than humans are debased, a fox had already done its own fair share of defilement, adroitly disembowelling the roadkill victim via her Achilles heel pouch, adding an extra layer of brutality to the sad little scene.
The timing of the post seemed particularly unfortunate because it came amid so much good marsupial news.
In recent weeks, we've learned how science is helping solve the riddle of why wombats do cube-shaped poos and how Tasmanian devils are making a comeback on the mainland (pity that thylacine joey across the strait turned out to be a boring old pademelon - whatever that is - but two out of three ain't bad).
Overall, though, positivity. Something to be proud of.
Then, more disturbing images.
This time, CCTV stills of two masked characters breaking into a nearby pub, slinking around in that creepy night-vision way, like Clarice Starling groping through Buffalo Bill's basement.
Another breach of sacred trust, more outrage.
Then, there's the run-of-the-mill stuff; the burn-outs, the male genitalia doodled on roads, the signs mowed down on Friday nights.
Surely not locals? Surely not one of us? (Sometimes outrage comes with qualification).
It's rare to ever learn exactly who the perpetrators of such quintessentially Australian crimes are, but we certainly know what they are: young, male and unpleasant.
Hoons, hoods, yobs, louts ... labels for an abject subculture for which we don't seem to have an answer, or, more problematically, even a question.
We just seem to accept them as part of the lore of the land. We just learn to live with IBS (Irritating Bogan Syndrome).
Pull up behind these types at the lights and there's a good chance you'll be assaulted and I'm not talking about road rage, although you may cop a bit of that, too.
Surely (now it's my turn for italicised outrage), my kids shouldn't have to read a bumper sticker leering from the four-wheel-drive in front linking visiting the Northern Territory with an offensive term for female genitalia? (At least no diagrams, this time).
Perhaps that's asking too much? Perhaps we should be aiming lower and be satisfied if we can first eliminate those bumper stickers which tell us to simply "F*** off"?
When did all this begin anyway? When did the larrikinism of Henry Lawson's The Loaded Dog morph into the toxic masculinity of Tim Winton's The Shepherd's Hut?
The other day, a new arrival mentioned one of the great things about our village was how we're "forced" to live among different types, whereas, in the monoculture enclaves of city and suburbia, people tend run in packs; think the same, even look the same ("clones with their pointy shoes and skinny ties", one insider, commenting on a different, yet eerily related issue, said this week).
My fellow villager was spot on.
The societal joy of living in the country is indeed about finding a pig shooter (who may be an academic) and an academic (who may be a pig shooter) sharing a laugh in the fire shed.
But just because you like to eradicate introduced pests, there's no rule that dictates you lack the moral fundamentals which make you know it's wrong to fiddle with the corpse of a dim native creature.
Young males off the rails are by no means confined to the bush. Bouts of stupidity and bad behaviour happen all over the country, all over the planet, but what's going on across the regions seems to run deeper than blokes letting off a little steam. It feels as though we're in the realm of dynastic disruption beginning with boys being taught to be bullies at home, to default to aggression and be satisfied with a life of simmering, powder keg mediocrity.
And, to be fair, it's not all their fault.
As we drift away from the lazy tropes and mythical touchstones of a (white) national identity forged somewhere in the vicinity of the black stump; as we (rightly and at long last) empower girls to do whatever they want, there's a sense of disenfranchisement for some young men left at the farm gate with no idea how to fill those grandfather-shaped voids.
David Foster, whose novel, The Glade Within the Grove, won the 1997 Miles Franklin Award, explores this spiritual vacuum of Australian masculinity, even investigating the concept by way of communal castration (yet more genitals, apologies).
A tad extreme, to be sure, but Foster, who grew up in the regions and settled to be a postman over in Bundanoon, knows as well as any observer, some blokes are no longer existentially sustained by the land because everything from globalisation to automation to desertification are shaking up traditional roles and responsibilities.
Not that any of this is an excuse for thinking it's clever to slap the world's worst word on the back of your ute. Those who do so are beyond help.
I'm more concerned about my own kids, and their kids.
It would be great to know the bush they'll inhabit (unless they marry up or win Lotto, so they can afford a Shangri-La city life) will continue to be diverse, full of robust, complex personalities and not some Mad Max wasteland of boredom and bigotry.
One social side-effect of the pandemic has been the work-at-home influence on regional house prices.
According to the Real Estate Institute of NSW, property values rose 7 per cent across the state's regional centres in 2020, about double those recorded in Sydney.
Media coverage of this supercharged tree-changing phenomenon is often complemented with warnings for city slickers a shift to the country may not be all antiquing and pademelons and they should expect to embrace a very different life to the one they're abandoning.
Such stories tend to remind me of how, in 2015, after a festival funding spat, arts doyen Leo Schofield famously quit Tasmania to beat a retreat back to Potts Point, saying he was done with all the "dregs, bogans and third-generation morons".
He copped it, obviously, and eventually apologised, but just imagine the outrage from a certain flag-toting set if that were a bumper sticker?
- B. R. Doherty is a regular columnist.