When I was a student at USC, people would wear shirts around campus that said, “At USC we’re not snobs, we’re just better than you.” Annoying? Asbolutely. But it was a way of embracing and throwing critics’ “University of Spoiled Children” taunts back in their faces.

This is newly relevant, as a certain smug Easterner has deemed California a place that “does not count” as the true West:

“Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count).”

That is from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in the same-sex marriage cases.

Many have rightly seized on Scalia’s remark, as it’s the kind of A+ trolling he’s known for. But I think many of us are taking the bait in precisely the way Scalia intended.

Patt Morrison at the L.A. Times, in taking offense at Scalia’s quote, only proves him right:

California, which was briefly its own country, is not only the most populous state in the nation, it’s also the seventh- or eighth-largest economy in the world all on its own, and an idea engine for the whole planet.

Morrison is correct, just not in the way she thinks. It’s not that California is big and important and pioneering and therefore demands to be included. It’s that it’s so big and important and pioneering that it necessarily must be excluded.

We live the reality of being on the border, instead of just crowing about it as an abstract. We’re actually expanding people’s rights at the state level, not rescinding them. We win on everything that’s important in life — hip-hop, tacos and civil rights.

That’s a threat to some people who want to grumble about applesauce and hippies and cling to a certain narrow view of how things should be. Scalia would see everything we cherish as a knock against us, and that’s precisely why we should be embracing our otherness.

California’s not the same as the rest of the country, or the rest of the West. It’s better.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Debates over how the city should handle growth always seem to be the most provocative, the most intense and the most likely to divide allies ’round these parts.

This week we kept the debate alive with a few stories that examined how the city’s grown so far, and how it plans to grow in the future in a couple specific places.

Andy Keatts broke down a nationwide survey of how people view their communities, and found more of San Diego is considered suburban than urban.

Our intern Zoe Schaver examined plans along El Cajon Boulevard that will bring the construction of 800 new rental units – that’s almost double the number of units that went up in the last 10 years combined.

And then there’s Mission Valley, which, as we’ve explained, is poised for its own growthsplosion. That’s precisely what former City Councilwoman Donna Frye targets in an op-ed: “Instead of creating one more boring development project typical of Mission Valley, we could recognize the potential that now exists and do something really great for the public by creating a massive river park that everyone could enjoy.”

What Else VOSD Learned

 Kearny High School seems to have cracked the code to helping English-learners understand the language and flourish academically at the same time.

 The new director of the Balboa Park Conservancy has dealt with a remarkably similar spate of issues to the ones he’ll face in San Diego – but not everyone thinks he handled them well.

 A popular type of loan to finance solar panels can end up complicating the moving process for homeowners looking to sell.

 San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein reported more in behested payments than virtually all other state politicians combined. (Don’t worry, this article also covers important topics like “what the heck is a behested payment?”)

 San Diego has quite a few new kids (translation: adult leaders) on the block.

What I’m Reading

Race, Symbolism and Fellowship Post-Charleston

 Ta-Nehisi Coates on the meaning of the Confederate flag. (The Atlantic)

 Monica Potts on the devotion of the bible study group that was terrorized. (The Trace)

 Joel Anderson on the promise of Clementa Pinckney. (Buzzfeed)

Because We Could All Use Some TV After the Week We’ve Had

 Vulture’s TV Awards are fun, funny and thoughtful – if not a little too deferential to “The Americans.”

 This op-ed on why women should stop constantly apologizing is good on its own, but better because of the inclusion of this awesome sketch on the same subject from “Inside Amy Schumer.” (New York Times)

Learning on the Job

 “I left a pizza boy and came back a pizza man.” (Denver Post)

 Radley Balko interviews the Baltimore cop who’s been revealing lots of embarrassing information about the department. (Washington Post)

Line of the Week

“Last week proved anew just how convincingly California has become the place where politicians go to rich people’s homes to talk about the lives of less-fortunate people they rarely meet.” – An L.A. Times story on Obama and Clinton fundraisers in the Golden State.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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