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A lot of internet dialogue this week was spent engaging in my absolute, all-time biggest pet peeve: pearl-clutching over swearing.

It was kicked off by a tweet from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, in which she said simply, “F*ck Elon Musk.” Those three words garnered thousands of words in follow-up stories, and airtime on CNN and beyond. What’s funny is that Gonzalez didn’t even actually say the thing that we’re all pretending was so offensive – the word fuck – she proactively censored herself.

When Scott Lewis pointed out that tip-toeing around swear words is silly, San Diego’s other pre-eminent Scott, Rep. Scott Peters, stepped in.

“Disagree. It offends many people, so it’s rude. It can turn people off, which can make the speaker less persuasive,” Peters wrote. “Plus it’s too common – should save it for special occasions.”

Now, saving swearing for special occasions so that the words land with maximum impact is a fine point, but it’s undermined by Peters’ first one – that you shouldn’t say precisely what you mean because it might offend people. Never mind that this is like suggesting steakhouses should reconsider serving steaks, lest they offend vegetarians. Serving steak is the whole point. What really struck me about Peters’ assessment is that he seems to have inadvertently diagnosed virtually the entirety of San Diego politics. Not saying or doing something because it has the potential to offend someone is the modus operandi of San Diego, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on.

Peters himself has acknowledged this before, when he argued in a 2016 op-ed that San Diego should approve a plan to build a joint convention center-stadium. At the heart of his argument was an acknowledgement that San Diego has failed, many times over, to get big things across the finish line, and that for once it should avoid “a colossal failure of imagination and civic and political leadership.”

Assemblyman Todd Gloria has dubbed the phenomenon the “San Diego special,” in which solvable problems fester because politicians’ wariness prevents anything from getting done.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has admitted that his reluctance to offend any one group of stakeholders prevented him from pursuing solutions to the homelessness crisis many times over – and now we’re all left to deal with the consequences of that persistent inaction.

This same trepidation is why no matter how many studies or data sets or videos are made public showing the San Diego Police Department’s consistent targeting of minority communities, no one has pursued any meaningful reforms.

The exception of course, is Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who has not only taken on gnarly, explosive issues but who has used colorful language to punctuate her points about those issues, which should be a lesson to all San Diego politicians that doing these things is possible.

Councilwoman Jen Campbell was caught on a hot mic recently talking about her decision to pursue changes to the coastal height limit, long a third rail in San Diego politics.

The fact that she didn’t know people could hear her was funny, sure. But one thing she said was downright rebellious: “I’m not chicken at all about it,” she said. “What have I got to lose, right?”

A San Diego pol willing to pursue a policy decision even if it might trigger some hurt feelings? I guess quarantine really has changed us.

What VOSD Learned This Week

The coronavirus has impacted everyone, but like with any disaster, it doesn’t impact everyone equally. Vulnerable populations and communities are being hit especially hard.

At one La Mesa nursing home, for example, more than half of the residents have had coronavirus and 12 have died. Health care providers that primarily serve the uninsured and low-income are being forced to make difficult cuts.

Beaches are back open, but the pandemic has put on hold plans to increase beach access to low-income communities. And parents in North County are demanding that schools give students letter grades, even if it severely disadvantages kids who don’t have access to a safe and reliable learning environment.

And Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to buy hotels to house the homeless in has hit a snag.


In the first month or so of the pandemic, “Where are the tests?” was a rallying cry. Now, the problem is, “Where are the people?”


It’s been 10 years since the Balboa Park Conservancy was created to fill a leadership void in Balboa Park, and it still hasn’t grown into that role. Now it will get a new CEO


What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“I asked myself, ‘What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend?’” This is a devastating op-ed from a Republican businessman about why, after several decades, he’s no longer supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Sara Libby

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

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