Dear California, I Am A Heartless Bitch

Illustration for article titled Dear California, I Am A Heartless Bitch

Dear folks, I have spent a lot of time in San Diego and am pretty familiar not only with its economic and ethnic and political diversity, but with many of its residents, to whom I must now apologize for saying something so insensitive at a time of such urgency and horror. Look, I hate tragedy and destruction too. When I wrote that I didn't feel bad about the fires engulfing "the Hills" right now I was trying to make a point about how the presence of Heidi and Spencer and Britney and the Terminator and assorted other tabliverse regulars had inured me to the tragedy in much the way the presence of impoverished black people inured a lot of people to the tragedy of Katrina. In part, I blame watching The O'Reilly Factor last night.

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You should have seen it; he had a body language expert analyze whether Ellen Degeneres was "faking" her on-screen breakdown and assorted other treasures. Anyway so my insensitivity was sort of preemptive to the insensitivity I anticipated from him and Hannity and friends, which upon reflection was a bad call; I mean obviously, fuck what those guys think. I really hate people who think the answer to the Right's lack of human empathy is to pretend anyone on the Right is not human, so why did I just almost become one of them?

Frankly, San Diego, I do not give a shit if you voted for Bush or Kerry in the last election: I ache for your losses either way. I am also impressed by your heroism and resourcefulness. It still saddens me to say I have more confidence that, when it all blows over, most of you will rebuild your houses and lives quicker and more successfully than the victims of disaster in most other corners of the world; I think that's just how liberals are. It reminds me of the time, during Katrina, that I met a Kerry campaigner in Ohio who mused that he wished the death toll would go higher and reach that of 9/11.... well, fuck if that's not a warped way to have to think about things!

Anyway, so: I am really, really thankful for every Californian whose life was spared in this, including those of all the celebrities whose photos = my livelihood, and from now on I hope we can all just drop all the schadenfreude and learn to be inspired by our fellow humans for once.

Ha ha ha, that last part was a joke.

DISCUSSION

jennasauers
Jenna Sauers

@foree: Seriously. I feel bad for lots of people who suffer: people whose countries are involved in internecine conflicts, people who are starving because the world has a food-distribution problem, people who are struggling under repressive regimes. I feel bad for anyone who's not the author of their own suffering.

I feel something a little different for people who want the home in the nice, tinder-dry, remote, forested hills, those hills, you know the ones, that burn to ash every few years in their own age-old and well-documented cycle of life. You don't choose to live on top of an active volcano for the view: What are you doing in Malibu?

I do feel bad for the people who for economic reasons are basically stuck in San Diego, and can't afford to live in a place that isn't one giant firetrap. But anyone who can afford to go elsewhere, and doesn't, or who worse, specifically chooses to move there and push one more megahome a little further into what used to be the wilderness, and what still behaves like a wilderness every fire season, gets a little bit less than my sympathy. It would be one thing if these fires were once-in-one-hundred-years events: Nobody foresaw the Mississippi floods or the collapse of the levees in New Orleans. But wildfires threaten human life and property in Southern California only slightly less frequently than school shootings happen across the US. If it's not wrong to suggest that proper gun control is a reasonable response to the problem of the frequency of the latter, how is it wrong to suggest readjusting human habitation patterns to align us better with the natural world is a reasonable response to the problem of the frequency of the former?