• The Publisher’s Notebook •
Malibu Doesn’t Need Enemies...
BY ANNE SOBLE
Even as we all are mesmerized by every new gadget of the modern technological era, it might be wise to remember some of those treacly cliches that passed for the wisdom of yore, such as “be careful what you wish for, you might get it,” “actions speak louder than words.” and “appearances are more important than reality.” Slight deviations of phrasing notwithstanding, these maxims may contain more than a modicum of relevance to much of what passes for Malibu public policy today. Last month, members of the Malibu City Council heeded the call of a small but vocal group that maintains that Malibu would be wildfire safe if no more legal public camping is permitted in its midst. The same would probably also be true if the city council banned international terrorists from the public parklands in Malibu. And from a public policy agenda perspective, the likelihood of an Al Qaeda-started wildfire is greater since its members are prone to pack things like machine guns and rocket launchers with their hiking boots. But then there are probably some folks at city council meetings who think that typical camping families bring arsenals with them as well.
I groan every time I check references to Malibu on the web and find hundreds of postings for tragic examples of what passes for celebrity in the year 2008 and an equal number of pitches for high-priced rehab centers with ostensibly worse recidivism rates than the prison system. Now websites have the Dec. 5 Malibu City Council meeting to kick around. Local residents are booing and heckling speakers with impunity. I expect outsiders to misread local intentions, but when locals misrepresent facts or act churlishly, it reflects on all of Malibu. I’ve watched wildfire edge onto my land, but fear of wildfire can be worse than the flames. If the fear wins out, there’s incapacitation. There isn’t any effort to prepare and prevent. People begin to delude themselves with false smugness about their safety. Outsiders who criticize Malibu cannot inflict as much damage as Malibuites do when they are their own worst enemies.