Opinion: Musings on the Coast


Demonizing the Opposing Side

The Merriam-Webster definition of “demonize” is: “To portray someone or something as evil or as worthy of contempt or blame.”

That is what Village Laguna (VL) does to its opponents—it demonizes.

Let’s go to three issues. According to its own website, Village Laguna:

1. Opposes outdoor dining.

To be specific, here are quotes from Villagelaguna.org.

“We are particularly concerned that a 2-year extension [to outdoor dining] will build expectations that these dining areas should be permanent… [outdoor dining] …should be phased out as soon as possible.”

2. Regarding the Village Entrance:

Village Laguna has long opposed a parking structure on the Village Laguna Entrance site.

3. Regarding the Promenade on Forest Avenue:

“We worry, as we have for a long time, that closing Forest Avenue will benefit only a very few and hurt others. The bulk of the assistance is concentrated on lower Forest Avenue, benefiting four restaurants and removing parking for all the businesses on that street. The idea that it will stimulate business for the adjacent shops is only speculative.”

In a recent column, I wrote that a recent opinion poll conducted by the City showed all three measures are very popular with the citizens of Laguna and that Village Laguna is on the wrong side of the issues. This was part of a column on several issues (in the poll) where VL was on the wrong side of public opinion.

So, when I say VL acolytes “demonize,” here was their response in letters to the editor.

From Mark Ryan: “Another week, another puerile column from Michael Ray… And his straw man arguments claiming, for instance, that Village Laguna ‘wants to eliminate outdoor dining’ are… absurd.”

From Johanna Felder: “…. In his latest Opinion piece…, Michael Ray once again tells the same lies about Village Laguna. Maybe Putin has taken lessons from Ray because they seem to be using the same playbook. Putin lies about protecting Ukraine from the Nazis while Ray tells lies about protecting Laguna from Village Laguna.”

From Toni Iseman: “Should he retract his lie? Will he stop making up lies?”

From Kristen Purll: “Holy cow. How uncivil, how unfair; the vitriol and hatespeak [sic] of his column is un-Laguna…”

There it is. Personal attacks. Demonization. Not a discussion of the issues because VL cannot defend its positions as popular. They are not. Instead, VL personally attacks those holding a different opinion—or even those pointing out public opinion does not support VL’s positions.

I think this is because VL is afraid. It held power for decades and now does not, and this drives them crazy. So, what do they do? They pull out the oldest political tactic in the playbook: they demonize their opposition, just like any hard-boiled political organization.

And make no mistake about one thing: Village Laguna is a hard-boiled political organization, and as ruthless about its tactics as a senile four-term senator down 10 points in the polls a month before the election.

I have a solution for this problem: VL should finally engage in open debate with someone from the other side. Let the light shine in. For years, this has been offered to Village Laguna and for years Village Laguna has avoided it like the plague.

So, my VL friends, how about it? Will you debate? Or will you continue to hide?

Michael is a Laguna Beach resident and principal officer emeritus of Laguna Forward PAC.

Share this:
View Our User Comment Policy


  1. Mr Ray continues his largely fact-free character assassination attempts of Village Laguna. He arrives at his flimsy arguments by misrepresenting VL’s positions and/or linking the survey result findings to tangential issues on which VL has staked a position. His continued attacks are ever more pathetic and ineffective and remain transparent to his goals of personal financial benefit.

  2. Mr Morris may be right about Mr Ray, however Mr Morris should step up and take Mr Ray’s offer and have a debate. It would be enlightening to hear these two diametrically opposed sides get to rebut each other’s claims and let us neutral folks act as an impartial jury of their peers. We have a local radio station that would love to host this! We can call it “Lets go Michael”

  3. Now michael. You know Mike Ray has a couple of personal residences in Laguna. Why do you and many VL acolytes make up this nonsense about him fighting with VL for
    financial gain? Can’t you come up with the true reason he fights with VL? How about this folksy sounding organization held a strangle hold on politics in Laguna for years? Raising money under false pretense. Maybe that is what set him off. I know it does me.

  4. Come on Village Laguna. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DEBATE.

    I suggest you debate Sally Anne Sheridan, former Mayor of Irvine (she created the Irvine Barclay Theater), and Chair of Laguna Forward.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here