Tuesday, 4 June 2013

TOO MUCH FOCUS ON FORD

I don't get it.

Sure, I don't think Rob Ford is a great mayor. I don't think he's even a GOOD mayor. I think he's thin-skinned, although no more than Nenshi. He is thought/known to have used his office for personal gain. He is brash, intransigent, paranoid, and desperately needs to invest in collar stays to smooth out and crisp up those collars. I can put him on to a website that sells good-quality titanium ones for a reasonable price, as long as he doesn't try to grab my arse.

All that aside, I am starting to actually feel sorry for the guy as a result of this alleged crack-smoking tape hullaballoo. Yes, the footage probably exists (even though sources are saying it's "gone"). Yes, we can probably take the word of a gossip site "journalist" and two other reporters (albeit from a newspaper known to be heavily critical of, and criticized by, Ford) about the footage's contents--partly because of the odd fallout with Ford staffers resigning/being fired, as well as his initial silence and more recent smugness. Where there's smoke, there tends to be fire and all that, unless the smoke is actually vapour coming off of dry ice, in which case it's the complete opposite of fire...ergh...

At any rate, like I said: I don't get it. Why is Mr. Ford's ostensible crack use--arguably the smallest and least significant, and not even most sordid, of his numerous shortcomings--drawing such voyeuristic and schadenfreudistic curiosity? When he was making a fool of himself and a mockery of Conflict of Interest rules, there wasn't a tenth of the media attention that there is now that he's been outed as someone who smokes rock and bashes Justin Trudeau when he's high. What is the big deal there? Haven't we all indulged our healthy, evolutionarily-hardwired, God-given desire for illicit drugs, then dissed a would-be prime minister in the psychedelic heat of the inebriated moment? No? Oh.

I don't pity Ford because he uses (or at least used) illicit drugs: I think drug users need help, not sympathy. I pity him because the system and people around him completely failed to keep him accountable for all the turmoil and hardship that he caused when not smoking crack (as far as we know), but as soon as second-rate media outlets publish second-hand accounts of a Second City mayor using a hard drug on a single known occasion, everyone's on him like Rob Ford on a football game where there's free hot dogs and cheap women.

The most pathetic aspect to the tale was when there was brief speculation, with which this saga is bursting, that a person associated with the drug use and/or recording of the footage was killed as a direct result of this story going mainstream. The briefest of follow-ups confirmed that there was absolutely no connection between the murder of this "involved" person and the situation itself...but hey! Let's just keep adding fuel to the fire that's burning out of control. And once it dies down, all that will be left will be grey, insubstantial ash, an anemic remnant of what started off as such a juicy scoop. Then we'll all wonder what all the fuss was about and go back to watching Duck Dynasty.

Just so we're clear: I'm not a Rob Ford fan. I think he should resign, simply because it's going to be near impossible for him and council to be halfway productive with this gargantuan pall of smoke (or dry ice vapour, or whatever) hanging over City Hall. I think he should resign for his own sake, too, and take care himself: it can't have been fun being subjected to such criticism, no matter how self-inflicted and deserved it is. And if he does use crack, then all the more reason to step down, step back, and seek treatment. So yes, I agree with those who think he should call it quits--but perhaps for different reasons.

No, I don't think that he should be mayor anymore. But just as I think that Mr. Ford has failed to meet the standard required of those in the highest of public office (and I don't count his crack use among those breaches), I also think that the media outlets involved--those who published seeshow and hearsay and wild conjectures--have also failed to meet the standard required of those who present the public with what is supposed to be factual, substantiated, and relevant information. And of the two breaches of trust, I take the one that doesn't involve a known buffoon much more seriously.

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