Schadenford: The arrest of Rob Ford, city hall hoser
Poor Rob Ford. If only he’d slept beside a machine all his life like those Orientals from the Orient, he probably wouldn’t be in this pickle. As you surely know by now, Ford was arrested Wednesday on charges of assault and threatening death in a domestic dispute involving his wife. When you heard the news, did you have that weird paradoxical reaction of being simultaneously surprised and not surprised? Shocked and blasé? You know, the kind of vaguely self-aware reaction that would make for a passable media studies paper or maybe, if you’re Lynn Crosbie, another tortured column in the Globe? Because when you think about it, didn’t the latest circus seem inevitable?
I mean, just look at him, right? Here’s a guy who is as unenlightened a hoser as you’ll ever find. Once, at a Leafs game (typical), he got drunk (typical) and belligerent (same), and then made fun of the Green Party (predictable) and Iranians (predictable, and also crass). He opposes speed bumps, and he once said that when cyclists get killed “it’s their own fault.” He has called Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti “Gino-boy,” made some comments about gays and AIDS that were so 1989, and said that “Oriental people work like dogs” and “are slowly taking over.” (He apologized to both Mammoliti and his Asian overlords. The LGBT crowd is still waiting.)
Perhaps, in a meta-analysis kind of way, you considered it some form of poetic justice that someone who has so frequently made recourse to ethnic and cultural stereotypes should himself come to symbolize the worst clichés of his own type—that the fat, white, insensitive, car-commuting suburban conservative WASP should end up being arrested for allegedly abusing his wife. And there’s the rub: if that’s what you’re thinking, then you are engaging in some pretty offensive ethnic caricature, which means you are no better than Rob Ford. Schadenfreude is such a guilty pleasure.
Meanwhile, if you can see past the prejudice, it’s clear that Rob Ford should not resign from council. Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, points out that Ford was given custody of the kids despite the charges. Yesterday morning, AM640 broke the news that Ford had called the police the day before his arrest, to complain about his wife’s irrational behaviour. In other words, the known details of the case don’t conform to type at all. It’s messy and could get messier still. For the moment, the only conclusion to be drawn is that some serious marital difficulties are unfolding in the Ford household—not something to ever wish upon anyone.
POSTSCRIPT: The National Post wins Friday morning’s Rob Ford sweepstakes: though armed with nothing more than the same details as everyone else, Kelly Grant spins them into an insightful analysis of a serious issue. Meanwhile, for those of you awaiting John Barber’s Saturday column to see if he tackles this topic, here’s some advance viewing.