Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to examine this whole Rob Ford/22 Minutes/911 episode coolly and dispassionately because I think it reveals a couple interesting and disturbing things about our mayor.
Firstly, how is it that a politician who, just one year ago, ran a campaign so masterful that he convinced 47% of Toronto voters that he was something he wasn’t can now so seriously muff such a golden PR moment? I, perhaps one of the least Ford friendly types around, absolutely agree with the mayor when he said that the skit was an ambush that crossed the line. Give politicians their personal space. Stay away from their homes and families. There are so many other opportunities when they’re on the clock for a surprise attack.
But then the mayor had to go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like… well, we all know what he sorta, mighta said. And this is a respectable site we run here. If we’re going to go around dropping the f-bomb, it’ll be on our terms not dictated by some foul-mouthed blowhole.
The thing is, what he said or didn’t say to the 911 operators is not really the salient point. What’s at issue is that the mayor saw fit to call 911 in the first place. He doesn’t really seem to have any risk assessment abilities.
Now, I know he’s a high profile public figure and that there’s been death threats but come on. Even if you don’t know who Marg Delahunty is (and frankly we’d long since forgotten) what was it about her demeanour, her microphone, her Halloween costume that screamed ‘threat’ at the mayor? A threat to humour and entertainment possibly but to his person? To his family’s welfare? Frankly, having watched the clip, I can say that I’ve felt more accosted by people coming to my door trying to sell me water heaters.
Yet it seems the mayor assessed the situation and deemed it menacing enough to call for police back up. Not once. Not twice. Three times?? What could he have possibly said the first time around that didn’t catch his own attention and stop him from proceeding? “Yeah, I’m the fucking mayor of this city and somebody’s outside my house trying to interview me. Send over a cruiser.”
Did he not pause for even one second before acting on his impulse and think, this is probably over the top. The crazy women didn’t follow me to the house. She seems to be walking away, talking to her cameraman. It’s all good now.
You know, overriding that fight-or-flight, reptilian part of our brains that served us well way back on the savannah or even now when our house is on fire but kind of makes us look like jittery, melodramatic crackpots when we don’t stay on top of it during relatively benign encounters. Over-reacting. Catastrophizing, to use cognitive behavioural therapy lingo. There’s a reporter on our doorstep. To the panic room!
Extrapolating just a little from that, you start to see a similar pattern in his approach to governance. We’re $774 million in the hole?! Slash and burn! Slash and burn, people!! The garbage men are on strike?! Make everyone who works for us an essential service! They want to charge me $60 extra bucks to renew my licence?! I’ll cut that and freeze property taxes! How do you like that, punk!?
Oh my God, the PTA has disbanded!!
It’s a question of disproportionality. Perceived threat is exaggerated (“Toronto’s financial foundation is crumbling”), so solution is similarly over the top (10% cut to all departments). If we don’t, if we don’t, people, your property taxes will be raised by 700%. That’s just reality.
No, no. That’s only reality as seen through a lens of rack and ruin. Where any type of government spending (except for those things that keep you safe) is seen as suspicious and anyone not holding exactly similar opinions is a threat. It’s a dark, dim, dystopic view of the world with bogeymen around every corner and under every bed. It’s not conducive to sound leadership or any forward thinking. It’s just about hunkering down, covering your head and lashing out at anyone or anything that hovers too close.
That’s the colour of fear. Nothing productive can ever come of it.
– effingly submitted by Cityslikr