Get A Job

February 13, 2011

A friend of mine was commissioned to paint a mural onto one of Toronto’s underpasses a couple years back. He told me that everyday during the week or so that it took him to complete it, a guy on a bicycle would ride past him in the morning shouting ‘Get A Job!’ Then again a few hours later, seemingly on his way back home from work the same thing. Get A Job!

An enduring schoolyard taunt meant to heap scorn, derision and contempt upon its intended target. And one used this past week by Councillor Doug Ford when he was aggressively confronted by a raging protester outside a budget committee meeting. It’s a Ford family favourite apparently, thrown around at least once before by the then councilor and now mayor, Rob Ford, during a 2005 meeting that was similarly besieged by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

Now I don’t begrudge Councillor Ford a response to someone who was literally in his face. I would’ve preferred to see him try and reduce the heightened tension by calmly listening to the protester and explaining what he was trying to do as a member of the budget committee. Failing that, I’d even be OK if the councillor simply told the guy to go fuck himself.

But the ‘get a job’ retort reveals an absolute lack of empathy or understanding toward a point of view that is different from the one Councillor Ford possesses. He clearly has no concept of what drives people toward protesting against what they perceive as injustice. Just like his brother who couldn’t understand what people were doing downtown during the G20 meeting last summer and thought their mere presence justified the police over-reaction. Nor does Councilor Ford get what people would be doing in the middle of the day, disrupting his business. Shouldn’t they be just like him, off somewhere doing a job?

What makes his ‘get a job’ shot even more disturbing is that it comes from a daddy-made millionaire who, in all likelihood, didn’t have to look very far to get work or spend much time polishing up his resumé. It’s a Marie Antoinette ‘let them eat cake’ (yeah, yeah, I know she probably didn’t really say it but it’s the sentiment I’m going for here) moment that reveals a stunning degree of cluelessness and callousness toward people struggling to get by especially in these dire economic times. Or toward those who have designated themselves defenders of the underrepresented underclass.

That Councillor Ford lied about having made the remark suggests somewhere in his consciousness he recognizes the inappropriateness of it although I haven’t seen or heard him issue an apology for doing so. So maybe he knows he shouldn’t have said it from an optics point of view but ultimately can’t understand why. This bodes ill for those he doesn’t agree with or whose plight the councillor isn’t sympathetic to. An age of nasty that seems to be the trademark of modern conservatives everywhere.

work like a doggingly submitted by Cityslikr