Slippery Slope

November 19, 2013

I’m not a fan of the slippery slope argument. slipperyslopeWhen you respond to an idea by bringing up the worst possible case scenario that could come from pursuing or implementing that idea. Like (Topical Reference Alert!), if someone suggests going out for a few pops and drinking yourself into a stupor but you decline, citing a fear of that leading to crack smoking as the reason.

We heard of the dreaded slippery slope during the last couple special council meetings called to strip Mayor Ford of much of his governing powers. How, proceeding down that path, it would set a dangerous precedent for future councils to neutralize future mayors simply because they didn’t agree with them politically or with what they were wearing on a particular day. Rampant over-reach of powers and nullilfying of democracy just around the corner, folks!

Nonsense, of course. We’re talking a 2/3s majority of council which rarely happens at the best of times. nonsense1So to invoke the specter of such a thing happening on a regular basis over routine disagreements is simply craven fear-mongering.

What happened yesterday at Toronto city council was unprecedented because it was facing an unprecedented situation in the mayor’s office. An unrepentant (and just mouthing the words ‘I apologize’ is different than actually being apologetic) drug using and binge drinking mayor who shirks his duties while consorting with criminals and is a serial liar about almost every aspect of his personal and professional life had become nothing more than an international walking punch line. His contribution to City Hall and civic life amounted to simply a bothersome nuisance that drained the ability of our local government to go about its business.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The hope is, of course, that what we are experiencing right now are desperate times. That it’s just some glitch, an unforeseen anomaly that, through happenstance and bad timing, befell us. The circumstances are such that the chances of something like this happening again are highly improbable. nothingtoseehereFingers crossed.

I mean, watching the mayor and his brother’s performances yesterday (h/t to Ev Delen and Jonathan Goldsbie for the video), one sure as hell would hope that this particular administrative strain is an outlier. Mocking and knocking over colleagues, baiting and yelling at citizens in attendance, declaring war in next year’s election… ? It’s just not the behaviour of reasonable people.

And then, I find myself sliding down my own fears of slippery slope-ism.

Back in 2010 when it became obvious that Rob Ford just might be the city’s next mayor, many of us fingered the suddenly tight collars around our neck and rationalized out loud that, Well, what’s the worst he could do? Even knowing his sketchy background both inside and outside City Hall, he was only going to be a mayor in a relatively weak mayor system. His excesses would be held in check by 44 councilllors, right? youcannotbeseriousRight?

Yeah so, wrong. All hell’s broken loose and there remains enough support for the runaway train wreck that is Team Ford that we still, after all he’s been caught doing, confessed to and the shit still lurking around the corner, have to view him as a threat to be re-elected. No. Really. There is a chance that candidates running for mayor of Toronto in next year’s election will have to treat Rob Ford as an actual credible opponent. Again.

He hasn’t been forced to resign in disgrace. He apparently possesses zero degree of shame or honour to own up to his actions and realize he’s severely sullied the office of the mayor and put the city he was elected to lead on the international map for all the wrong reasons. Hey, folks. WYSIWYG. Take him or leave him. Rob Ford’s going nowhere. At least, not quietly.

Which leads me to wonder is he the new normal? That slippery slope from a public figure that has to at least make a pretense of decorum and decency to just some fucking guy who runs around bellowing, Elect Me! I can do better than that! Whatsa matter, you elitist? Got a problem with a knucklehead? Well, la-di-da.lowerthebar

Don’t get me wrong here. I could care less about the man’s off-duty boozing and drug smoking, although I do think the mixing of both with driving and gangland figures calls into some question his stunning lack of judgement. It’s his inability to actually show up to work that offends me. His disrespect bordering on contempt for anyone not sharing a bloodline with him that’s problematic. His lying. About everything. Every time he opens his mouth.

His general lack of fitness for the job he was elected to do.

Has he now lowered the bar of expectation to a point where behaviour like his by a politician is considered perfectly fine? Will the standards Rob Ford has established as mayor become par for the course? After four years of bearing witness to this out-and-out shit show, will Rob Ford immunize us against the belief that such a thing as good governance once existed?

If I’m right and the case for a slippery slope exists on unsound foundations, we should be able to put this evil genie back into the bottle. downadarkholeUse this past 3 years as a teachable moment and say a sad told-you-so. Close the door and move on.

If I’m wrong?

Well, that’s just slippery slope to depressing thoughts and irreversible apathy.

slidingly submitted by Cityslikr