The Laughable Bumblefuck is no more. Were I a Proper Journalist, like the ones currently tripping over their own feet in a pathetic attempt to say something nice about the man, and not a half-assed commie blogger spewing occasional sweary political commentary, I'd already have a eulogy written up. We knew this was coming. I'd play up his virtues, paltry though they were, and lament his terrible death at the hands of a foe even more ravenous and unrestrained than the man himself. I'd remind my readers that it is impolite to speak ill of the dead, etc.
Let's be honest, though. That's not who I am.
For four years, I devoted considerable pixels to documenting Mayor Ford's disastrous reign over the city I love. He was the Richard Nixon to my Hunter S. Thompson
, if I were a better writer and he had his finger on the Big Red Button. I have a lot of feelings. I don't believe that death confers sainthood. I believe this makes me more respectful and empathetic towards my enemies than those who suddenly retract all of their negativity and criticism. When I someday die, if the right declares me to have been balanced and open to compromise and possessed of some latent conservative virtues, they had better watch out for my wrathful zombie revenge. Fuck that. I was everything Ford hated, and he was everything I despise.
I'm not exactly going to dance on his grave, but that's mainly because he died of cancer—and no one should have to die of cancer*—rather than of acute lead poisoning, as is the correct mode of death for reactionaries. And literally, that's the only reason. If you are, like most today, inclined towards grief or sympathy, remember, whilst voting against $1.5 million in AIDS prevention spending, that this is the man who argued—despite being a drug user himself
—that "if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably." Or said, regarding the deaths of cyclists, increased by his pro-car politicies, "My heart bleeds for them when someone gets killed. But it’s their own fault at the end of the day." He would not feel sympathy for you if you died. I doubt any of the Important People eulogizing him today will spare a thought for Anthony Smith, a troubled young man whose death Ford may have directly or indirectly hastened.
Ford the man doesn't matter. His family, once they get over their grief, is likely well rid of him
, though I understand that the death of an abusive spouse or parent is emotionally fraught and complex. Not for nothing did I dub him the Honourable Wife Beater. I'm sure that Toronto's Finest are relieved to not have to answer any more domestic disturbance calls. But even if he'd been the loving family man the press is longing to claim he was, private sadness is not what I'm interested in.
Ford the politician, conversely, represented all that is reprehensible and destructive in modern politics. He exemplified the new paradigm where (assuming you are rich, and white, and male), scandal does not affect you, and the way to address allegations of illegal or immoral activity is just to push past them and insult those who would hold you accountable. He was the prototypical blustering showman, shouting over the opposition instead of engaging them in a fact-based debate, a bully who dragged the level of discourse to the lowest common denominator. He was a white millionaire who claimed to be an everyman you could have a beer with, showing up at TCHC buildings that he fought to defund and demolish and pretending to fix the broken lightbulbs. He hurled racial epithets at the people who supported him the most passionately, stoking the economic masochism of the underclass he despised. Despite a rampantly ideological agenda of austerity, he contributed, more than any other political figure I can name, to the depoliticization of the discourse, taking the neoconservative line as basic fact and reducing the political spectrum to mere identity politics.
He was a politician who hated politicians, and whatever you can say about politicians as a whole, the only thing that's worse than a politician is a fucking CEO. Ford would replace the Citizen with the Consumer, replace the living, breathing, thriving, shitting, dancing organism of the city to a prosaic transaction. Cut here, trim there, until all that remains is a hollowed out shell where the taxpayer gets in his SUV, drives in traffic to a job that doesn't pay enough, goes home, and experiences nothing of community, of urbanity, of interdependence.
He was the scion of a political dynasty, and if there's one thing I loathe, it's a political dynasty. You shouldn't get to be ushered into office because your father was, because your name has brand recognition. It's indecent.
He was a misogynist, a racist, and a homophobe. This got lost, because he was also a drug addict, but it's far more important than the fact that he was a drug addict. Dress it up how you like, excuse it away by claiming that he was damaged, but the truth is that he had every privilege handed to him on a silver platter and used it to shit on those lower down the ladder. He may have come off as an entertaining clown to the rest of the world, but to Toronto, he ruined real lives and there's nothing funny about it.
So good fucking riddance. We're spared the further damage a living, physically healthy Rob Ford might have inflicted on our collective lives. I didn't get my wish to see him go down in flames, at last convicted of the many crimes that would have brought him down had he not been a rich white guy, and I'm a little disappointed that I never got to hear a resignation speech that was simply, "THE ARISTOCRATS!" But if there's any justice, they'll name an LRT out to Scarborough after him, or the new Bloor bike lanes
, and the city can breathe a sigh of relief, and once again become a place worth living in.
P.S. Cops attacked the Black Lives Matter camp
last night, set up to protest the lack of charges in the police murder of Andrew Loku, a mentally ill black man. If you actually care about what goes on in Toronto, you can donate to Black Lives Matter - Toronto through Interac at firstname.lastname@example.org (
question: what chapter answer: toronto). They also need donations of blankets, cardboard boxes, hot drinks, gloves, hand warmers, and "anything to keep protestors warm."
* Except that Doug Ford used to hold press conferences at Princess Margaret, disrupting the lives and treatments of other people suffering from cancer, so it's not like having cancer made him less repulsive or anything.