Rob Ford, Toronto?

The fine residents of Toronto have elected Rob Ford as their mayor, from a rather uninspiring pack.

Most major cities do, from time to time, get bored of sensible, straight-laced politicians, what with their big fancy words and incomprehensible budgets. Tired of the inevitable sense of being cheated out of hard earned money by an evil cabal, the citizens get seduced by the impassioned shouting, or folksy affability, or deliberate anti-intellectualism, of a particular kind of candidate.

Often, this weirdly appealing ignorant rageaholic will make all sorts of sexist, racist, xenophobic, or just generally asinine and unsupportable comments, quite unapologetically, under the impression that they are stating a self-evident truth that other people are afraid to acknowledge.

Toronto’s new mayor, Mr. Ford, has a veritable cornucopia of such statements on the record from his various outbursts in the city council.

Wikipedia’s Rob Ford entry has a some highlights (most of which are available for your viewing entertainment on YouTube):

Ford opposed providing city funds to build bicycle lanes on roads. During the 2007 city budget debate, he said, “I can’t support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”
Ford strenuously objected to the possibility that a homeless shelter would open in his suburban Etobicoke ward. Later in the same year, he was quoted while berating an anti-poverty activist, “Do you have a job, sir? I’ll give you a newspaper to find a job, like everyone else has to do between 9 and 5.” In 2005, Ford told a homeless protestor, “I’m working. Why don’t you get a job?”
Ford argued against the city spending $1.5 million on AIDS prevention programs. Ford stated that “(AIDS) is very preventable,” and that “if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line. With respect to the increasing rates of women contracting the disease, Ford said; “How are women getting it? Maybe they are sleeping with bisexual men.”
During a debate at City Hall, Ford said, “Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out … that’s why they’re successful in life. … I’m telling you, Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over, because there’s no excuses for them. They’re hard, hard workers.”

At least the conservatives here in the UK aren’t openly racist and homophobic (though the rich-white-man sense of entitlement is obviously shared).

This may be a silly question, but what is it about the arts, the homeless, LGBTQ people (that’s Ford making the leap from AIDS to gay, not me, btw), and people from other countries that conservatives object to so strongly? And cyclists (though the Tory London mayor Boris and the new PM are both keen on cycling, so maybe it’s only in North America that people get jealous of their road space)?

Is it too big a leap to point out that these people are all identifiably ‘different’? That they are not conforming to a particular ‘norm’ – like having a 9-5 job and wearing a tie and owning a house and marrying a member of the opposite sex in order to reproduce and being a white person who doesn’t speak with a noticeable accent. And a car owner.

Can’t have the government money going to those different people, now can we? Nope, all those incentives and things should focus on car/office/house/spouse. Because that’s what ‘everyone else’ has to do. They have to be different in their spare time.


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