On the death of Rob Ford and mourning abusive men

rob ford

Rob Ford is dead. The former Toronto mayor died of cancer this morning, at 46-years-old. According to news reports and social media, we are in mourning, as always, expected to politely and respectful honour men when they pass, even if they were bad men.

Rob Ford was a bad man.

There are people in his life who are likely hurting due to their loss, I understand this. But I also understand that there are people in his life who are now free from his abuse. In death, must we forget about men’s abuse?

Rob Ford was “flawed,” the media tells us. He had a “dark side.” They will admit he smoked crack, as though this is a great sin or something that defines one’s character. Few will admit to much else. Out of “respect.”

I don’t care that Rob Ford was an alcoholic or a crack addict. The number of people in our society who struggle with substance abuse are countless. I do care about how his addictions impacted those around him, but crack was not Ford’s biggest “flaw.”

Today, the CBC called him a “millionaire with a working-class attitude.” No. He was a millionaire who hated the poor. Like many other millionaires. If anything, Ford was a kind of Trump-lite, somehow seen as an “everyman” because he is so brave as to admit his bigotry publicly and proudly. Certainly he did not support struggle of the working-class, anti-union as he was. The CBC is correct that he became an “international celebrity for his drug and alcohol use while in office,” but he shouldn’t have been infamous for that reason. Rather, it should have been his treatment of women, people of colour, and the poor that brought him infamy.

As far as political successes go, he had none, really, unless you count getting garbage privatized on one side of the city as a notable accomplishment. The fact that he “spoke to” many people is only notable in what it reveals about people. It reveals nothing positive about Ford’s impact on politics, Toronto, or on Canadians.

“A dedicated man of the people,” he was called, in a statement from “his family” (I do not know which members of his family prepared this statement). No. He was not a man of “the people,” he was a man who was out for himself and others like him: white middle or upper class men.

He outright rejected the existence of homeless shelters, was overtly homophobic and racist, suggesting, in 2003, that Toronto be declared a “refugee-free zone.” Ford was charged with assaulting and threatening to kill his wife, Renata, in 2008 (though the charges were dropped), and in 2011 she reportedly placed a call to 911, with regard to a “verbal altercation” between herself and her husband. In 2012, the police were called to Renata’s parent’s house, where she was found with “numerous physical injuries including scrapes, bruising and cuts” on her face and body (he was not charged in this circumstance either). The police say they have received many calls from the Ford residence, related to domestic abuse. He sexually harassed women, dragging his wife with him into the media in order to defend himself, humiliating her (further) in the process. He said, of mayoral contender Karen Stintz, “I’d like to fucking jam her.” He, apparently, offered to let his friends have sex with his wife and bragged about cheating on her. I could go on; you get the point.

People make mistakes, they say things they should not have said, they behave in ways they regret. There is no reason to expect perfection from human beings and there are many circumstances under which we should forgive mistakes. But these behaviours, exhibited by Ford, repeatedly, were not simply “flaws” or “mistakes” so much as they were a deep sense of entitlement and a bigoted ideology. And if Ford was simply “an ordinary man,” as the media is fond of saying, what does that say, then, about “ordinary men?”

I am not celebrating his death, but I find myself unable to mourn respectfully, as I am expected to. Rather, I am saddened that so many allowed him to mistreat those around him, throughout his life. I am sad that his wife and other women suffered his wrath. I am sad for the prostituted women he paid. I am sad for the women he sexually harassed. I am sad that men like him exist and prosper in our society. But apart from that, I am not able to muster an ounce of sadness at the loss of yet another abusive, entitled man. I will not pretend away reality simply because he is dead. I won’t respect men who showed so little respect for humanity.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Irish O’Jay

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks

  • Alienigena

    I felt the same way about Ralph Klein, first mayor, then premiere of Alberta. He was abusive towards the media although he started his professional life as a television reporter. And he was a drinking buddy of certain members of the media. But he was abusive towards homeless people (when drunk) and seemed blustery and thuggish in his demeanour. There is no evidence that he abused his wife but he had a really weird attitude toward his mother. He benefited from conducting his career, for the most part, in a pre-Internet and Twitter era. He did say this about Belinda Stronach in 2006 near the end of his career.

    “At a Calgary charity roast, he (Klein) told an audience: “Now
    Belinda roasted me as a Conservative but of course now she’s a Liberal …
    And I wasn’t surprised she crossed over — I don’t think she ever did
    have a Conservative bone in her body. Well, except for one.”
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/5-memorable-ralph-klein-moments-1.1347249

    …”The number of people in our society who struggle with substance abuse are countless.” Maybe, but they don’t have my sympathy nor do I inspire theirs (as someone with a chronic illness, though I sometimes think of substance abuse as a chronic illness) I suppose. My father was a binge drinker and his behaviours both sober or drunk had a lasting and damaging impact on me and my family as a whole. Sort of tired of all the effort being expended on substance abusers. Do they really have reduced life spans or do their behaviours reduce the quality of life and life spans of their children and spouses?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ugh that quote about Stronach! Awful!

  • Raina Mermaid

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAYING THIS.

  • corvid

    It seems that, in our culture, death often has the effect of canonizing our “heroes” and cleansing the infamous (at least temporarily.)

    It was disturbing, and predictable, that the “crack video” made much bigger news than Ford’s treatment of women.

  • Nina Mina

    Well said, keep on writing Meghan

  • Corey Pierce

    It’s not punching up if your subject is six feet below

    • corvid

      Yeah so let’s not criticize any dead person, ever.

  • Roberto Duhamel

    I agree with much of your piece, but singling out his gender as a reason to attack him is an insult to every male who thinks he was a thug and a buffoon. Rob Ford was a person who was sadly out of their depth as mayor. He may have personified a backlash against “elites”, but his supporters weren’t all male.

    • corvid

      Ford singled out women for mistreatment “because of their gender,” soooo….

      • Meghan Murphy

        Seriously.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks Michael.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks!

  • MsLeigh

    Thank you for saying this!!! My tongue is bleeding from biting it! I feel sorry for his family but the guy, spent decades abusing his body and made an international mockery of our city while offending millions. He fought a good fight but you have to carry some responsibility on how your treat the vessel you were given. Mind, Body and Soul. care for it.

    • T Tee

      It’s called addiction. You’ve clearly never had someone you love be consumed by it.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Well, I have, so…

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks Jem!

  • Meghan Murphy

    How so?

  • Jill713

    I really enjoyed this article and I agree that it’s important to say these things about this man and his life. I don’t think even celebrating death is inherently bad. In fact, we celebrate death all the time. I do question why you wrote that “I am sad for the prostituted women he paid.” Why are you sad about consensual sex work? It just doesn’t seem to fit the abusive scenarios that you laid out and it threw me off.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Because to pay a woman who does not wish to have sex with you, to have sex with you (i.e. coerce a woman into sex, because she has no other choice), is abusive. It’s dehumanizing and it is the behaviour of a misogynist.

      • Jill713

        If we are talking about non-consensual sex I agree of course, but I don’t think that sex work by its nature is non-consensual and abusive – is that what you are saying? I’ve heard that argument coming from Christian right “purity” types but much less from feminists.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Yes, I am saying that the system of prostitution dehumanizes and objectifies women and supports male power and entitlement. For more on this: http://www.feministcurrent.com/category/prostitution-2/

          • Jill713

            OK, that’s basically true but also applicable to almost every institution on earth. But I respect your perspective.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thank you for respecting our perspective. I will just add there is a difference when a woman’s body is being invaded… That is to say that having to work in a restaurant because you need the money is quite different than having to allow a number of strange men to penetrate your body while calling you derogatory and misogynist names, day in and day out…

        • Zuzanna Smith

          It is non-consensual, it is coercive, she needed money to live, he wanted a woman’s body to access sexually.

        • Melissa Cutler

          Jill, actually there are quite a few feminists who understand that “sex work” is non-consensual, even if the woman “chooses” to self-objectify herself, but we are considered radical by the liberal “feminists” and/or sex-positive “feminists.”

          As Rachel Moran said: “Liberal “feminists” have earned my contempt in a number of areas, but nowhere as deeply as in the area of the global sex trade. Their pro-prostitution stance is both profoundly anti-feminist and deeply hypocritical…If you doubt this, you have only to look at who makes up their numbers. They are predominantly white, upper middle class, 20-something women with the ink still wet on their college degrees. They swarm social media talking about “sex workers rights,” while never having seen the inside of a brothel, and actively dismiss and attempt to silence those of us who have. What they miss is the glaring fact that the vast majority of us who have experience of the sex trade have it precisely because we don’t share their myriad social privileges. We were corralled into prostitution because of marginalization along lines of class and race that they haven’t even the sense to deeply consider. Their ignorance to the reality of the sex trade is in fact a major feature of their privilege, as is their ignorance to their own ignorance. I’ve seen a lot that’s sickened me during these years of my public activism, but women who champion the use and abuse of other women who are socially vulnerable relative to them — and do so in the name of some phantom “feminism” — that just beats all.”
          From this interview: http://www.countercurrents.org/mickeyz070915.htm

  • LynetteB

    I have no problem applauding his death, and don’t feel it makes me a lesser person. He was a repugnant sack of shit who showed no sign of remorse about his constant assaults on the less fortunate, and the world is already a wee bit better place without his toxicity staining it.

    • T Tee

      It absolutely makes you a lesser person. What about the huge amount of people he helps as a ward councillor? As a man of he community? What about coaching one of the best high school football teams in Toronto in one of its worst areas? He has a wife and young children. A family. He was taken by a disease that’s merciless and has touched all of us negatively in some way. Applauding his death makes you classless, disrespectful garbage . To put it nicely.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Have you considered that perhaps he wasn’t the greatest husband or father?

        • T Tee

          I’m being serious I’m not swearing, I’m not being rude or threatening. I literally just brought up a very strong and logical point that you didn’t like, so you deleted it so your readers wouldn’t know you’re a judgemental piece of trash. Branding a man you know nothing about (other than media coverage of him) as a bad husband and father. Girl bye as I said below GROW A BACKBONE

          • Meghan Murphy

            Er, in the comment I deleted you called another commenter “garbage.” V. logical tho. You’re def impressing everyone here with all your logic.

            P.S. You’re banned now. Happy?

  • William R Upchurch

    I’d like to offer a rhetorical perspective, neither to defend Ford nor contradict this article, but to add to the discussion. The occasions for ceremonial speech (epideixis), like eulogies, are rhetorically rich. Traditionally, they were not meant to discuss the character of the dead, but that of the speaker and audience. These are values speeches, but they don’t speak to the past, rather the present. What are the values of the assembled crowd that can be compared and contrasted to the actions of the dead.

    So, the prohibition against speaking ill of the dead actually has some rhetorical merit in that there’s no point in kicking a dead body, but there’s a big opportunity to affirm present values through the lens of the dead person’s life. It’s not really about whether you speak ill or well of the dead, it’s more about using it as a pretext to shape the way people feel about the things that they did…how will we move forward after this person is gone (either to support, defend, and expand their beliefs and actions, or to place them in stark contrast to the values of the crowd/nation).

    (Like when someone comes in and asks why we should feel sorry for “voluntary sex workers,” knowing that the commenter probably wasn’t a huge fan of Ford, one might ask, “How many women do you know that would voluntarily sleep with Rob Ford?” Well, maybe that’s an insult too, but it was too good a line to pass up. 😀 Rhetorically though, it activates their hatred for Rob Ford and directs it into proper action. 🙂 )

    For me, as always, it’s about what creates a better public discourse, but that’s a privileged detachment, I admit. Honestly, I thought Meghan wrote a pretty respectful eulogy here, all things considered, going out of her way to be generous and focus on actions rather than character. That’s classic Marc Antony style, she came not to blame Ford but to bury him, and ask how we can use his example to make the world better. Bravo.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks for that context, Will! Interesting.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, addiction can make us behave badly and treat others badly. But I think it’s rather a stretch to blame Ford’s bigotry and hatred of marginalized people on addiction…

    • mptebow

      I don’t think we could know precisely what fueled his aggressive behaviour, and aggro politics. I feel like I’m in over my head with this viewpoint, because I cannot speak with certainty about what was going through his head. But I would suggest it is possible that he hated not only women, minorities, etc., but he also hated himself. And that he had no self esteem, and that he committed a very slow, painful, and very public suicide, all the while wielding this maniacal conservative sword. I feel that in the addictions and recovery community this type of thing is not uncommon, a person is so full of fear and resentment that the cycle of addiction perpetuates until they die, go to jail, go crazy, or hopefully go to rehab and have a lasting recovery. Again, I am just curious as to what others think, and how accepting would other be if this were the case? That is, his entire persona was maybe just a facade of a very sad, scared, resentful addict, and that he maybe didn’t even know who he was because he was so wounded and addicted…Again, not justifying his behaviour, but wondering if there is an explanation from a disease point of view, and what that would mean and how people would feel about it. Thanks 🙂

      • Core Luminous

        Any adult who abuses another acts with volition. If they do not take steps to deal with that, and continue to abuse others,then they have made a choice. It may be that they have some damage that is related to their behaviour. Yet that does not excuse causing harm, seeing that harm, and doing nothing to address the shituation.

        Too many people make excuses for abusive behaviour because they have a little bit of information about behavioural dynamics rather than enough information to make a well reasoned call on the matter.

        “his entire persona was maybe just the facade of a very sad, scared,
        resentful addict, and that he maybe didn’t even know who he was because
        he was so wounded and addicted.” – the same can be said of Hitler, Saddam Hussein, George Bush, Catholic child raping priests, Catholic Bishops who covered it up, my father…. and it cannot be used to excuse them from what they did.

        He was an abusive person. It was not his ‘personality’. It was mediated, intentional. He did not take responsibility and sought civil power. He abused the power.

        The whole point of understanding abusive behaviour dynamics is to be able to see ways to prevent it emerging.

        We know that behaviour is learned, it is largely driven by experience and environment.

        We know that many people who are abusers were themselves abused or traumatised, often in early childhood.

        We know that the vast majority of people who were abused in childhood do NOT become abusers.

        We know that the setting within the Western Civilisation which is now dominant, is a hierarchically violent social system, and that it pollutes everything it dominates. We know that attachment in early childhood is critical to the development of natural self control., We know that healthy attachment is less common than it needs to be. Largely because professional abusers have corralled executive power and use that power against the needs of the entire community. There IS a ruling class. There is a criminal class. They cause harm. They choose to cause harm.

        We also know that addressing ones abusive behaviour is the essential ingredient in resolving it. Refusal to do so is an abdication. He refused. That entire class refuses. Trump! Clinton!

      • c_d_k

        You might like to read “The Only Average Guy: Inside the Uncommon World of Rob Ford” by John Filion, his fellow Toronto Council member. Quite enlightening, very well written and researched, perhaps overly kind.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks Isabella!

  • Alienigena

    From the description of his chronic lateness, excessive impulsiveness (in his case extreme impulse control), his lack of interest in what was being said at public events, his addictions, and his jumping on a climbing apparatus at some event (with the kids) he might have had ADHD. All these behaviours were discussed in a CBC article.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rob-ford-behaviour-1.3492582

    Having been diagnosed as borderline ADHD (note women and girls are generally quite different from men and boys, symptomatically, addictive substances have no appeal for me but extraordinary bluntness (or blurtness if you prefer) does). Doesn’t mean I sympathise with him … I sympathise with his family and co-workers. And any women unfortunate enough to come within his sphere.

    Girls (even those with ADHD) are raised to think of others, be on time, basically to go completely against the grain (if they are ADHD). Being bored can be a kind of pain for people with ADHD, and unless you are very, very interested in a subject you may seem distracted, inattentive and yes, even sleepy. But again, no expectations seemed to be placed on him by his family to even try and fit in. If he had been female, I think there would have been a lot less tolerance for his behaviour. Whatever the cause or source.

    Internet diagnoses … destined to be wrong.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Um, yeah… You figured it out. Women often engage in prostitution for survival. We (abolitionists) do not judge prostituted women, we judge men who exploit women for profit and who pay for sex.

  • Meghan Murphy

    If you’re pointing out that my assessment of his behaviour had much to do with his white male privilege, you’re right. That said, I am critical of all men who abuse women, not just rich white ones.

    • Short back and sides

      That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. I’m suggesting that because he was a wealth, white, conservative male, his obvious struggle with drugs / alcohol gains no empathy from you, yet, had he been a poor FN male (for example, or a poor FN female) you would (i suspect) not be critical of the person, but critical of the system that doesn’t help him/her.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Does that not make sense to you? It makes sense to me.

      • Morag999

        Gee, it’s kind of hard to compare. If Rob Ford had been a poor First Nations female with a drug addiction, he wouldn’t have been millionaire Rob Ford — let alone an infamous celebrity mayor of Toronto known around the world for being a rich white guy getting away with for years the kind of outrageous behaviour a women wouldn’t get away with — rightly — for 5 minutes.

        And actually, I don’t know of any First Nations women who are poor and struggling with addiction while also holding mayor’s office and using her political position and power to sexually harass women, abuse her wife, buy prostituted women, and malign other poor, marginalized, racialized people like herself.

        In fact, I find this person/scenario very difficult to imagine. But, maybe, if you write another dumb comment explaining to how the reality of men like Rob Ford is equivalent to a constructed product of your wild imagination, I will begin to see the error of my ways, Or, maybe not, but at least you’ll have wasted a woman’s time and energy with your disingenuous game of let’s-pretend.

        • 3.36

          I happen to agree (generally) with the article, but your comment insults someone by calling them dumb, something that the author of the article removed another comment for (it also happened to be a comment that didn’t support the article). More importantly, I think it is very naive of you to think that highly abusive drug addled women do not exist in positions of power, its worrying that you can’t even imagine it. There is no game of let’s-pretend, there is only experience and ignorance. Just because you happen to be partially ignorant doesn’t mean that another’s experience is invalid. It is also a question of values. America is probably about to elect a president who has sent hundreds of thousands of people to their deaths and plunged several nations into slavery and debt for generations, all in the name of imperialism and commercial continuance, while popular discourse distracts you with political correctness. Political correctness may have it’s place, but be wary of what it is hiding from you.

  • Kayt Rivermoon

    Interesting viewpoint and interesting comments all.

  • cprime4

    I am never sorry to see abusive misogynists leave this earth. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

  • AkitaGuy

    Too many bleeding hearts, my thoughts are really simple, good riddance! He simply was not a good person and he was a bully at best. No loss here!

  • AkitaGuy

    Pure and simple, he was a bully. Thanks for what you said.

  • Jay Russell

    Yes. Just like how Michael Jackson died and everyone forgot he was a Pedo. Right?

  • Alienigena

    OK, shun probably too active a term, possibly avoid is more accurate. I have spent a lifetime avoiding places (public places, restaurants, movie theatres, etc.) because for much of my early life smoking in public places, planes and workplaces was legal. And cigarette smoke (smoke period) triggers asthma. So who is being penalized for their condition? Even when bylaws came into effect (2004) I was forced to be around smoke for hours at a time when the festival I volunteered for (and enjoyed) had a coordinator and volunteers who insisted on smoking during meetings. So I am left to quit volunteering or suffer.

    My problem is that the respect and compassion only go one way. I understood from experts on addiction that addicts only quit when they are ready to quit, not when family asks them too, only when the consequences for the addict become too great to bear. So, no matter how their addiction impacts others, they persist. The rest of us are just supposed to sit around waiting.

    Well, no thanks. Medical professionals are now informing authorities, in extreme cases, that family members who smoke are abusing their children. The case I am familiar with deals with two children from the same family who needed treatment 10x over a three year period because of conditions caused or exacerbated by second-hand smoke (ear infections, coughing, bronchitis, and asthma). Authorities were only contacted after the family (extended + parents) had received extensive counseling and assistance to help them quit smoking but had refused to quit.
    http://www.annfammed.org/content/13/2/103

    These adults could have chosen to smoke outside (as my brother did but only when his children were older, when they were young his home was a smoke-filled hell hole in which smoke lingered for hours after the smokers (my brother and his wife) had left the home).

    Personally, I have (as an adult) coughed continually for 24 hours (longest break in coughing maybe 15 minutes) until I started coughing up blood (small amounts over 10 days following coughing episode) and my ribs and diaphragm muscles ached for days following the coughing fit. I don’t owe anyone an hour or a day of illness. So, yes I choose to avoid people who value their own well being and pleasure more than that of others.

  • Will

    Who actually cares. Celebrate him if you will, Hate him if you want. The truth of the matter at hand is that he, maybe, affected 5% of the people who read this. This does not detract from the wonderfully written article full of both fact and opinion I applaud you speaking your mind and providing a voice to some that cannot speak with their own. I will never condone violence of any kind against women or men unfortunaly he is dead and will never atone for his hateful actions and again unfortunately the media could care less.
    Well that’s it for me, I apologize if my thoughts were a little incoherent.
    Have a fantastic weekend.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It makes sense to provide context, in terms of privilege — male privilege, white privilege, class privilege, etc.

    • Short back and sides

      I agree, context is always important, but addiction is addiction, it really doesn’t care about privilege or context for that matter and (in my view) anyone who is stricken with the disease of addition is worthy of empathy and not being labeled ‘a bad man.

      • Meghan Murphy

        But what you are missing is that no one is labeling him a bad man because of his addiction. I explicitly explained that in the article.

        • Short back and sides

          And I think what you’re missing, is that it was his addiction that made him a bad man. And for the record, I’m certainly not disputing the fact that he was a bad man, its the cause of the badness I’m debating. That and the fact that, despite his terrible behaviour, he deserved some slack because it was a result of his illness, not as a result of being a man, or rich, or conservative or white.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Addiction made him a racist, misogynist, homophobic, abusive bigot? That makes no sense. How is it that all addicts aren’t bigots?

          • Short back and sides

            No, clearly not all addicts but it impact different people in different ways, and, whether you care to admit it or not, when he hit bottom and started to work on being sober, his behaviour certainly improved, whether that was causation or correlation I don’t know but with respect, neither do you. The difference is I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt, you seem to be unwilling to do that.

          • Meghan Murphy

            What you are saying makes no sense. “Give [him] the benefit of the doubt”?? What does that mean? You think he should not be held accountable for his beliefs, behaviours, and actions because he struggles with addiction?? Again, do you think, somehow, that addiction turns people into racists and misogynists?

          • Short back and sides

            I take it you have little experience with addiction. I have, and I’ve seen addiction turn perfectly pleasant people into monsters, so yes, I do think it can. That’s the problem with addiction, you don’t know how it will impact anyone, you know, happy drunk, sad drunk, violent drunk, you probably saw them all in school.

            And, I repeat, for the short while that he was sober and not going through chemo (etc) he was a different man, doesn’t it make you wonder why?

          • Meghan Murphy

            I have more experience with addiction than you will ever know. I have been hurt by addiction, many, many times. I understand addiction. This is exactly why I don’t forgive abuse or bigotry on account of ‘addiction.’

  • Alienigena

    To those who say we should treat ‘addicts’ like Ford differently … differently from ordinary jerks? I attended a church camp (Christian Missionary Alliance) as a child. I think I was 10 years old when a male camp counselor gave his testimonial around the campfire about past sins and how he ‘came to Christ’. He said that he had reassured his fiance (she was an evangelical Christian) that he was a non-drinker but on their wedding night he took out a full bottle of some kind of hard liquor (whisky or rye or …) and taunted her with it saying that he had deceived her and could do as he liked and she would have to accept it because he was the husband. And he proceeded to drink to excess for a number of years. Being a good Christian she didn’t divorce him. I always wondered where he got the gall to assume that he wouldn’t be judged for such reprehensible behaviour. In his mind he was chosen by god, so exempt from human judgement.

    In my own defense I was not a member of the church, I had a good friend who was and she was the one who introduced me to the camp. But this story shows that the ‘rule book’ re: decent behaviour is thrown out for many people (in the past, many men) while the rest of us are expected to be non-judgemental. At the time I thought the story was a bit disturbing and the counselor was a bit weird. He went on to tell us (around the proverbial campfire again) that all prostitutes (in Las Vegas??, he was a salesman by profession and inclination) wore yellow and black. This story prompted me to ponder a) how he knew what prostitutes wore? and b) how likely it was that prostitutes wore ‘team colours’. All in all I can say that the counselor’s story led me towards my current skeptical stance on the ‘natural’ goodness of people. Or the common decency of true believers.

  • Errymomo

    thank you for bringing to light how the horror of spousal abuse knows no socio-economic boundries

  • Meghan Murphy

    It means you can’t call other commenters names or insult people because they are critical of an abusive bigot if you want your comments to be approved.

  • Jacob Mone

    The best article ever, much much better than CBC’s and other media; plain and simple, the truth.

  • Andrea Falcone

    well written….I did not know of half of this stuff, but mainly because I avoid drama and stupid news of people just trying to make the spotlight….but I too did not feel great at the fact that I wasn’t mourning him as so many were. Thank you for writing this

  • Meghan Murphy

    Sigh. I am aware you’re trolling, Nicki, so I really should just delete your comments and not respond at all, but I find you so ridiculous that it amuses me a little….
    Rob Ford was not ‘trashed’ in the article. I listed real things that he has done, said, and that he actually believes. So if that constitutes “trashing,” then I suppose Ford has trashed himself.

    • Nicki

      No, Meghan, I’m definitely NOT, ‘trolling’. I’ve read many articles on Rob Ford, and have never felt the need to comment, until now. I did not say your article trashed him, did I? I am talking about the horrible comments made (about someone’s deceased, loved one!) from people that, very likely, never knew the man. I find it repulsive. Furthermore, the only people who know if he was a good husband/father are his wife and children! You can certainly speculate, but I really don’t see the point.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Abusing one’s wife makes one not a good husband.

        • Nicki

          Agreed, but you don’t know what goes on behind doors, do you? I’m not saying he wasn’t abusive towards his wife. I just don’t know. Neither do you.

          • Meghan Murphy

            But we do know. As the cops were called to his house many times w/r/t domestic violence.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Actually, the kind of husband he was is quite well documented. I’m doubtful that his behaviour didn’t impact his children.

  • marv

    Sexism, racism and classism are systems of power that operate in a given culture. They program all of us in varying and unconscious ways. Drugs and alcohol may exacerbate the behavioural outcomes but the structural position of the person and group is at the root of oppression. Centering on the “mix of drink and medication” is ‘men’dacious and buttresses the injustices.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Teaching your children violence against women/misogyny/racism DOES make one a bad father, actually.

    • Nicki

      Let’s assume you’re correct, and he’s all of these things. Where did he learn this behaviour? His father, maybe? Does this make him a victim? We’ll never know. The point is, he did have some redeeming qualities and when people pass, most chose to remember these qualities. I believe his public downfall should be enough to satisfy those who didn’t like him.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I don’t really think his public downfall, as you call it (where? with whom? it seems he maintained many supporters), made him accountable for his beliefs and behaviours at all. All he did was deny those behaviours — he was never accountable for anything. Certainly he didn’t see a problem with his misogynistic and racist beliefs and behaviours.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Biased in what way?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Well the whole crack thing kinda also made him famous. The American media thought it was a hilarious joke. And, like, “downfall” from where? My impression is that the people in Toronto who supported him before still support him now and the people who don’t, still don’t. It’s not like his bigotry and hatred for women and the poor is anything new.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks Elizabeth.

  • c_d_k

    Try reading the article again, Nicki. Among other points:
    “Ford was charged with assaulting and threatening to kill his wife, Renata, in 2008″
    ” The police say they have received many calls from the Ford residence, related to domestic abuse.”
    This information is widely available.

    • Nicki

      Sorry, I should have said the charges were withdrawn. I am aware of the many calls, and I’m not saying he wasn’t abusive. I’m pointing out, that the only people who know what went on are the people who were involved, or witnessed it. Abuse can be a two way street. I, too, am inclined to think he did, based on the evidence, but I certainly don’t ‘know’ that.

  • will

    “Rob Ford is gone and all his family need is peace. They dont need other people like us, the outsiders, to keep on making commentary about their life.”

    So you’ve been writing to all of the major media outlets, telling them to stop talking about him?

  • dude17

    It happens often, when someone dies. People tend to gloss over all the flaws and warts, telling others “oh what a kind, generous person he/she was” even if it’s the farthest thing from the truth. Rob Ford may have had some redeeming qualities but unfortunately, his demons were often public and open for all to see and discuss.

    • jonesky

      An outdated cultural superstition that if we speak no ill of the dead, especially the ones that were worthless, hateful and abusive in life, they will not come back to haunt us. This does not appear to be working well for us as a society. It may be time we considered frightening off the ghosts of the abusers with truth.

  • Meghan Murphy

    As I mentioned in another comment, I very much do understand what addiction is and how it works. I understand the toll it takes on those close to the addict. Nonetheless, addiction does not excuse misogyny, racism, classism, or abuse. Do you truly believe Ford would have held different views about minorities and women if he weren’t an addict? I don’t.

    • mptebow

      I don’t truly believe that, no, nor can I say who he would have become in recovery. I also don’t think its his fault that he is from his family nor that he is an addict, he had no choice in those two things. His behaviour was horrible, and he is certainly responsible for everything he did in active addiction or not, but in the end he committed a slow suicide. If he were to stay in recovery and look in to his thinking and behaviour, he may have changed beyond recognition, something that happens to most recovering addicts. He may have become mortified of who he was, and lived the rest of his life trying to make up for it. But we will never know, he died very early on in his recovery. I also agree that he may not have been able to get past some of his bigoted views, but really crazy transformations of human beings happen in drug recovery. Thank you for responding, and allowing me to add this perspective. My beliefs are not specifically pro Rob Ford even if it may appear this way, but I thought this perspective was lacking so I am grateful you provided me a space to voice these thoughts. Have a great day 🙂

  • Rosemary Raycraft

    Thank you Meghan for stating the truth. How quick we are to put people like Rob Ford on a pedestal after death when that position is clearly undeserved. It amazes me what short memories people have once someone passes. Rob Ford lying in state like a true hero was so demeaning to all the women he abused and disrespected. I don’t celebrate his death or the pain his family is feeling, but I certainly won’t mourn his passing either.

  • northernTNT

    I don’t think the people of Toronto learned anything from any of the Ford family, they just keep on ticking.

  • Meghan Murphy

    No. Masculinity is a social construct. Being male is a biological and unchangeable fact, masculinity is not innate, but socialized.

    • Roberto Duhamel

      Interesting. First, your piece mostly mentioned Ford’s maleness, not masculinity. But as to your comment, it seems to me masculinity is both innate and socialized. I have heard numerous women who previously held the opinion that you espouse change their views when they had male children. It seems foolish to me to posit that traits associated with maleness are purely cultural. Behaviors in the animal kingdom, particularly among primates, back up the “nature as well as nurture” argument.

  • marv

    A white man is more likely to be mayor than a woman or person of colour so his gender and race played a huge role into putting him in power regardless if he is benevolent or abusive. You have no class analysis of gender, race and how they relate to economic privilege which is characteristic of patriarchal thinking.

  • 3.36

    Clearly the author Meghan has some wit and brains about her, but it seems that her disciples are not particularly willing to indulge other points of view. You have an interesting comment to make, and it seems perfectly valid to me, despite the backlash. I think if you want an actual debate, with all the intellectual trimmings and courtesies, you’ve come to the wrong place.

  • John Dozier

    Great article. The media should say sad to a few maybe but maybe self inflicted. Many believe and even science is now learning more about cancer being a result of peoples behavior. Rob’s passing is only a loss of a bad man that many will be thankful to see gone! What is that a bad thing to say when we all know it is true except those with their respective heads in the sand! Good good riddance Rob!

  • John Dozier

    Great article! Good riddance Rob!!

  • The_Great_Putzini

    Great article. If someone’s 90% a horrible person, memorializing the 10% that was not horrible only serves to eclipse the entirety of the person. You had me at “Trump-lite”.