The Cinderblock Coliseum of #TOpoli

Casualties of the near-violent encounter between Mayor Rob Ford and Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale include both public discourse and the practice of politics in our city.

Arguments will continue on both sides about the details of the incident, as they should, but regardless of who emerges the winner before the law or the court of public opinion, a social stink bomb has gone off in our city.

In one corner of the ring we have the embodiment of stereotypical masculine traits in Mayor Ford. His response to discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance or even dismay is to behave violently or at least aggressively against the irritant. His supporters cheer, for after all, he is a man protecting his wife and children. Never mind that they weren’t under immediate threat, a man’s home is his castle.

In the other corner, we have a reporter who was afraid when threatened. He tried conversation and de-escalation, non-violent means we ask boys to use in the schoolyard every day. “Use your words, not your fists,” we tell them. And what happens to him? Ridiculed on Twitter for being less than a man, because of course a man has to respond with this fists. Thankfully, some commentators have already delivered constructive and scathing critiques of this ridicule.

This whole situation would be almost tragi-comic did it not involve the top elected figure in our city on the one hand, and a reporter charged exercising his profession on the other. The incident poisons the well of what should be a civil relationship, even while it may grow tense at times, given the high stakes of politics. We know now that the macho posturing will continue, right into future press scrums.

And what of the participation of women in this arena?

Informed debate on issues, even clashes in point of view, are acceptable to the courageous women who put their names on the ballot. So far, I haven’t heard of one cocking a fist at an opponent. Today, however, politics looks fit only for gladiators. Can women be blamed for their reluctance to run for office?

  -Anonymous #WiTOpoli contributor

1 thought on “The Cinderblock Coliseum of #TOpoli

  1. The amount of coverage this whole farce has received is absurd. Can’t we just see this for what it is? Our inestimable Mayor was quietly seeking to violate the ethics, yet again, of his office. He wants a piece of land, next to his house, that lies in the Nature Conservancy of Toronto. Anyone who wants to can go there and look. It’s ever so obvious what he was up to. Daniel appearing out there, announced loud and clear, the jig was up. He was not angry and out of control because he feared for the safety of his family. He was pissed because he knew his dream of a bigger house had just ended. See it for what it is. The Star caught him in conduct unbecoming the chain he so loves to wear.
    The heat Daniel has taken for his absolutely right reactions is as embarassing as the mayors behaviour. But I suspect he knows that no matter what he did that awful evening he would be pilloried by a certain element of our fair city. An element that desperately needs to be put in their place. This man we currently call mayor is a lightening rod for these “big” men. It’s up to us to draw the rest away and teach them the better way. Hell, we need to teach them that the better way is not necessarily what we say but it is fair and honest discourse with the assurance that no lies will be told.

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