When fire breathing tough-on-crimers like Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford start speaking the language of compassion, understanding and “the past is in the past” and hoping that “nobody has to go through what I have gone through” we continue to see how the war on drugs is a sham. Rob Ford was using the words of compassion and understanding yesterday but his actions are cloaked in the narcissist’s belief that his needs and desires are more important than everyone else’s.
Rob Ford, who since this entire sorry crack video scandal erupted earlier this year, has called the media liars and questioned the motives of the police, the left, and basically anyone who isn’t a citizen of Ford Nation. That fact that Rob Ford has bathed himself in lies yet sees no hilarity in his declaration, “that he’s got nothing left to hide” is surely some freakish hard-core manifestation of narcissism.
Rob Ford claims that he’s changed. He wishes this experience on no one. Does this mean he will stop with his “hug-a-thug” rhetoric and stop spewing his tough on crime nonsense? But seriously, who (other than his loyal brother Doug) would believe anything that comes out of his mouth?
As a leader of the tough-on-crime crowd, Rob Ford bought into the “cede no quarter” philosophy regarding drug users and drug dealers. “Hug-a-thug” is their knee-jerk response line to any measure, law, attitude or philosophy that doesn’t advocate coming down hard on drug use and giving the police all the necessary tools to fight the bad guys, Charter rights be damned. Mandatory minimum sentences are a must. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Short sharp sentences for first offenders and longer more severe penalties for repeat offenders. Oh and don’t forget deterrence. The tough–on-crimers must be gnashing their teeth today now that one of their own has just told the world that if you just promise you won’t break the law again that you’ve sufficiently deterred yourself. Deterrence indeed! This reminds me of the parole board scene from Raizing Arizona:
Parole Board chairman: They’ve got a name for people like you H.I. That name is called “recidivism.”
Parole Board member: Repeat offender!
Parole Board chairman: Not a pretty name, is it H.I.?
H.I.: No, sir. That’s one bonehead name, but that ain’t me any more.
Parole Board chairman: You’re not just telling us what we want to hear?
H.I.: No, sir, no way.
Parole Board member: ‘Cause we just want to hear the truth.
H.I.: Well, then I guess I am telling you what you want to hear.
Parole Board chairman: Boy, didn’t we just tell you not to do that?
H.I.: Yes, sir.
Parole Board chairman: Okay, then.
Torontonians now have the comical situation of the mayor calling for the firing of a city employee who was “sleeping” on the job even as he’s saying he gets to keep his job despite using crack cocaine while collecting his city of Toronto paycheque. Rob Ford has decided that he gets to keep the job he loves and if any of Toronto’s the citizens have a problem with that well, too bad. See how that works? Of course you do.
But let’s consider other people who get caught up in the war on drugs. Think of the police raids that net found-ins, people who happened to be at a location where drugs were located. They get charged, get to do perp walks and spend the night in jail. They have to hire lawyers for bail hearings and then get placed on ridiculously stringent bail conditions that would preclude them from keeping their job as, oh I don’t know mayor of Toronto and who would certainly be prohibited from shifting their boozing ways to their basement. These raids are usually followed by press conferences and speeches from the leaders of the tough-on-crime crowd righteously talking about birds of a feather flocking together and other nuggets like, “why else would a person be at drug house unless he’s a dealer or a user?” Think of the sermons about how if you want to understand the real man look at the company he keeps. Think of snappy comebackers like, “if you’ve got nothing to hide then why wouldn’t you talk to the police?”
But Rob Ford’s lucky. He’s lucky he wasn’t arrested during a raid at that crack house. He’s lucky he didn’t have to spend the night in jail. He’s lucky he dodged the draconian house arrest conditions increasingly found on drug bails. He’s lucky he gets to make his case for understanding and compassion while alluding to the frailties of the human condition in the court of public opinion rather than to his prison cellmates. He’s lucky that he and his city councilor brother can malign the motives of Toronto Police Service Chief Bill Blair to a throng of reporters and have the police chief immediately respond rather than going through the “formal police complaints process.”
But the question is, do Torontonians deserve a mayor who by day lectures them that drug dealers and gangsters are ruining the city’s neighbourhoods and by night slinks around those same neighbourhoods looking for his next hit?
So good for Rob Ford who said that, in admitting his crack use, he threw a thousand pound weight off his back. He said he feels a lot better. Too bad he didn’t care where that weight landed.