Tag Archives: scandal

Rob Ford needs a speech writer

I was never one to go out for politics. As a young adult, I never voted, primarily because I had no idea what was going on. Politics were boring and I never cared to pay attention. Politics—Canadian politics in particular—w ere, quite frankly, never worth following.

Until recently.

Before I continue, it must be said that I don’t live in Toronto. As a citizen of Vaughan—and by extension, Ontario—and as Toronto is the capital of Ontario, Toronto politics nevertheless affect me. In addition, all of the local media I monitor is Toronto based. And the Toronto-based media (as well as some American-based) has recently been abuzz with the antics of Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Has, in fact, been saturated with it this past week.

For those of you who are unaware, Rob Ford has been the centre of much controversy in the past year, with accusations ranging from misappropriating a Toronto Transit Commission bus on the city dollar to shelter the high school football team he coached, to inappropriate use of funds in his campaign, to appearing in public drunk and disorderly, making inappropriate and unwanted sexual passes at partygoers. As the icing on this week’s cake, a video has surfaced, purporting to document Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine with drug dealers. The owners of the video want $200,000 for the file. They showed it to The Toronto Star who declined to purchase it as they do not pay for news stories. The gossip tabloid website Gawker.com is currently in the process of raising the money for the purchase.

After spending a week in which he remained mum to the media, Mr. Ford finally spoke today in a forty-some-odd second speech in which he made the following statements: “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine…I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or that does not exist. It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I have been judged by the media without evidence” (Gillis).

Within a half an hour after broadcasting Mayor Ford’s speech on CBC Radio One, a spokesperson from Gawker was interviewed in which he argued that Mr. Ford did not deny any of the allegations. He accused him of pussyfooting around the accusations. His reasoning goes something like this:

1.       “I do not use crack cocaine” means he does not currently use crack cocaine. It does not address his use of the substance in the past six months.

2.       “nor am I an addict of crack cocaine” means he is not currently an addict because  he does not currently use it. Heavy emphasis on the word “currently”.

3.       “I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen” does not refute the existence of such a video.

4.       “or that does not exist” leaves the possibility open that a video may exist, but not one that Mr. Ford has ever seen.

The spokesperson went on to insist both he and two Toronto Star reporters confirmed the identification of Mr. Ford as the subject of the video.

I did some research on Mr. Ford. Wikipedia reports he completed one year of post-secondary education at Carleton University (Rob). Because I know there is a question about the validity of Wikipedia, I searched other sources as well. The Star reports he quit two credits short of a degree (Rider). Macleans reports the only thing known for sure about Mr. Ford’s post-secondary education is that he attended Carleton between 1989 and 1990 and later attended York University, taking  courses through distance education from 1990 to 1991 (Jerema). The implication in all online sources is that he listed his years in attendance at a post-secondary institution on his mayoral application as if to gloss over the fact that he didn’t graduate.  

I mention this because I don’t think Mayor Ford’s speech today was a way for him to dance around the subject of whether or not he had a drug problem, or whether, as his recently fired chief of staff, Mark Towhey apparently suggested, he needed to “go away and get help” (Strashin). I think his speech was a denial of accusations written by a man under a great deal of stress who, pressed by the media and his staff to make a statement, neglected to hire himself a proof-reader before reading his statement.

Speaking as a teacher of English who just came from a half-hour discussion in which she tried to explain to a student the nuances between explaining evidence and giving its significance, many people, untrained in writing a series of cohesive paragraphs, neglect to proofread to ensure a connection is made between the point they are trying to prove and their thesis. Consider the following statements:

1.       “I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine” – how can you be an addict of crack cocaine if you do not use crack cocaine? This statement suffers from redundant phrases bordering on circular reasoning. “I am not an addict of crack cocaine, nor have I ever used crack cocaine” would put an immediate end to the speculation.

2.       “I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or that does not exist” should have been worded “I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen and that does not exist.” The use of “or” instead of “and”, confusion of conjunctions, is a common mistake in writers who have not studied the English language.

3.       “It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I have been judged by the media without evidence.” This, to me, is further proof that the only thing Mr. Ford is guilty of is scribbling out his assignment the night before it is due without leaving himself enough time to proofread it. What he means, I think, is “It is most unfortunate that my colleagues and the people of this great city have been forced to endure my being judged in the media, considering the media’s lack of evidence.”

Mr. Ford is not trying to hem and haw his way through this accusation as the media contends he did when reporting his educational background. Instead, he rushed his speech, writing it himself without stopping to give it to a professional for editing, and wound up striking the blow that broke the lock on his personal Pandora’s box.

Works Cited

Jerema, Carson. Rob Ford dropped out of university. How dare he? Macleans On Campus. 22 December 2010. <oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2010/12/22/rob-ford-dropped-out-of-university-how-dare-he/> 24 May 2013.

Rider, David. Rob Ford’s confusing university life. The Star. 21 December 2010. <www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2010/12/21/rob_fords_confusing_university_life.html> 24 May 2013.

Rob Ford. Wikipedia. 22 May 2013. <en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Ford> 24 May 2013.

Strashin, Jamie. Rob Ford fired chief of staff for telling mayor to ‘get help’. CBC News: Toronto. 23 May 2013. <www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/05/23/toronto-ford-towhey.html> 24 May 2013.

Gillis, Wendy, Paul Moloney, Daniel Dale. Rob Ford’s video scandal: ‘I do not use crack cocaine,’ mayor says. 24 May 2013. <read.thestar/#!/article/519f793e8e492dd36c1a1-rob-ford-s-video-scandal-i-do-not-use-crack-cocaine-mayor-says> 24 May 2013.

Graphic from http://hcp2010.physics.utoronto.ca/toronto_night_skyline.jpg

About the Author

Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!

The Anti-hero

I love Dexter, be it reading Jeff Lindsay’s novels or watching the television series. It was weird at first, rooting for the bad guy, but the more I read/watched, the more I realized that “bad” had shades of grey. Lately, many shows feature protagonists who are more anti-hero than hero. Take ABC’s Once Upon a Time, for example. It’s no secret that my favourite character on that show is Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, a man who killed his wife, chopped a man’s hand off, held a woman hostage, and beat an old man with his cane, twice. Through it all, I root for him. I feel the loss of his son, the anguish in his love affair with Belle, the plunging psyche as he picked up the remains of his prized possession, the chipped cup, from the hospital floor. Scandal is another example. Olivia and her team have murdered, stolen, and lied. Olivia herself is in an affair with a married man and was involved in rigging votes in the last presidential election. Is it wrong to want to see her and Fitz together? To want Fitz to remain blind to her conspiracy? To want Mellie to die in childbirth? To love Cyrus for calling off the gun for hire he’d paid to murder his own husband to keep the secret buried?

For two weeks now, I’ve been watching FX’s The Americans. The premise is intriguing: Russian spies carrying out covert missions while posing as the all American family. As I watched this week’s episode, I questioned my interest in the show. Talk about anti-heroes? Elizabeth and Phillip pose as heads of a nuclear family, living out the American Dream in their house in the suburbs with their son and daughter. Last week, they used their garage to store the spy that raped Elizabeth during her training in the trunk of their car. This week, Elizabeth poisoned an innocent college student and the two blackmailed his mother for the cure. Elizabeth played the nurse to the boy while Phillip beat up the uncle, broke his hand, strong-armed the mother, and nearly suffocated the boy to get what he wanted, which was for the mother to plant a bug in a politician’s office. As I watched, I thought, “How horrible. I don’t even think I like these characters.” Then Phillip sat in his car after suffocating the boy and nearly cried while Elizabeth consoled him. I won’t say I root for him as I do Dexter, but I think I watch to put together the glimpses of humanity. So long as the gruesome brutality is balanced with the humanity, I may continue to watch.

I am no stranger to television brutality. Shows like True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and Walking Dead are full of it, but the macabre is acceptable, almost expected, given that the characters are vampires and werewolves and hunters and zombies and just trying to survive. Shows like this don’t bother me much. What I find horrific is when the monsters are human, drawing blood for nothing more than the horror of it. Dexter, I understand. He witnessed his mother brutally murdered in front of him as a toddler. Dexter’s impulses are born of blood. He knows what he does is wrong. Unable to quash his compulsion, he has found a way to control it instead, killing only those who deserve to be killed. Not the same for Joe Carroll on Fox’s The Following, who gets others to kill for him a la Charles Manson. I can’t figure out why he does what he does other than the fact that he can. American Horror Story is another show that pushes the blood-soaked threshold, but it does so with a subtle irony and hidden horror stereotype allusions that elevate it from horrific bloodbath to interestingly compelling.

The line between good and evil has blurred for the traditional superhero types as well. Gone are the days in which the hero does good both in and out of their costumes, like Batman or Superman. Today’s heroes fall nothing short of human. This week’s Arrow, for example, showed Oliver brutalizing his own mother for answers. On Person of Interest, Detective Carter often bends and/or breaks the law to save Reese and Finch. Even the president of the United States is not exempt—this week’s Scandal saw Fitz murder Verna in her hospital bed to prevent the jury tampering secret from getting out. Gone are the days of good and evil, of black and white; welcome to the days of anti-heroism and shades of grey.  

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!