They aren't the usual types you'd expect to menace someone over political expression. One of them is a middle-aged suburban housewife, the mother of two daughters, who hasn't done a day of real (i.e. paid) work in fifteen years. The other, younger, is an extremely, almost exaggeratedly, feminine single High School Art teacher. Making it even more surprising was that, in both cases, the discussion about Rob Ford was initiated by them. I learned long ago not to raise the subject of Ford with people whose outlook may differ from mine, since his name evokes seething hysteria from some people.
But still, I thought threatening to kill me was a bit much.
In all fairness, the threats, made by the two women with whom I have been friends for many years, but to my knowledge have never met each other, were not meant literally. At least, so I hope.
|How could anyone not like this guy?|
Intriguingly, not only the death threats, but responses to questions I posed to these very different women were almost identical.
When I asked the women how they could be so certain of what they considered Ford's malfeasance, and how 'terrible' a mayor he was, the response from both was that it was because of things they read in The Toronto Star. As it was, their opinion about Ford was shaped by Star editorials as much as by that newspaper's slanted reporting.
My response that The Star wasn't really a credible source about Ford and that it had printed demonstrable lies about him just agitated them further.
A big part of their anger was that Ford was a so-called "embarrassment" and "Toronto has become a laughing stock." Unfortunately, I've encountered that reaction from a number of people before and it's borne of a particular type of bizarre insecurity. Sure, Ford's alleged "crack" scandal has made the news in North America and beyond. But does anyone who isn't prey to this weird pathology really think people in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo are dwelling on anything going on in Toronto, let alone what's its mayor may or may not be doing?
Pointing out to them that their lives haven't been genuinely altered by that perception not only didn't seem to alleviate their anger, but made it worse.
But let's look at another example. Yesterday, news broke that Montreal's mayor was arrested on charges related to fraud and civic corruption. Contrast that with the unproven allegations about Rob Ford made by unnamed sources related entirely to his personal behavior outside of his work as mayor.
Are Montrealers, other than a few sad, chronic whiners, going about saying how "ashamed" they are to be from that city? Of course not. If anything, it's the opposite.
Whether there's something about Quebec culture that's superior to Ontario's and gives them enough security to not continually obsess over what others think of them, I couldn't say. But it does highlight a pathetic trait of far too many Torontonians who do.
When railing against what a terrible mayor Ford was, I asked a simple question to the two women, both of whom are financially comfortable. The question infuriated them.
"Name one thing that Ford has done or is responsible for, something that you've seen with your own eyes or has involved you personally, that has in any tangible way affected you negatively?"
That really got them flustered. They both have "heard of things" that they couldn't actually verify and "knew" how Ford was "destroying Toronto" without being able to factually identify how.
So stymied, both of them, these two lovely, normally kind women, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday, said I can't say anything more about Rob Ford or they would kill me.
Maybe it's a woman thing. After the second instance on Monday, I spoke about it to my most recent ex-girlfriend, who lives just outside Toronto and with whom I am still on very friendly terms.
"Hey, L*** just threatened to kill me!" I complained on the phone.
In a blatant display of victim-blaming, my ex responded, "What did you do to her?"
"I didn't do anything! I was just saying nice things about Rob Ford and she threatened to kill me!"
"It was probably your fault."
"What do you mean it was my fault!? I don't go around being violent or threatening anyone. I just explained how Rob Ford is a good mayor who is being unfairly maligned and she threatened to kill me! So did another woman I know on Saturday for the same reason!"
"It was still probably your fault."
That's what things are like these days. You can be innocently walking around the city and some nut case will pelt an orange slushie at you, or sitting on a restaurant patio discussing urban affairs and the next thing you know, your companion is threatening to murder you. And only because you support a municipal politician committed to a small government that is responsible to taxpayers
It's a good thing I don't believe in stereotypes or conspiracies. Because if I did, I'd think this is all down to a bunch of women who like spending money and are out to eliminate people who believe in fiscal accountability.