Ford, the Press, and the 12th Man

The news business is a business, and businesses have to find ways to make money. Obvious as that may be, I regularly have to remind myself that as honest, intrepid and incorruptible as the members of the City Hall Press Gallery may be, they are, in the summation, agents of competing, for-profit businesses.

And those businesses are, inarguably, having a rough go. Every month we’re told that readership is down, ads are down, jerks on the internet won’t pay, and the end is nigh. All of that is probably true, which is why Rob Ford is, for people in news, especially print news, manna from Heaven. Ford is, without a doubt, the best thing to happen to the news business in Toronto, ever. Ever.

It’s no wonder the press wants to keep Ford in office. The Mayor is a one-man headline-writing machine. Even in the pre-crack days, he was always saying or doing something newsworthy. Remember when the silliest thing Rob did was flip the bird at other drivers? How about the time he was reading documents while plowing down the Gardiner? Oh, the good old days. Of course we know now he was probably either stoned off his ass or drunk as fuck in those incidents, but we were more innocent then. They Mayor was just a dangerous lunatic, not a dangerous drug-addled, drunken lunatic. Simpler times.

Now that we’ve been dropped into the crater of a post-crack world, Ford has gone from being good for the news business to being the news business. Policy? What’s that? Votes at Council? Only important in the context of Rob and/or Doug’s looney position on a given matter. For the last 2 years, at least, the daily schedule at City Hall has broken down, roughly, like this:

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Letter to Q, re: Rape Culture Debate

There are, I think, two things to consider when choosing to air something like today’s Q panel regarding rape culture: first, are we addressing an important issue, or talking around it? Second, will the contrasting ideas that might be presented move the conversation forward? In my view, your debate failed on both counts. Debating the existence of rape culture is a lazy way of being seen to talk about something important without actually having to address its ugly causes and tragic results.

Sexual assault does exist on college campuses, sexual assaults continue to go overwhelmingly unreported, and we, as a culture, freely joke about prison rape, as though it’s somehow justified and thus, less heinous. This is indicative of a culture takes rape seriously only in principle (“Rape is bad!”) but not in practice (“You shouldn’t have dressed like that.”). A show, such as yours, that claims to present progressive content, as any arts program must, should have the good sense to avoid discussing the existence of something they is regularly and tragically proven to exist.

Women aren’t sexually assaulted because they walk through parking lots and men aren’t blameless because they get drunk; rather these are symptoms of a culture that consistent fails to act to protect victims and punish rapists. A national broadcaster should strongly consider the implications of handing over its broad forum to regressive ideas about the cause and prevention of rape, ideas like those presented on your program today by Heather MacDonald.

Your debate failed to directly address an issue of great social importance, and Jian, in his role as moderator, failed to guide the debate away from dangerous generalizations (“If rape culture existed, parents wouldn’t put their kids in school!”) and back toward a meaningful discussion that advanced our understanding of our culture’s shameful disregard for the victims of rape.

However well intentioned you might have been in presenting this piece, the end result was a disservice to women and a discredit to the show.

Yours,

Joshua Hind
Toronto

Return of the Action Items

I was in Montreal this past week and I contacted the wonderful people who are now hosting my old radio show, The Friday Morning After, to find out if they wouldn’t mind me sitting in on the show. Well, turns out they not only didn’t mind but wondered if I would do 20 minutes on something. I chose 4 somethings.

Sit back and listen to my very rusty radio delivery. Oh, and find out about the oil sector writing curriculum in Alberta, the feds imposing lifetime gag orders, and a quick chat about electoral sign defacement. That stuff is important too.

http://www.joshuahind.com/Audio/ActionItems_2014-MAR-17.mp3

For more information on the Morning After shows, go to www.ckut.ca