Measuring Failure in Measurable Terms

Analyzing the NDP’s long-term potential might be the key to determining its leader’s future.

"I can fit the NDP's increase in vote share in the palm of my hand."

On Twitter yesterday, after going on a long-ish tear about a piece Neil MacDonald wrote about rape culture for the CBC and my distaste for the intellectually crippling effects of nostalgia on baby boomers, I switched gears and starting talking about the NDP’s fortunes, or possible lack thereof.

The prevailing wisdom among journalists and columnists is that the NDP lost very badly. Not only did the (once and future) 3rd party, which held the balance of power in the 40th Parliament of Ontario, trigger an election by rejecting a bespoke budget, they also apparently pivoted to the right, bungled the campaign, alienated good chunks of their base and transformed themselves from power brokers to has-beens.

Some of these points are more debatable than others. Yes, the NDP did trigger an election the electorate didn’t (at the time) seem to want, and yes they rejected a budget that was essentially written on orange paper. But sparingly discussed is the cost to the NDP of being a power broker too long, when people may eventually only see them as kickstand, and kickstands don’t become governments.

As to the bungling of the campaign, I think all 3 parties ran pretty lacklustre, amateurish campaigns. Who thought “What Leadership Is” was a killer slogan? Who thought repeating “Makes Sense” a zillion times could make up for the absence of a platform, sensible or otherwise? And the Million Jobs fiasco? More that enough has been said about its cynical lunacy.

But what about the contention that the NDP lost a good chunk of their base and that the loss of those votes might banish the NDP to the hinterland? Does that prove out? I wondered about that…

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Mansplaining Men to Men

The news of yet another mass shooting in the United States, this time in California, and the rantings of the misogynist demon accused of committing the crime, revived a debate on Twitter between those who make broad and defensible generalizations about men, and those who don’t like being lumped in with the vicious fuckers who commit countless acts rape, spousal abuse, sexual assault, emotional assault, physical violence, stalking, harassment, and murder, to name just a few of crimes visited upon women every minute of every day.

This collision of the frequently abused and the easily offended has created the phrase, “not all men”.

Here’s an example…

Woman: “I don’t have to protect myself from rape, men have to stop raping.”

Man: “Hey, not all men rape. I’ve never committed rape in my life.”

Woman: “The vast majority of rapes are committed by men. Men need to deal with that shit.”

Man: “Making generalizations doesn’t exactly help your credibility. #NotAllMen”

If you’re a guy who’s never raped, killed, assaulted, demeaned, or in any other way abused or violated a woman, the subject of any generalization about the violence men visit upon women is not you. Do you love and respect the women in your life? Good you you, bucko. Just keep on keeping on, it’s not about you.

And you don’t have an obligation to defend males, either in small groups (Canadian Men!, Toronto Men!) or large ones (All Men, Everywhere!). As we just discussed, you, me and all the other men who don’t commit atrocities against women now know that women aren’t talking about us. The men who are being referenced are evil shit-eating motherfuckers who neither deserve, nor would appreciate the spirited defence you were about to kick off with that “not all men” line.

With so many vile men out there, it’s understandable that women might choose to speak in generalities rather than taking the time to identify the innumerable strata of men, which range from pretty good to fucking awful, with all degrees of despicable found in between.

But we don’t have to worry about that; we members of the “not about us” club can join in a modest, but not over-long bit of self-congratulation for our general decency toward women. (And “General decency” is about as far as we should go with the self-congratulating. Unless you’ve never talked down to, or discounted the opinion of a female co-worker, or presumed familiarity where it didn’t exist? Instead of taking offence, why not take stock.)

We men run the entire world, make most of the rules and change them regularly to suit our tastes. Even day labourers without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of have integral advantages over most, if not all women. Men do not need reinforcement, gender takes care of that for us.

As Superman’s nephew said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. So just because you aren’t the topic of this conversation doesn’t mean you can sit on your ass and allow the women you supposedly love and cherish be abused; and statistically some or all of the women close to you will suffer some abuse in their lifetimes. A sickeningly high number of rapes and other assaults go unreported because the woman who’s been assaulted doesn’t think she’ll be believed. If you want to stay on the good side of this thing, you gotta earn that shit.

Finally, if you find yourself taking potshots at people for making generalizations about men when, seemingly, those same people resist generalizations about themselves, just go back to the top and re-read this whole thing. You haven’t got it yet. Give it time, though. You’ll get there, sport.

Edited: May 25th, 2014…when you write in the middle of the night, typos will happen.

The #voteTO Candidate Power Rankings – May 5, 2014

In what should be a regular feature on the site, but probably won’t because I’m awful at updating consistently, here are this week’s Toronto Municipal Election Candidate Power Rankings…

MAJOR PLAYERS
Serious Candidate: David Soknacki (Policy Serious), Olivia Chow (Front-runner Serious)
Joke Candidates: Karen Stintz, John Tory
Not In On The Joke Candidate: Sarah Thomson
Rob Ford: Rob Ford
Alternate Rob Ford: Doug Ford, Don Andrews

HONOURABLE MENTIONS
Deserves More Attention: Morgan Baskin
Deserves Less Attention: Ari Goldkind
Most Twitter Accounts: Kevin Clarke

 

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.

Listen to

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

Build it, jerks!

Thursday’s Globe and Mail will bring another in a recent trend of thin arguments in favour of reasonably debatable development projects, written by Marcus Gee.

In his latest, Gee, who has recently used his column to attack critics of the Bathurst St. Walmart project and the island airport expansion, has turned his sights on anyone who dares ask irritatingly detailed questions about the Mirvish/Gehry project, a set of 3 super-massive towers, complete with a truly Gehry-esque crumple of newspaper at the bottom, proposed for the northeast corner of King and John. The project, which would include an art gallery/tax write-off (something dutifully noted by anyone writing in favour of the project), would, in it’s currently proposed form, require the demolition of a number of heritage buildings, as well as the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Writing with exactly the right level of exasperation, Gee bemoans Toronto’s small-mindedness and nitpicking, the sum of which he describes as “pettifogging”. (One suspects he wrote the entire column just to have a chance to use the word pettifogging, thinking it might make him sound Conrad Black-ish.) Not only does Gee think the City of Toronto is making life too hard for Messrs Mirvish and Gehry, he also tries to convince us that the specific concerns with the project, as raised by Toronto’s planning staff, are frivolous.

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Moving Forward(?)

 

In the past week, much of the world’s press (and most of America’s comedians) has been, in some way, focused on the movements and machinations of the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. And who can blame them? Taking your eyes off Ford, even for a second, risks missing something huge. But keeping a constant vigil can be a tricky proposition, especially with a loose cannon like Ford; when you’re paying attention, he disappoints, when you’re caught off guard, he drops bombshells. So it was this week when Ford strolled off a public elevator, not through his customary, protected back-door office entrance and, after playing the world’s strangest version of Jeopardy, finally owned up to smoking crack cocaine.

However, later that same day, Ford did a rope-a-dope and called a hotly anticipated press conference wherein he gave the most selfish speech in political history, simultaneously disappointing everyone and surprising no one. On the odd occasion when Ford bothered to mention the city he’s been chaotically destroying for 3 years, it was only in the context of his personal ambitions and desires. He hoped no one would have to go through what he’s gone through; he professed his love for his job; he expressed relief that this embarrassing chapter of his life was coming to an end. As baffling as it was galling, Ford once again proclaimed that he would go on doing the job he’d been elected to do (that he hasn’t really been doing for almost 2 years) and rejected calls for his resignation. Rob Ford, come hell or high water, would stay on as Mayor of Toronto.

I detailed my visceral reaction to the self-serving campaign launch scam that Ford pulled on the people and press of Toronto here.

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You Gotta Blame The Thing Up Here

Rob Ford greets well-wishers. (Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

If you follow Toronto politics closely enough, you might have started October 31st thinking it would be spent skimming hundreds of pages of court documents in a rushed attempt to be the first kid on your block to piece together the possible involvement of Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, in the drug-dealing, violent life of his close associate, Sandro Lisi. How wrong you were.

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