For those of you who don’t know about the billboard, it is one of those public appearances that made a brief appearance in defence of our now infamous mayor when all this alleged activity started. I’ve been intending on writing a post about it for some time, but just haven’t had time. I’ve had my own experiences with billboards, as described last year (Bowles, 2012). I think that such a display tells a lot about the authors: and this one is no exception.
Timeliness: The billboard in support of Mr. Ford appeared at a busy intersection on November 8th (Globe and Mail, 2013) just as the revelations about the mayor were beginning. In that sense it was very timely, and I’m sure very encouraging to the man who was under so much pressure. However, it lasted less than 24 hours: although my experience with such billboards is that they’re usually paid for by the week. No matter the reason, the support of the authors was just a “flash in the pan” before it disappeared.
Anonymity: When we did our billboard, one of the most difficult things about it was that it was not only not anonymous, but it had my picture front and centre. (This was actually my “coming out” to some of my acquaintances as a gay man.) For me it was important that I stand behind my words. Apparently those who wrote this billboard, backing Rob Ford, did not feel that their names were significant; indeed, they hid behind the City of Toronto’s logo, so we have no idea who the authors were. I suppose we could have pursued it… but what would have been the point? Like many aspects of “Ford Nation”, the power is hidden in the dark recesses of the city and does not want to be seen.
Misspelling: The tag of the logo was incorrect, “Ford = Fiscal Responsiblity” (sic). Enough has been said in this regard across social media that is more effective than anything I could write (Globe & Mail, 2013)
Lawlessness: Indirectly related to the above misspelling, I find it so ironic that many who are so conservative in some respects have no difficulty skirting and even breaking of the law. Using the logo of the City of Toronto, particularly in this context, is a complete violation of copyright law. (The billboard’s owner should have known that; I wonder if that tells us anything regarding the “anonymity”?) So they break the law of the land, and then expect us to honour their interpretation of the law of the Bible. Much like Mr. Ford, “Ford Nation” is more interested in laws that will save them money (or make them money) than in laws that are singularly inconvenient. And protect other people’s money.
Conveniently Religious: Quoting a Bible verse out of context, without interpretation except for what they deem is obvious, is a typical tactic of the “conveniently religious”. These are men and women who hold strongly to Biblical (or other Scriptural) authority when it comes to beneficial interpretations (authority & submission, obedience, tithing, control, maintaining the status quo), yet completely fail with regard to the underlying goals of different faiths (self-understanding, reflection, loving those who are different, peace, social unity). The actual interpretation deserves a post of its own, to follow.
I read a lot about Mr. Ford’s popularity and being treated as a rock star (Globe & Mail, 2013). I have to admit it rather turns my stomach (and I also know that Ford Nation is quite happy with that). But I really think that kind of activity is much more reflective of a “mob mentality” than an honest opinion. To quote one of the people who commented on that article (who, in turn, admitted that the comment had been stolen from someone else): “Rob Ford is like a drunk girl at Mardi Gras that has everybody yelling at her to take her top off and when she does she thinks all the hooting and hollering is because everybody thinks she’s smart and pretty.”