John Cook has succeeded in raising $200 000. The Gawker editor’s worldwide campaign to raise funds to obtain the supposed video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack from Somali drug dealers reached its target earlier this week. But is Gawker tossing more mud than there already is?
True, the scandal surrounding Ford’s supposed crack use has not only springboarded Canada, or at least Toronto, onto the world stage, but it has brought us into the realm of The Running Man‘s dystopian reality. Canadian politics has long been insulated from the vulgarities of US style vice scandals. But it would appear death by media for public amusement has now arrived.
Further investigation into the Ford clan’s sordid history uncovered the operation of a high stakes narcotics trafficking ring in “Etobi-’coke’ North.” The report sheds light on associates including Klan leaders, a black belt martial artist and a Caribbean drug dealer involved in a bizarre foiled coup of the Dominican government, details so sensational it makes the Charbonneau Commission seem like a search for lost pocket change.
Ford’s improprieties may have hoisted Canada into the political hall of shame, an arena typically occupied by American politicians like Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, but is Gawker’s campaign is human degradation profiteering pure and simple.
Their campaign drive fancies itself a crusade for “truth” and an exercise of “democracy.” Since Gawker cannot afford it themselves, Cook asked people to take money from their own pockets to give to drug dealers.
Cook asserts that if people wish to view the video, by paying for it, they are exercising their rights as consumers. In other words, contributing money translates into a “vote.”
After taking money from the public, instead of submitting the alleged video to the authorities, Gawker intends to charge users a member’s fee at Gawker.com and at private screening parties they plan to host, with popcorn and swag to boot. Gawker will directly profit from the Ford video, meaning Cook will have completely corrupted the “democratic” process. Those without money are without a voice, they are excluded from so-called “voting” which proliferates a perverse US notions that money equals speech.
It seems that Gawker can no longer reach their original source for the video, but even if the footage can be obtained, what does it mean besides profits for the website?
Under Toronto’s system, City Council cannot eject Ford from office nor could it force an early election. The video could, at best, be damning circumstantial evidence at trial. It would hardly be hard proof guaranteeing Ford’s conviction.
Until the next municipal election, true democracy in action, only Rob Ford can remove Rob Ford. And if the mayor’s profile history is any indication, Ford would not resign under any circumstances.
If definitive proof indeed can be presented that Mayor Ford inhaled crack, Ford should not be tried at the hands of the media with the pubic circus acting as judge, jury and executioner.
Partisanship, pre-determined and emotional disdain of Ford would best be checked. Vigilantism with its non-transparent and potentially unaccountable wrongful actions cannot suffice as substitute justice.
Critics espousing public accountability and transparency in executive, legislative and municipal government cannot exclude themselves. One cannot have their cake and eat it too.
There is no inherit benefit in viewing smut footage only to confirm minds already made up. Like the Jun Lin snuff video, we are all degraded just from watching it.
Ford may have diminished Toronto public office and Canadian politics but watching the alleged video, even just demanding to see it, makes us, along with Ford, unclean and corrupt.