I don’t know a whole lot about crack. For example, I don’t even know if crack and crack cocaine and cocaine are three different drugs, or a combination of two drugs, or what they do to a person, exactly. Regardless of what I don’t know about the drug(s), however, there are a few things I’m pretty sure I do know.
At the top of the list is the fact that I don’t think it makes people misogynistic. The way Rob Ford talks about women – his wife, his colleagues, his opponents – is hateful. It is not flippant or rude or off-side. It is full of hate. And yet, women will vote for him. They will accept the substance abuse as an excuse and they will vote for him, either because they are uninformed or because they have a vested financial interest in seeing him remain in power. This is incredible to me. The City of Toronto fired 3 firefighters over sexist tweets and Facebook posts last year and, yet, the man at the helm has spewn and propagated far worse to a much wider audience without consequence. Women of Toronto: If anyone, let alone a leader in your community, said this or this about you, your sister, your daughter, your mother or your best friend, would you honestly just laugh it off? Worse yet, would you reward him with an understanding shake of the head and all the power he could ever hope to hold? Rob Ford’s vile and sometimes criminal mistreatment of women has not been brought on by his addiction. It has simply been illuminated.
I also highly doubt that crack suddenly makes people homophobic. Based on Rob Ford’s consistency with respect to his boycott of the Pride parade in Toronto, I don’t believe that drugs are to blame for his homophobic remarks and slurs. I have a hard time imagining that he could emerge from rehab suddenly prepared to embrace the LGBT population of Toronto, figuratively speaking (and much less literally). While I also have a hard time imagining he will get support at the polls from many constituents in this particular demographic, a vote for Rob Ford is a vote for bigotry and it’s wild to me that this is even a debate in 2014. Some might remember when Isaiah Washington was fired from the popular TV show Grey’s Anatomy for making a homophobic slur on set, directed at a fellow cast member, in 2006. Just last night he made a brief return to the show. It took one homophobic slur to get him fired and seven years for him to be welcomed back. Based on the Rob Ford model, I guess it must have taken him that long to get all the drugs out of his system so he could get back to normal and stop being such a homophobe.
Crack doesn’t make people racist, either. LA Clippers owner-for-the-time-being Donald Sterling has had a rough week, given the recorded comments that were leaked to the public exposing him as someone who is happy to let black people make millions of dollars for him, but doesn’t want to have to hang out in the same gigantic arena as them. Again, it took one comment to get him banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million dollars, and Rob Ford gets to hurl equally despicable comments at people he actually works with and then claim the drugs and/or booze made him do it. Lame. And so very gross.
He’s in rehab, we think. So that’s great. His addiction will be addressed and his health can enjoy a renaissance, or straight up birth depending on whether or not he’s ever been truly well. But the reality is that the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is not a misogynistic, racist homophobe because of his substance abuse issues. He’s a misogynistic, racist homophobe and, also, he has substance abuse issues. They are not mutually dependent traits. Attempting to cure ignorance with sobriety would be like trying to fix a leaky tire with an ice cube.
Having said that, I do join the rest of the country in wishing for Rob Ford a serious and successful road to recovery as he confronts his demons and takes this very first step in the right direction. He does not deserve to be mayor, but he does deserve to be healthy.
For its part, however, Toronto just deserves better.