I do not like Rob Ford's policies or politics.
I do not like Rob Ford's interactional style.
I did not and would not vote for Rob Ford.
Let me make something else clear.
I wish Rob Ford the best in dealing with his latest health scare.
I hope he does not have to drop out of the Mayor's race.
I send him and his family positive thoughts as they face a difficult time.
Now that's clear too.
I follow Toronto politics fairly closely, reading most articles in most papers about the various candidates and their positions regarding issues that matter to me and to other Torontonians. I sometimes, though not often, stray down into the comments section of a particular article. I always do this with trepidation because, WOW, can people be brutal. With Mr. Ford, the comments veer from the very nasty to the outrageously nasty. Pro and Con - both sides tear at each other.
With the health scare, though, I see so many people who either say outright or pretty clearly imply that Mr. Ford deserves the tumour he has been diagnosed with because of his weight. "He didn't take care of himself, he's fat, what did he expect?" is the essence of these kind of comments. There are a lot of these kind of comments.
It's clear that fat people don't deserve sympathy, they deserve blame.
It's clear that fat people ask for every bad thing that happens to them.
It's clear that fat people ultimately deserve some kind of punishment.
A lot of these kind of comments are written as if the writer thinks they are funny. They are not.
Others think they are original. They are not.
People tell me that I shouldn't pay attention to these kinds of comments and dismiss them as 'written by trolls' or that people are just 'trolling' or that people under the cloak of anonymity don't need to be taken seriously.
I disagree on all counts.
I think these comments are a good way to get a sense of what people think but don't say and feel but don't reveal. I think anyone in any social movement needs to read these as kind of a free glimpse into the reality of our social world.
Racism - alive and thriving.
Sexism - bigger and badder than ever.
Homophobia - white hot anger continues.
Ableism and Disphobia - disturbingly violent.
Fat prejudice - completely ubiquitous.
Rather than ignoring these kinds of comments, these kinds of attitudes, I think we need to use them to prepare ourselves to live in the world as it's truly socially constructed. But I think we also need to use them as a means of understanding how to target appropriate pathways to social change.
In my work with people with disabilities I am always careful to teach about the world as it is, and how to live safely in that world. It isn't an easy world to navigate but it becomes safer when you understand that it's unsurprising that teens would dump feces and urine and slop on the head of an autistic kid. Don't you read the comments about autism? Don't you read the ignorance in newspapers? Those kids need punishing, kids with autism need to be better prepared to live in a world where that is entirely possible to happen.
Parenting, or otherwise supporting people, of any age, with differences means that an awareness of the intolerance, nay, hatred, of difference in our social world needs to be part of that training. Learning how to mistrust - trust and mistrust as skills as much as they are feelings. Learning how and when to be non-compliant - non compliance is a skill not a behaviour. Learning how and when to use your voice - we don't give voice, we suppress voice, it's time to help people discover the voice they've had all along. These are the jobs we need to do.
Just read what people have to say about Mr. Ford to be reminded that people who are different DESERVE PUNISHMENT ... and you know exactly what we have to do in order for people to live freely and safely in the world.