Nominated for: being judgmental for all the wrong reasons.
Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past twelve months. From December 12–23, the candidates for Mightiest and Meanest—and new this year, a reader’s write-in option! From December 26–29 you’ll be able to vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year, and we’ll reveal the results December 30.
This may come as a bit of a shock, but there are some people who are critical of Rob Ford and his politics. Indeed, there have even been times when Torontoist has taken exception to Rob Ford’s decisions, press blunders, and generally poor leadership. But thwarting efforts to engage in reasoned debate are some people who undermine public discussions about why Rob Ford is a poor choice for Toronto.
We aren’t speaking about conservatives. No, the villains are fat-phobic Rob Ford haters. Or—giving the accused the benefit of the doubt that they aren’t actually fat phobic but still use Mayor Ford’s body size as ammo—they are people who criticize Rob Ford because of his weight.
Putting aside the fact that it is incredibly offensive, immature, and ignorant to ridicule someone because of their body, it also undermines legitimate criticism of the mayor. Rob Ford is a bad choice for mayor because he compared bike lanes to swimming with sharks, not because of his dietary choices. Rob Ford is embarrassing for Toronto because he makes stupid comments about homeless people, not because of his appearance, despite what a March 2011 cover of NOW Magazine that featured a nearly naked Rob Ford might suggest. (Not only did that weaken NOW‘s criticism of the mayor, but it gave Ford supporters an opportunity to collectively paint Toronto’s left, many of who use legitimate arguments against Rob Ford’s leadership, as idiots.) Rob Ford is a bad mayor because he is not knowledgeable about the HIV/AIDS population in Toronto, not because he may not have a healthy lifestyle (which is both debatable and none of our business).
And it is offensive, immature, and ignorant to make fun of someone because of their body. It is not entirely different than being derisive about someone’s face—remember the Kim Campbell/Jean Chretien fiasco?
In July, Julia Horel wrote a pointed and poignant piece for Shameless arguing that fat-phobic rhetoric against Rob Ford was personally hurtful: “When you tell Rob Ford that he’s a fat fuck who needs to get on a bike, you erase me as a fat cyclist.” It’s not unlike degrading someone because of gender or race. It really should go without saying. But in case any such villain is reading this post, we’ll say it: much like gender and race, obesity and body size are not always something that people have a choice about. No one’s body size, gender, or race makes them a bad mayor. Using it against Ford not only delegitimizes the reasonable arguments against his mayoralty, it also makes you look like a total jerk.