let's talk about being bullied, aka the rob ford story?

Cover to Let's Talk About Being Bullied

The cover caught my eye as it sat in a bin at Goodwill Buy the Pound in Scarborough: a large, blonde-haired bully about to give the beats to a bespectacled pencil-neck geek whose dog is afraid of what might unfold. There was something familiar about the bully, though it took a second to kick in.

Sweet jeezus, it's Rob Ford!

Flipping through the book, the resemblance grew with each page. I figured it was worth making a fifty-cent investment, since who knew when it might come in handy for a mayoral fiasco.

That opportunity is now. Wednesday night, there was a confrontation next to Ford's home between the mayor and Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale. Details are still emerging, but Ford's actions toward the media in the wake of the incident (such as refusing to talk to any City Hall reporters unless Dale is removed from the beat) reinforce his image as a bully to those who don't support him.

Which brings us back to Let's Talk About Being Bullied. Let's flip through and see how it might be interpreted as a biography of the mayor.


Right from Don Cherry's introductory speech, name-calling has been a hallmark of the Ford administration.


Rob Ford and his allies act tough and like to fight. You can insert any opponent-of-the-moment in the shoes of the bespectacled kid.


This page invites amateur psychology into why the mayor acts the way he does, and how his environment growing up shaped him. In some of the controversies surrounding Ford's actions, his shyness has been cited as a factor. There's also the pity factor commentators like The Grid's Edward Keenan have mentioned, where making the mayor seem like someone to feel sorry for plays to his base. I admit I feel sorry for the guy sometimes -- he's all too human, and based on his work with constituents, he genuinely likes to fix other people's problems.


Grabbing attention has never been one of Ford's problems, especially during his tenure as a councillor.


Fear seems to have guided Ford's actions during his encounter with Dale.


Is this how the mayor feels as City Council increasingly votes against his wishes?


The mayor frequently adopts a "with us or against us" attitude, with few shades of grey. Whenever he settles into a stubborn groove, as with the subways, it feels as if he senses the entire world is against him in his valiant fight for what he believes.


A question that has likely passed through more than a few minds in Toronto over the years.


Encapsulating the attempts of various parties to reach out to Ford to broker compromises on issues like the budget and transit.


The current state of Toronto City Council. Also, a reaction likely shared by provincial officials.


Advice on how to make the mayor irrelevant to the decision-making process.


Not so evident amongst City Council in the early days of the Ford administration, increasingly so in recent months. Also evident in the confrontational (if sometimes overblown) rhetoric the Star has adopted toward the mayor.


Or run away, depending on the situation. In the case of the mayor, playing into some of the distracting ploys his team has developed, such as the weigh ins, leaves his opposition looking bad when they resort to fat jokes (which, as someone who has long had weight issues, are a criticism tactic I have little-to-no use for) that stiffen the spines of Ford supporters. It's probably impossible for the media to ignore such sideshows.


The equivalent of "getting help" in regard to the Ford administration is "getting informed." However you feel about what Rob Ford says or does, he has galvanized Torontonians into become better informed and becoming more involved in community issues. Even somebody who is horribly misinformed yet active in regard to matters that affect the city by showing up at community meetings is at least engaging in the debate, as opposed to people to sit back and do nothing or toss a trollish comment on the web for shock value.


It is up to all of us.

Source: Let's Talk About Being Bullied written by Joy Berry, illustrated by John Costanza (Danbury: Grolier, 1984).


Val Dodge said…

I thought the likeness on the cover was eerie, but the rest of the book is just as bang-on.

Great find.
Roy Schulze said…
Best 50 cents you ever spent! Thanks for sharing.
Disabuser said…
Wonderful find and commentary. But what's your evidence for rapping "the confrontational (if sometimes overblown) rhetoric the Star has adopted toward the mayor" ?

If find the Star's coverage of Ford remarkably even-tempered, given his vicious and vindictive campaign against the paper (and other media that don't support him; I'm sure Mammoliti has a list).

It's to the Star's credit that it doesn't shrink from the fray. With a train wreck of a mayor (and, for about a year, of city council too), informed and probing reporting is essential to a functioning citizenry.

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