Integrity: Time to Man Up

A few things happened last week that had me shaking my head, and they were all surrounding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

First, a video (supposedly) surfaced that showed Ford smoking crack with some Somalian drug dealers.

Second, a story about that video was published as news.

Third, another story started circulating that Ford claimed the video was of his twin brother, Mike.

Now, let’s talk integrity.

I have no love for Rob Ford as a politician. He’s part of a new breed of bully right wingers who believe elected officials are put in place in order to make decisions on behalf of the people, rather than to represent the will of the people who put them there. This mode of thinking has become one of the most frustrating aspects of Canadian politics in the last decade and a half, and it’s really getting out of hand. At some point, people are going to have to take responsibility and acknowledge that we don’t elect politicians to make decisions we’re uncomfortable making for ourselves. We elect them so they can debate the options presented and represent our will in the houses of government.

Despite my position on Ford’s politics, however, running a story about a video someone claims they saw represents a complete lack of integrity on the part of the journalistic community. It’s the sort of story that Fox or Sun Media might run, based on heresay and inflammatory sensationalism. That it ran in The Star is surprising.

I won’t go into the whole details of how the story came to light. It ran on Gawker and on The Star. But no video has seen the light of day yet. So for all intents and purposes, this is how the story should read, if the names are removed:

“I saw on this guy’s website that they had this video of another guy smoking crack on some drug dealer’s phone. The drug dealer wanted too much money for the video though, so we’re just telling you what was in the video. It’s totally legit.”

See how stupid that sounds? To report this as news shows a complete lack of integrity. The fact that the people involved are drug dealers and Rob Fort is totally irrelevant. It’s a non-issue. It’s a non-story. It is, in fact, a complete fabrication until proven otherwise.

You don’t publish a story saying, “we saw this, but we can’t show it to you,” when this level of criminality is involved. The guy is a complete dufus in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean things that DIDN’T happen can be used to trash his character.

Get the proof first…and until then shut the hell up about it.

Next problem: the guy with the video wants $100,000 for it. Should he be paid for the video? I don’t think so. He supposedly has evidence of a major public official breaking the law and spouting all sorts of anti-gay and anti-Liberal vitriol. To hold onto this evidence, or demand payment for it, represents a complete lack of personal integrity. It’s the right of every voting person to have access to this information; and it’s his responsibility as a citizen to bring it to light.

The argument of course would be, “yes, but he’s a drug dealer. Integrity isn’t his native language.” OK fine. But that still leaves us with extortion and withholding evidence. If there were enough evidence here to launch a criminal investigation, the phone would have to be turned over anyway. But he knows this activity is criminal, and he knows the comments made on the video are criminal. Civic duty demands the person in the video, if it is indeed Ford, be brought to justice. And that means turning over the video.

Finally, it was reported in The Daily Currant that Mayor Ford is claiming the guy in the video is really his drug addict twin brother, Mike. A lot of people have been reposting this article as though it were a news story. It isn’t. The Daily Currant is a parody news site, like The Onion. Ford has no twin brother, and never made these claims.

However, the fact that people are believing the story — that they actually think it’s within the realm of possibility that Ford would say something like this — speaks volumes about Ford’s character and integrity. He’s obviously not highly regarded as a man of integrity.

If you study some of the stories The Daily Currant has run, you’ll see that often there are stories that are pretty outrageous, yet are quite possible given who the stories are about. That again speaks to the character of the people they’re written about.

There are lessons of character and integrity built in here that I hope guys can take away in their quest to become real men:

1. Don’t give people a reason to want to bring you down.
2. If what you hear is hearsay only, don’t repeat it. In fact, don’t repeat it anyway.
3. Don’t be such a jackass that people would have no trouble believing the most ridiculous fallacy about your actions.
4. Remember: if people offer you a rumour about someone else, chances are they’re offering rumours about you in the other direction. Don’t get involved in that game.


Image courtesy of winnond /