Whatever you think of Mandela, whatever his role in history is, his death was a story that made the media circus around it at least understandable. Yes, we are rewriting history just like we did with the other terrorist, Yasser Arafat, who also mellowed down in his old age; yes, the coverage, the scene was way out of proportion, yes, the lineup of the political leaders was pathetic, yes, the media was biased, but at least it was a real event that deserved to be covered.
I wanted to talk to you about the little circus that is going on in Toronto. A little side-show in the bigger media circus around Rob Ford that I could not escape even in the darkest corners of the Indian subcontinent.
While the big circus hit the world media, our local circus (also on the world’s stage) was still going on. Ours also had a funeral in it – that of John Zivcic of the Toronto police force. The media coverage was way out of proportion and only subsided with the news of the bigger funeral and the circus around it.
Let’s do a quick recap:
- Toronto is nearly bankrupted by a neo-com mayor, whose term in office was marked by labour strikes and tax hikes. He gave unprecedented powers to Labour unions which contributed to quite some degree to the city’s financial troubles.
- Outspoken conservative Rob Ford gets elected on the promise of fiscal responsibility.
- The media, which did not seem to have too much of a problem with the previous mayor and the problems he created, started a relentless and vicious war on the new mayor the day he took office.
- The mayor, despite vehement opposition from councillors, despite constant harassment from the media, did exactly what he promised. In about two years he put the city’s finances back in order. Not to my taste, I am libertarian after all, but into a far better shape than it was before.
- The real media circus started when allegations surfaced about the mayor smoking crack. The allegations kept the media busy for a few months.
- The mayor asked all of the city’s departments to cut back on their budgets.
That included the police department whose budget went up 80% in the last 13 years.
- The Toronto police provided ‘evidence’ about the allegation against Rob Ford. The mayor was not charged with any crime, the crown has nothing they can prosecute him for.
- Just as the media circus was at its height and in the centre of the whole world’s attention, there was an accident resulting in the death of a Toronto police officer.
Ford claims that the release of police wiretaps was politically motivated; the police chief is trying to get him. Whether he is or not does not really matter, but looking at the timeline does not make the police look good, and when articles like this start appearing in the press questioning the billion dollar a year budget of the Toronto police force, the police really needs some positive press.
John Zivcic crashes to the rescue.
Young police officer rushing for a car chase causing an accident that eventually kills him. He flew through his windshield because he was not wearing a seatbelt.
We had a week long media circus with countless interviews, memorial services and the funeral to show us what an amazing person he was.
Let’s be clear: he did not die rescuing an old lady from the raging river or protecting an innocent child in a gunfight. He died because he was driving recklessly and without a seatbelt. It was pure luck that he did not kill anybody in the accident.
Yet he was portrayed in the media as some sort of hero. To show a police force whose members are ready to sacrifice their lives for us. There was nothing even remotely respectable about the death of this officer. It was just a really dumb accident. If it was not for the mayor and his war with the various public service unions, the death of John Zivcic would not have been the prime time news as it now happened to be.
Let me also be clear: I am not defending the mayor. This is not about him or the police. The behavior of the police wasn’t exactly respectable, but I can understand it. They do what any and every government organization do: they use any political means at their disposal to gain and retain as much of our money as they possibly can.
What appalls me is the prostitution of the media, the way they are shamelessly serving partisan political interest trying to prop up the sorry image of the Toronto police force and creating this pitiful media circus minimus.