Musings —12.28.2013 09:55 AM—
Not quite. The headline on Stephen Maher’s column, here, bears little relation to what I think he’s saying.
There’s no “new amorality at the heart of public life.” That’s ridiculous. Any of the politicians I know have been shocked by Rob Ford’s crack-smoking, heroin-using, drunk-driving, wife-humiliating ways. They are all, to a one, angry and appalled by Crackhead Mayor. They’re not amoral.
It’s not our political culture that is amoral; if you read what he says, Maher lays the blame elsewhere. He says “our new online media culture is amoral.” He suggests that, now that people are their own news editors, they suddenly have started clicking stories about the Kardashians, not Kafka.
I don’t think he’s quite right about that. There’s nothing new about peoples’ enthusiasm for Rob Ford’s antecedents. They’ve been lining up to see horrible people, and horrible stuff, for a long time: in the Roman coliseum, in the circus freak show, in the old black-and-white National Enquirer – and in the TV reality shows, where bearded racists and homophobes are made into stars.
And, as is well-known, they line up at NFL games to get their picture taken with Rob Ford. They do it for the same reasons they always have: they can’t tear their eyes away from freaks and failures. It’s in their, our, nature.
Rob Ford is a circus freak, just like the bearded lady and the Siamese Twins and the three-legged man were freaks. They’re not necessarily buying tickets to approve of Ford and the other freaks. They’re buying tickets to get close, and even to get the opportunity to mock him.
Is that amoral? Maybe.
Mostly, it says more about the people in the line-up – that is to say, us – than it does about Rob Ford, doesn’t it?