When Rob Ford Gained My Sympathy

*EDITED TO NOTE: When I wrote this originally, Rob Ford had not made the public (humiliating, degrading) comments about his wife. Since those comments, I have lost significant sympathy for this man. Yes, he is still human but no, I cannot defend his words or his actions.

I didn’t vote for Rob Ford, nor can I think of a scenario in which I ever would. 

He is a man who I once saw in the same light as a Saturday Night Live, Chris Farley-esque character- a bumbling, laughable buffoon.

And yet, in the wake of Ford’s most damaging scandal to date, I find myself increasingly sympathetic toward Rob Ford.

When the alleged ‘Rob Ford Smokes Crack’ video recap appeared in my news feed, I assumed it to be true. It would explain so much of what I believe about Rob Ford- the often erratic, nonsensical, ‘foot in mouth’ man that is Toronto’s mayor fits my (uneducated) impression of what a functioning drug-user may look like. I jumped on the bandwagon- calling for Ford’s immediate resignation, assuming a lack of outright denial of the actions caught in this alleged video equaled guilt.

The more this story unfolded, however, the more something changed for me. I read the accounts of the alleged crack-smoking video and then I read the tweets and Facebook posts touting this video recap as fact, not the allegations they truly were.

I read the fat jokes and the saw the out-and-out mockeries on tv.  

And, at some point, I began to feel a growing concern and sympathy for this man I once laughed at and dismissed.

Allegations are a slippery slope. They can take on a life of their own and, in this day and age of social media, become a widely believed, unquestioned truth. I dare say that none of us discussing the allegations made by Gawker and the Toronto Star had seen the footage of Rob Ford smoking crack; but we all talked about the video like we watched it with our own two eyes.

Imagine living through that media firestorm. Living through the constant media attention and allegations. Imagine finally, in a moment of defeat or weakness, admitting to that which you had been accused of for months- to actually smoking crack cocaine.

Yes, I believe that Ford’s reputation was already tarnished by his many outbursts, off-the-cuff comments, and less than desirable decisions during his tenure as Mayor thus far, but I, for one, am beginning to feel sympathy for a man whose reputation has been tarnished and mocked worldwide. 

I have begun to feel sympathetic toward a man whose resignation from the office of Mayor of Toronto is being demanded, based on these allegations, that proved to be true, of drug use.

It is highly likely that his new ‘crack-smoking Mayor’ moniker will follow him for the rest of his political career, if he even hopes to still have one.  A reputation tarnished by allegations, found later - admitted under much duress- to be truth, is a reputation that is unlikely to ever fully recover, no matter what he does at this point.

Now that we know the alleged crack-cocaine smoking video is true, however, I feel even more sympathetic toward Rob Ford, because it likely means that he has some level of addiction to drugs. It would mean that he requires outside help to not use an illegal substance, that he is probably in denial about this need for help, and that he will likely fight a battle with drugs for the rest of his life. 

I feel sympathetic toward a man, that many believe has great political promise, who now stands to see his entire personal and professional life crumble at the hands of drug use. 

Ford must have known that his private life would eventually become public; that what he did in the dark would eventually become light.  And yet, despite the overwhelming potential consequences, the Mayor could not stop himself from smoking crack-cocaine. 

That man I feel sympathy for.

While people are making t-shirts joking they’ve smoked crack with Toronto’s Mayor, successfully raising a staggering $200,000 to purchase that (once alleged video), and mocking everything from his weight to his voice to his final admission that he has smoked crack, it is becoming clear to me that we have lost sight of that fact that, outside of politics, Rob Ford is a son, a father, a brother, and a husband. 

He is not a late-night sketch comedy character meant solely for our comedic pleasure. 

He is a real person who needs real help.

Rob Ford chose to run for the Mayor of Toronto, he chose to be a polarizing figure, and he chose to be confrontational with the media and even, at times, those who backed him. 

I don’t support Rob Ford the politician, but I sympathize with Rob Ford, the human being. 

Yes, the Mayor should step aside from his powerful political position in the wake of evidence and admission that video of Rob Ford smoking crack is true. 

But in spite of it all, I can't help but remember that Rob Ford is a human being who deserves much much better than the treatment he is enduring.


  1. I so agree!

  2. well said. until the crack smoking allegations, I'd never heard of Rob Ford and had formed no opinions. I suspect they're true, but when "scandals" like these grab international attention - whether you're a philandering president or shoplifting Winona - I always worry that the humiliation and impossibility of a full recovery is too much for our humanness. what happens if Mr. Ford throws his hands up and does something drastic? how would we feel then? bullying is bullying - one man against a barrage of attacks for putting a pipe to his lips? we let people walk on a lot more. xo

    1. We sure do. If he was handsome and charming we wouldn't even be having this conversation. I don't think he should be the mayor, but I also don't think he deserves to be vilified to the degree he has.

  3. This is such an amazing post about Rob Ford. I am sharing it with on FB in hopes that the Rob Ford haters among my friends can take a small step back and really think about the severe and final judgement they are supporting.

    1. Jennifer- thank you so much! I just think we need to remember he's a human. Do I like him as a mayor? No. But as a person he deserves some common decency!


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