The Rob Ford “Crackstarter” Seems to Be Running Out of Steam, and That’s a GOOD Thing.

rob ford and crack dealers

By now you’re probably aware of the reports of the existence of a video that Toronto’s Peter Griffin-esque mayor, Rob Ford, smoking crack with two dealers. Gawker made the initial report and described the video, which was quickly followed up by a more in-depth description by the Toronto Star.

It has been reported that the dealers in possession of the video want at least $100,000 for the video and that they want to use the money to move to Calgary. Perhaps they’ve heard of Calgary’s infamous late-night spot for drug- and other criminal-related activity, Crack Mac’s, or perhaps they just like the fact that Calgary has a much better mayor, who most likely doesn’t smoke crack.

peter griffin on meth

Suddenly the strange accusation by former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson — who alleges that Ford made a pass at her and groped her derriere at a fund-raiser back in March, and made a seat-of-the-pants diagnosis that he might have been on cocaine — doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. So does a comment I remember from Toronto Mike’s blog, in which a reader going by the nom de plume of Rinse claims to know someone whose mother smokes rock with His Worship (and yes, that is the proper honorific for the Mayor of Toronto, even if it is Rob Ford). Mike explains what he knows about this comment in a recent post.

rob ford crackstarter

Gawker has started a fund-raising campaign — a “Crackstarter” — to raise $200,000 to purchase the video, after which they’ll post it online and we’ll all finally see what’s in the video. Perhaps it’s the Victoria Day weekend, but at the current rate, it may not make its goal by the end of the ten-day period that was set. Most successful campaigns of this style follow the “80 – 20” rule, making around 80% of the goal within the first 20% of the time allotted. After that, interest fades away.

As of the time of this writing, the Crackstarter campaign has made less than half of the target amount of money. That bodes ill for the campaign, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s manifestly the opposite.

gun pipeline

The problem with the Crackstarter campaign is that it’s rewarding some of the worst people in Toronto. Crack dealers are the end-of-line customers of the Gun Pipeline, the way by which most guns used in crimes end up here. Guns purchased legally in the U.S. are brought illegally to Canada by “mules”, where they become part of a pool of guns that are rented out or shared, Zipcar-style, to thugs who seem to be living the Grand Theft Auto lifestyle, right down to the terrible life choices that characters in those videogames always make. If the Crackstarter raises the money to get the video, the odds are pretty good that some of that money will eventually feed the Gun Pipeline or that shared armory, which in turn will create our next gun crime victims — either ones who are lucky to be alive, such as Connor Stevenson, or less fortunate ones like Jane Creba or the Danzig Street shooting victims.

Rosalind Robertson, in her Tumblr The DIY Coutourier, makes an excellent point in a post titled Fuck You, Gawker:

Let me talk to you a second about drugs, criminality, poverty, gangs and guns. I was a reporter for years – and they’re all related. One big criminal family. The gangs, the guns – it all comes from drugs.

Gawker wants to write these criminals a cheque for more money than most of us can imagine having access to in our lifetime. And not a cheque of their money – of *yours*.

All you who bitch about taxes, who need public health care, who are on a waitlist to see a doctor, who work day in and day out, who work hard in crap jobs that don’t pay well – you, joe citizen, who have never broken a law in your life – they’re asking YOU to give this huge amount of money to a group of people who are a violent plague on my city, who risk the lives of both addicts and innocent bystanders on a regular basis.

Rob Ford may or may not have smoked crack. There is a video in the hands of the people who are involved in ripping my city apart. And instead of turning it over, like good law abiding citizens, they want TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS.

She’s right. Her reasons are the same reasons why I haven’t chipped in a dime to the Crackstarter. I don’t like who the money will benefit and don’t want to end up funding the next shootout or the death of an innocent bystander.

Hey, I’m all for getting to the truth of the story, and I believe that Rob Ford is a blight that needs to be removed from City Hall ASAP. But there’s a right way to do so, and funding merchants for whom collateral deaths is just a part of business isn’t it.

If you’ve contributed to the Crackstarter, please consider giving at least the same amount of money — or even more — to a good, local, community-building cause.

8 replies on “The Rob Ford “Crackstarter” Seems to Be Running Out of Steam, and That’s a GOOD Thing.”

Good points.

The quote from Rosalind Robertson, though, is wrong in one respect: it does not all come from drugs. That’s mistaking a symptom for the disease. That illicit drugs are intimately involved in urban crime is a product of their very illegality. And the causes of urban crime is a discussion best had elsewhere; but it is definitely not one, drugs, any more than vomiting causes gastroenteritis.

Dammit Joey, I felt smug and happy for donating. SMUG AND HAPPY. Now you’ve gone and ruined that feeling with your harsh reality.

Could we instead use that money to pay needy orphans to steal the video from the drug dealers?

We like to think drug dealers are well off. It was great for Miami Vice plot lines, but it falls short in the real world. Most drug dealers get into the life because they have few other options. It doesn’t even make much money. It’s not a life they choose, nor a life they want. Based on the research of Sudir Vanketesh (mentioned in chapter 3 of Freakonomics; “why do drug dealers still live with their moms?”), crack dealers have a pretty hard “job” that on average pays less than minimum wage, and many would get out of the life if they could.

$200,000 is a damn good start for getting out of that life.

Sure, dealers might use that money for ill, but that is a life-changing amount of money that could go towards getting someone out of the life too. The fact that John Cook was told the guys want to get out of the city and move to Alberta is a good indicator that continuing to sell drugs in Toronto is not what they want.

I disagree. It’s a small price to pay to get the truth out. What happens if the video doesn’t surface? He gets to pretend it was all a hoax and a left-wing conspiracy and all the citizens of Crack Nation will buy it. We need to see it to shove it right it their faces, whatever the cost.

Having the money come from an American source that will spotlight everything was a bad mistake. Instead, concerned citizens of Toronto would’ve easily raised the money without involving those damn Yankees. But they ruined it.

[…] I have argued that the campaign is a bad idea, but the free market has spoken. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of giving money to people who thrive on misery and produce violence as a byproduct, as well as the “chequebook journalism” that my friend Ethan Zuckerman suggests this is. Enough people feel strongly enough to have donated enough money to make it a success — or a would-be success, as the people who purport to be in possession of the video have not responded to Gawker’s attempt to reach them again. […]

There is another possible outcome. Cook announced that he lost contact with the dealers who own the video. He also said that if the transaction fails and he doesn’t obtain the tape, the collected money will be donated to charity – which sounds like a fair deal, right? But he didn’t stop to ask the donors if they agree with this, because the contract of the crack starter fund is valid only if the purchase is made. The possibility that they may lose contact with the owner of the video (on account of the obvious unreliability of drug dealers) was an outcome Gawker outlined from the outset of the campaign — even before they eventually did lose contact with them — and donating the funds to a Canadian non-profit was always the fallback plan. Sure, the money will go to charity, but who will get the tax deductions? What Gawker really should be doing is exactly what LSM suggests here: , which is giving the money back to the backers if the video cannot be purchased and then they can give it to charity, if they want to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *