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Thursday 3 October 2013

Loyalty Vs. Omerta - Definitions for #Topoli (UPDATED)

"He's a good guy," Ford said.  "I don't throw my friends under the bus."

"You can't teach loyalty." 

Oh, your Worship... let's do some term clarification here.  

Throwing Under the Bus is when you make someone the patsy - make them take the fall for something done by someone higher up in the industry or for implementing their instructions (See Sona, Michael for a potential example).  The implication is that you are offering up someone else in an abdication of your own responsibility.

Not ratting on your friends would be a better term to use here.  It relies on the concept of Omerta, or an anti-authoritarian code of silence - first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club kind of thing.  The implication is that you know your friends are engaging in misdeeds, but you're not going to talk about them - even if the law states that you need to.  This code of silence is generally a mutually-reinforcing thing; you don't snitch on me, I won't snitch on you and we'll both get away with breaking the rules.  See The Godfather for what a code of silence "between friends" looks like.

Or better yet, watch GoodFellas, because that's more often than not how cones of silence dribble out into convictions.  See The Prisoner's Dilemma for further reading.

Both throwing under the bus and not ratting on your friends are demonstrations of putting selfish interest and the avoidance of accountability before the public good - something the Chief Magistrate, as Public Servant #1, should really be focused on.

Loyalty, however, isn't about protecting friends or enabling bad behaviour - it's about serving the mission set forward by the leader, fulfilling the mission-related tasks as assigned by the leader and adding value - partially by providing critical assessments to the leader of when they're going astray.

Doug Ford's use of the term loyalty in reference to David Price is another indicator of how the Fords seem to feel loyalty actually has the same meaning as omerta, which it does not.  This creates problems for the Fords; despite Doug's saying that he doesn't know Lisi and Ford's insistence that he was shocked, shocked to hear Lisi had been charged with drug-related offences, the overarching narrative would suggest otherwise.

Good investigators, which the folk on this case apparently are, will have no trouble connecting the dots and building a map of behaviour between the parties; if Lisi knows Price and they were both involved in the hunt for a non-existent video that has been connected to a murder, the police will be able to shade in the dark spots and build a legally condemning picture of how this ring operated.  That's before you get to the interrogation part of the equation; you might be surprised the sorts of effective techniques for teasing out truth there are these days.

The Fords haven't promoted loyalty to themselves nor demonstrated loyalty to their circle; instead, they've let down their friends and betrayed the city.  If Rob Ford was truly loyal to Sandro Lisi, he would have encouraged him to get help and develop legal means of success.  The best social program is a job, after all - one presumes by this Ford means a legal one.  For his part, if Lisi was truly loyal to Rob Ford, he would have either not engaged with him or kept his own nose clean to avoid potential negative consequences for his friend.

The same, let it be noted, is true for everyone on City Council and within the Mayor's Office who had any knowledge of these problems and chose not to act.

There has been an exemplary model for what real loyalty looks like in this story - one that will hopefully get due recognition with time.  That role model is Mark Towhey.

Towhey, a soldier by training, always put the mission first; he believed in what Rob Ford stood for and believed in what they could accomplish at City Hall.  Everything he did was viewed through that lens.  Ford's former Chief of Staff didn't tell tales out of school, but at the same time he did not shy away from his responsibility to provide critical advice to the Mayor or to cooperate with the police when that became his duty.  

Ironically, Ford rewarded this exemplary loyalty by throwing Towhey under the bus.  I guess he didn't consider Towhey a friend.  The rest of the staff who opted to follow Towhey out the door?  That tells you a bit about who had earned respect in that office, doesn't it?

Despite everything Towhey has been through - despite the fact that it grows more likely that history will vindicate him, daily - he is still holding the line.  Long after Ford is gone, I imagine Towhey will still be supporting the vision he believes in.

Now, that's loyalty.

UPDATE: But there is one issue that falls through the cracks in the Canadian press's editorial room: racism.  Specifically when it comes to Black Canadians, the rule of Omerta reigns.

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