Back in 1997, I got stopped by police and issued a ticket, which I fought in court and lost.
There were four vehicles involved in the scenario: one older vehicle, a newer sports car behind him, me in my car behind the sports car, and a police car behind me.
We were all driving west along Danforth Avenue one evening, and the older vehicle stopped to wait for a gap in the eastbound traffic in order to make a u-turn. The sports car behind him and in front of me got tired of waiting so he pulled out across the yellow line into oncoming traffic to get around the older vehicle.
Then, when the older vehicle that was now in front of me finally found a gap in the eastbound traffic, he failed to get his boat of a car around in one u-turn, so he executed Austin Powers-inspired umpteen-point turn before squealing his tires as he sped off, back eastbound. I continued westbound.
Of course, the cop pulled me over...because I didn't have my seat belt on.
I asked him, "Did you not see all this crazy driving in front of me? Of all the things going on threatening public safety, my seatbelt is a priority in your mind?"
I took the ticket to court, naively thinking that reason and common sense should prevail such that the judge would reaffirm that the officer exercised poor judgment that did not serve the community's safety and best interest.
The judge waived his hand dismissively and said "All that other stuff is irrelevant. It's simple, son: were you wearing a seat belt?"
I recall this suddenly-relevant precedent as Mayor Rob Ford faces allegations of conflict-of-interest.
There is an Act that sets clear language describing what should not be done, as well as the consequences for doing it - if he voted on a matter in which he was directly and materially involved, the mandatory minimum is removal from office; a ban from office eligibility could additionally be handed down.
His supporters will try, as vainly as I did in that courtroom, to explain that
- that perhaps he didn't realize what he was doing (have you ever told a cop you did not know the posted speed limit?), or
- that he was doing it for a good cause (you mean like stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family?), or
- that we should "think of the children"...
And, as much as I might want to listen, all I can hear is the judge saying "All that other stuff is irrelevant - it's simple, son."
If so, let's see the judge apply justice as evenly as was dispensed in my case.
Or, are we going to find out that, in the words of George Orwell, "all animals are created equal, and some are more equal than others"?