Fordian slips: A lesson in language for the Ford brothers

A comparison of Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber's definitions versus the actual meanings of various misused words

In what can only be described as mistakes of George Bushian-proportions, Councillor Doug Ford used the word “jihad” twice earlier this week.

You may recall the world collectively cringing when former US president Bush used the word “crusade” in reference to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan shortly after the 9/11.

Well, Toronto collectively cringed this week when Cllr. Ford used an equally loaded word – “jihad” – inappropriately and offended the Muslim community.

He accused CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan of engaging in a “jihadist attack” against his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, on Wednesday after the mayor cancelled a one-on-one interview with the reporter.

Then on Friday, after Tommy Lenathen, the father of an autistic boy, filed a complaint with the integrity commissioner against Cllr. Ford for his offensive comments directed at a group home for autistic teens, Ford told reporters, “it’s a full out jihadist attack against [Rob and I] right now.”

Although Ford later apologized to Mulligan and said the term was not appropriate, he did not apologized in June when he simultaneously insulted autistic people and their families calling the home for teens a nightmare, saying it had ruined the community and threatening to buy and sell the house in possibly the worst case of NIMBYism the city has seen from a councillor.

Lenathen’s letter to Janet Leiper asked that Ford receive sensitivity training, apologize and resign.

Going one step beyond, as he’s wont to do, Ford told reporters that Lenathan can “go to hell,” which effectively sends the same message to families with autistic children.

Let’s not forget the moment when Cllr. Ford defended his brother against the shirtless jogger, Joe Killoran, after a Canada Day parade interaction, by saying that the highschool teacher had used a racial slur against Rob although there is no evidence to support that claim. Doug attempted to clarify his logic saying a person can be racist against people that eat red apples, people who have drinking problems, or people that are too fat, but only further confounded reporters and the public.

Earlier this week, when Rob Ford returned to office he fumbled some language and answers to questions that would indicate he too struggles with English.

The mayor referred to a “chronicle” substance abuse problem in an interview with the CBC’s Dwight Drummond, in his first media appearance after a 60-day stay stint in rehab. Later in the same interview, Drummond asked what drugs the mayor had done, including heroin in the list to which the mayor responded, “you name it, I’ve done it.” He later clarified with another media organization that he hasn’t used heroin.

For the councillor and mayor’s reference we’ve compiled a small lexicon of words as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary versus their Fordian use.


Oxford English Dictionary: “a war or struggle against unbelievers” among Muslims. *Note: This term is politically charged and full of negative connotation, in part as a result of its constant and incorrect use by north Americans that promotes xenophobia.

Fordian use: A vain, bombastic attempt to compare your embarrassing family’s struggles with those of a holy war.


Fordian: People that shouldn’t be able to leave the house.

Doug Ford: “My heart goes out to these kids with autism. But no one told me they’d be leaving the house … an absolute nightmare … [people that are] ruining the community”

Oxford English Dictionary: A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.


Fordian: “”You can be racist against people that eat little red apples

… Racism isn’t just about religion and colour and race. It’s about going after someone relentlessly on a daily basis.”

Oxford English Dictionary: The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races


Fordian: The word was meant as an adjective. Rob was looking for the word “chronic,” meaning (Of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring

Oxford English Dictionary: A factual written account of important or historical events in the order of their occurrence.


Fordian: One in a list of many substances possibly abused in a drunken stupor and therefore not recalled.

Rob Ford: “You name it, I’ve done it.”

Oxford English Dictionary: A highly addictive analgesic drug derived from morphine, often used illicitly as a narcotic producing euphoria.


Fordian: An admission of guilt only motivated by public pressure and usually delivered through Crocodile tears.

Oxford English Dictionary: A regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure.

You never know what to expect with the Ford brothers, but this is certainly the most entertaining show on television. | @cynthiajmcqueen

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