Mobbing Ford

2013-11-15-300x245This is the editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay as it appeared in to-day’s Spectator.  The Hamilton and Toronto football teams play off in Toronto Sunday for a place in the Grey Cup game next week.
Mayor Ford, a football enthusiast and former coach, wore his Argonaut team sweater to work on Thursday (not smart) and threatened to make a jeering phone call to the Hamilton mayor, whose name he got wrong (even worse)!

As it happens, MacKay’s cartoon is an excellent introduction for to-day’s topic: mobbing.

The term Mobbing has nothing to do with mobs waving placards and shouting chants.  It is now used in a technical sense to describe group behaviour, especially in a workplace, that acts collectively to shun and destroy a fellow employee. It is like a collective, organized, and adult form of the destructive bullying we see among children. There has recently been a huge campaign against bullying, a zero tolerance policy… but it remains to be seen whether this will have any significant impact, especially among teens with internet access and social networking skills.

I first heard the term mobbing used in connection with Professor Kenneth Westhues of the University of Waterloo.  His website dedicated to the topic is especially interesting. I just read his explanation of the tragedy in the 2007 massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,  when a fourth-year student murdered 32 professors and students and injured a further 25, before taking his own life.  Read it here.

As usual, Wikipedia is a good starting point for finding references on any topic. Here is part of the article there.  

Mobbing in the context of human beings means bullying of an individual by a group in any context, such as a family, school, workplace, neighborhood, or community.

When it occurs as emotional abuse in the workplace, such as “ganging up” by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, humiliation, discrediting, and isolation, it is also referred to as malicious, nonsexual, nonracial, general harassment… 

In the book MOBBING: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, [Davenport, Schwartz & Elliott] the authors identify mobbing as a particular type of bullying that is not as apparent as most, defining it as “…an emotional assault. It begins when an individual becomes the target of disrespectful and harmful behavior. Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace.”

The authors say that mobbing is typically found in work environments that have poorly organised production and/or working methods and incapable or inattentive management and that mobbing victims are usually “exceptional individuals who demonstrated intelligence, competence, creativity, integrity, accomplishment and dedication”.

Does the Rob Ford situation fit the description? It is certainly a hostile environment!

And what about the really nasty and uncivil behaviour seen in so many television programs centered on the workplace and reality TV.  Sometimes it appears, both in the news and in real life that mobbing is an entrenched reaction to stress and disagreement. I could tell stories; I am confident you can also!  If you are still reading, here is a graphic I found on Google Images.   Does any of it sound familiar?pcjpeg From  WHEN THE ABUSER GOES TO WORK : An Employment Law Blog about Workplace Bullying, Discrimination & Abuse

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One Response to Mobbing Ford

  1. Curmudgeon Bludgeon says:

    I dunno about mobbing, Motley D, maybe “blobbing”? (Blogging about mobbing . . . get it? get it?) The funny thing is, scrolling down your main page I see that you anticipated the joke yourself way back on the eleventh: “I wrote about both Remembrance Day and Rob Ford last year. The links are in the next two blob [sic!] posts.” A subconscious slip of the processor? A blog about Rob is naturally a blob, and B and G are next to each other on the keyboard after all, lol. Or are you even slyer than we’ve always suspected? Hmm.

    Anyway, sic! is indeed the word here. But I’m not sure about “mobbing.” The attack dogs of press and punditocracy are simply doing what they’re trained to do, and if ever there were a fat trouser-seat that had earned a biting it’s Our Ford’s. That’s just the problem, though: unless I’m misunderstanding Westhues, it seems to me that “mobbing” only applies as a viable sociological construct (i.e., one not expanded into meaninglessness by trying to make it cover too much) when the individual targeted really is (essentially) innocent of wrong-doing. For example, in the paradigm case, sexual harrassment charges amount to mobbing when some angry lesbian at the Womyn’s Centre decides that she doesn’t like, say, Dr. Summers’s* obsevations about the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields and suddenly “remembers” that time when he made a pass at her in the elevator . . . but not when it can be clearly shown that yes, Professor Fondle has indeed been running a gropes-for-grades cheerleader-pyramid scheme. (Ah but it was so sweet while it lasted . . . *sniff*)

    In other words, mobbing is a highjacking of the mechanisms for internal policing within organizations. The victim cannot be shown to be incompetent or in dereliction of duty or any of the other things that would normally justify removal, and so a pretext must be found, typically by dipping into the squalid swamp of cultural marxist thought crimes for whatever mud seems most likely to stick. The process is one of active defamation and un-personing (all done, of course, with the best of intentions and in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards . . . ), but that such tactics are resorted to at all is, in effect, all the proof you need that the target was otherwise unimpeachable to start with.

    Not so, surely, in the case of Rob Ford.

    * These names are purely fictional, and for the purposes of example only. Any resemblance, etc., etc.

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