Toront’s Mayor Rob Ford is at it again, providing late-night talk show hosts material for their monologues and news media outlets something to say, mostly of the tut-tut variety. The mayor, apparently, had too much to drink and used his version of Jamaican patios—a very low, expletive-laden version I might add—to sound off about the police chief. All of which was caught on a video, which ended up on YouTube.
The whole Rob Ford affair has been rather tawdry, both from the point of view of his erratic and sometimes bizarre behaviour and that of some of the media coverage he has received. All in all, not Toronto’s finest moments.
Much of what I’ve read and heard in the past twelve hours has had more to do with Ford’s attempt to speak Jamaican patois than the words themselves. Some on the radio suggest it is somehow disrespectful to imitate the language of a minority group. I hope not, for I often try to speak with an Irish or a Scottish accent, and I certainly mean no disrespect.
On the other hand, Ford’s choice of words would offend many from Jamaica. At least many of the people I know from that island.
I notice the Toronto Sun singled out “bumbaclot” for special mention. Many in Canada, even some Jamaicans here, understand the word to mean roughly “used toilet paper,” though, it is often used in the same context as the more common word, “fuck,” which the mayor also uses. Actually, if you go back to the original meaning of “bumba” and “clot,” you find an even more offensive definition of the terms.
“Bumba” is a slang word for both “ass” and “vigina”—one discerns which by the context in which it is used. “Clot” or more often, “clart” means cloth in the context of the Jamaican slang expression, “blood clart,” meaning an early version of a female sanitary napkin. So saying “bumbaclot” would roughly be equivalent of saying, “tampon.”
Ford seems to slur his words quite a bit on the video, but I hear him using the ultimate of Jamaican “bad words” a couple of times—that being, “rass” and “rass clart,” an even more offensive synonym of “bumbaclot.”
As my wife remarked earlier today, Rob Ford has the perfect right to say whatever he wants to on his private time, and he obviously has the right to be mayor of Toronto, but he can’t do both at the same time. Using swear words has become common practice these days, even in what I think of as polite conversation. Surely, though, there is a point where this practice is so offensive it should be condemned. I think Rob Ford’s performance is at or beyond that point.
Here’s the video, decide for yourselves.