A Statuesque Disgrace
By: Rachel Marsden
Let’s get something straight: Alexander Wood wasn’t a hero, he was a pervert. And the same political correctness that allowed him to flee the country without having to answer for his actions is very much alive and well in Toronto today, as evidenced by the media completely ignoring the real story.
A bronze statue at the corner of Alexander and Church streets now immortalizes Wood, a 19th-century magistrate. This “gay icon” is best known for being run out of town after he went around inspecting the packagery of young men under the guise that a “Miss Bailey” had accused them of rape and had supposedly left a scratch mark.
Forget that a public official going around ordering people to drop their pants wouldn’t fly today. Apparently, it didn’t back in Wood’s day, either. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, “his abuse of his position as magistrate made him liable to fine and imprisonment. The evidence was submitted to the public prosecutor, but from its odious nature, the investigation was smothered on the understanding that Wood leave Upper Canada.”
One of the monument’s plaques reads that Wood “suffered a homophobic scandal.” Look, “homophobic” implies that people were scared of this guy because he was gay. In reality, this event had nothing to do with his gayness — only his abuse of authority.
Kyle Rae, Councillor for Toronto Centre-Rosedale, confirms that “there’s no determination that [Wood] was gay.” The evidence was only ever circumstantial. As Rae says, “out of the event, people felt that he was homosexual. But I don’t know if he was homosexual.”
So what we have now is hero-worshipping of a “gay pioneer” (as the monument describes him) who may not have actually been gay — but at least we know that he was definitely a pervert. And apparently that’s a good enough reason to burn through $100,000 in public funds — along with another $100,000 from the local Business Improvement Association — to erect a tribute.
This week, I went to check out the monument myself. What I discovered was a phenomenon completely omitted by the politically correct media types who have been reporting on this thing like it’s a statue of George Washington.
On the west side of the monument there’s a bronze plaque that graphically depicts a young man standing with his pants down around his knees. Wood is kneeling down in front of him, manhandling his trouser-snake. This, in the middle of the city’s supposedly family-friendly tourist district.
Councillor Rae suggests that people who venture into the area know what they’re getting themselves into, saying, “Frankly, I think it’s important for parents to have to describe things to their children. What is the tourist destination? It’s the gay community.”
Yes, it is the gay community. For kids, that should mean lots of pretty rainbows and purple Teletubbies — not an illustration of something that could pass for a scene out of the Michael Jackson trial. If two people — gay or straight — were acting out this same type of thing in public, they’d be tossed in the slammer.
Rae counters that “on the north side of [the monument], there’s trees and bush, and it depicts how [Wood’s property] looked, and if you look very carefully there are owls in the trees, squirrels — and that’s great for kids.”
Oh, lovely. So when families who wander out of Bloor-Yorkville are ambushed by this abomination, parents can quickly grab their kids by the back of the head and press their little noses up against the Disney scene that graces the adjacent side of the monument?
I was at a recent showing of the animated film Madagascar, during which wailing kids clearly had a tough enough time wrapping their brains around the idea of a lion suddenly wanting to devour his zebra best friend. Just imagine the train wreck of trying to explain the story and glorification of sexual abuser Alexander Wood to a child.
Patchen Barss, spokesman for Mayor David Miller, told me this week that “as a city, we should celebrate Alexander Wood for his association with gay rights, for the way he supported Toronto’s tradition of respect for diversity, and also for his cheekiness and sense of humour.”
“Cheekiness” only describes the shiny, round backside of Wood’s victim, as depicted by the monument — not Wood himself. This statement is nothing but spun-out revisionist history that only serves to whitewash a sordid tale of abuse.
I’m one of the least prudish people you’ll ever meet. I’ve defended freedom of speech on the airwaves and have written columns in support of shock-jocks and raunchy comics. But none of these things are on full public display, right smack in the middle of tourist central. Parents should at least have some control in the matter — particularly given that the monument’s message of abuse glorification is both inexplicable and indefensible.
The fact that taxpayers have funded this is a total disgrace.
PUBLISHED: NATIONAL POST (June 11/05)
COPYRIGHT 2005 RACHEL MARSDEN