Story about life in TCHC building provokes strong reaction
No matter how you tell a story, there is no pleasing some people.
The Saturday Fixer kicked off a week of columns about problems in Toronto Community Housing with a story about the abuse that Steven Peacock and his partner, Stephan Premdas, have taken from neighbours in the apartment above them at 200 Wellesley St. E.
Their balcony was showered many time with feces and urine, washed down by bleach, from the balcony of the two-bedroom apartment above, which is occupied by 15 to 20 people, far more than the TCHC allows.
Things that were lit on fire, like rags and toilet paper tubes, were also lobbed onto their balcony from above, while a stream of verbal abuse was shouted at them and thumping and screaming constantly goes on late into the night.
We offered it as a slice of life in a TCHC building, but some readers responded that they felt no sympathy for them, or anyone else who lives in community housing.
"What a stupid story to write," said Frederick Moore in an email. "The answer to their problem is called - MOVE.
"What are these two people doing living off taxpayers' money anyway? Move and get a job."
As for the upstairs tenants causing the problem, "well, what do you expect from ignorant immigrants, which I bet is what they are, and I could likely tell you from what country.
"Public housing for the most part in this country is a big joke. Most of the people living there should not be. You cannot expect people used to living in mud huts and filth to all of a sudden know what dirt looks like."
How about that for good 'ol Canadian tolerance?
Carlos A. Coimbra's email said the story "seems to display a xenophobic, racist attitude," because it mentioned "tirades shouted in a foreign tongue," and that a woman in the upstairs apartment "spoke a rapid-fire foreign language to a boy."
"Please note that my comment...concerns itself only with the obvious perception that you, the writer, show aversion to any language other than English.
"Shameful words," he said, adding that "There's more than one way to say 'a language not known to the listener,' but here you embarrassed the Star."
By making reference to foreign language, we were trying to politely convey information about the people in the upstairs apartment without identifying their ethnicity, but Coimbra sees racism in it.
I wonder what he'd have thought if I been more direct?