What's that, Mark Kingwell? I can't quite hear you from the top of your ivory tower.
Modern distributive models of justice rightly place emphasis on the fate of the least well off; in a non-distributive idea of justice, we can update and expand this idea: a city, like a people, shall be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. These may not necessarily be the poorest: consider the systematic disadvantage, in an idea economy, of truncated education, learning disability, and low access to the technologies of success. Torontonians talk about the value of otherness, celebrating cultural diversity in word, but they do not walk that walk. The smug inwardness of our de facto stealth neighbourhoods, the vertical gated communities of condo developments, the lifetime preoccupation with the averted gaze — all this shows city not confident enough to engage with itself. The gravity of downtown is reduced, as so often, to the cash nexus of shopping, democracy soured into a form of narcissistic pathology and sense of entitlement for a few, invisibility for the many. Race and class, poverty and hatred cannot find a point of intervention when the discursive space of the city is limited to surfaces.
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