Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, August 22

Outtalking Prince

I once had a conversation with a family member, who liked a song by Prince. Now I don’t personally like said song, but my thoughts on musical preference are neither here nor there as long as it makes you happy. Anyway, this person and I were sitting in the living room one day watching French/African MTV when a music video came on with the song in question. My family member was seriously rocking out to it… until he stopped and asked if Prince was gay. Yes, I suppose he is. This was enough cause to immediately stop dancing, sit down, and start doing something completely different whilst ignoring the television.

What’s wrong? He’s gay. Yeah, and? His life is awful. Really? He is a very bad person. How’s that? It’s wrong to be gay.

At this point I’ll stop and let you imagine the 20 minutes conversation contesting that point; or rather my family member in particular saying so. I’m no gay rights activist or anything, but I do believe that your preferences are between you and whomever you’re accountable to… and therefore other people should have no claim on telling you what you can or can’t do about that (assuming you’re not harmfully affecting others because of these preferences).

Anyway, gay is not the point. Eventually we got onto 2 other interesting concepts:
1. The world is going to keep changing. It’s adapt or no- but you have to choose a side.
2. You don’t have to like someone to appreciate their work.

Now this first point came about at the tail end of the God conversation. I simply said, “Once upon a time we thought slavery was a good idea, now we don’t. I think it’s time again we reconsidered whether a traditional pastime of ousting whole sectors of the population is a great idea.” My family member, typical Wolof self-righteous male that he is, had a whole slew of meaningless words to say in contrary to that. No real substance I promise you, and therefore wouldn’t shut up about it. This is a common tactic around the world of “if you can’t win the argument by being correct, just out talk the other person.” Thanks, debate club.

Moving on, I made my next point. I don’t have to like my plumber’s preference to not wear a belt with his pants… but this doesn’t stop me from appreciating his ability to fix my flooding toilet. I don’t like the sept-place driver’s choice of continuous screeching prier music, but I appreciate his ability to get me safely from A to B. I don’t like that the guy in the mayor’s office talks about my butt every time I see him, but he’s doing a great job of reorganizing the city of Mboro by assigning numbers and neighborhoods to every house. Come to think of it, this list might continue for a while… but I suspect you catch my drift.

My family member didn’t, however, and he made another tiresome attempt to discredit this idea. He could not accept that although he may not appreciate Prince’s extracurricular activities, that shouldn’t be a reason to ignore a song that obviously appeased his ears. Somehow, apparently, this one fact has tainted Prince’s entire existence. A shame, really as I feel passionately about good music and a world without it. In rebuttal I told my family member that I didn’t’ like the way he didn’t live in our house but yet appeared every day demanding the best drink and food be served to him. This in light of the fact that he contributed nothing to the household as he refuses to interrupt his busy schedule of roaming from house to house with silly notions of income generating work. I said that this tainted his entire existence in my eyes, and I therefore could not enjoy him. Then I left the room.

I’m sorry to say that I was quite tired at this juncture in our conversation. Admittedly, I my blood was also boiling. I think of this as the point where I realize I was never engaged a rational conversation. I was being told. Maybe I was even out talked. Insert clichés about not teaching old dogs new tricks or whatever… but I accept that some people just don’t listen to other points of view. They only talk. I however, don’t enjoy spending time with those people… regardless of how they feel about Prince.

1 comment:

  1. One of the weirdest comments on gays that I have encountered in Senegal was "you know, homosexuality comes from freemasons. and they do these pervert things just to gain money or power." This was in addition to gays being "unnatural, bad, disgusting etc." I had an hour-long discussion about homosexuality then, and have tried to not talk about the issue since as it will only make me furious. The famous tolerance of Senegal only goes so far...

    Anyway, good luck with the self-righteous machos, there are plenty of them here :)

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