Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The air of entitlement

I went up to Costa Coffee this morning to do some writing. I have a huge penchant for writing on Bank Holidays. It makes me feel unbelievably virtuous, and I rather like the different pace of life. No posh school children, no travelling salesmen and no yummy mummies plotting charity fundraising galas. (Ah! Highgate!)

What I DID find myself tuning into, however, was the sound of two five-year olds chanting, "baby-ccino, baby-ccino, hurry up, hurry up" ad nauseam. A baby-ccino (for those without children born in the last ten years) is a license to print money at the expense of indulgent parents. It's a cappuccino for babies. Another ghastly portmanteau. Hot milk with a few sprinkles of chocolate. Rip off Britain. 

I went back to the gym just before lunch. I'm officially back in the saddle. It went rather smoothly and I feel so much better as a result, almost as though my arteries are no longer clogged up with Quality Street.

There was a bloke in the changing room who plainly considered his personal music to be so important that he felt the rest of the changing room ought to listen to it whilst he cooled down from his work out. And and it wasn't just any sort of music. It was rap music where every other word was either f**k or s**t. I tuned in at one point to hear the phrase, "the only thing you can count on in life are taxes, death and rape." Charming. He was happily joining in with the last word of every line, which brought even more attention to the foulness of language.

The lad had a distinct air of entitlement about him which suggested that there was no point in telling him to turn his mucus (no typo there) down or off. There is an aggression present in some young black men which can sometimes be staggering. Yes, I am aware that the same arrogance and aggression can be present in young men (and women) of all colours and creeds and furthermore that there could be some kind of innate fear in me which is somehow more likely to spot this sort of behaviour in young black men.

I don't feel like a racist, but I'm certainly aware that I respond negatively to those who delight in aggressive behaviour be they black or white. I have extremely liberal morals. If it doesn't cause anyone else unwanted pain, I pretty much think it's fair game, but what I find difficult in society at the moment, is that if you try to suggest that there are specific problems lurking within a minority group, there's always someone on standby to scream racism.

Plainly not all young black men behave aggressively, and it would be wholly unacceptable to claim as much, but if there is evidence which suggests that young black men are more likely to behave in an antisocially aggressive manner, for whatever reason, I would argue that there's an obligation to look into the issue. The problem is that no one is brave enough to suggest this particular thesis be tested. The only people who stick their heads above the parapet in this argument are ghastly right wing self-publicists, like Katie Hopkins, who say everything for shock value and, quite rightly, get torn apart by the world.

As a gay man, of course, I am only allowed to talk with any degree of authority about my own community. But there is a parallel. Gay men of my generation tend to be more promiscuous. I use my words carefully. Not all gay men of my generation are promiscuous, but a larger percentage are. Promiscuity is not a bad thing in my books, but the spread of AIDS was, and it was important to find ways to stop it. Homophobia, lack of role models and simply being men, forced gay men into the fringes of society, where, for countless generations, they developed their own codes of conduct and concepts of morality. And though it's incredibly controversial to say, promiscuity almost certainly led to a faster spread of HIV/AIDS within the gay community. Thatcher's government set out to make gay men feel even more isolated, and it was only when we were welcomed in from the cold with the annulment of laws which promoted homophobia, that the behaviour of gay men started to change and the stigma was reversed. I would say most young gay men these days have remarkably similar morals to their straight counterparts.

So, I suppose the important question to ask is whether we NEED a situation to change. It could be that I am simply old and out of touch, and that this sort of vaguely aggressive behaviour is the shape of things to come and a thoroughly acceptable development for society. But if there is an issue developing, I suggest it might be worth some form of open-minded discussion.

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