Monday, September 15, 2014

I am intolerant.

Stupidity can be addictive.

I wish I hadn't written that. What I want to say without sounding like an Ivory Tower jerk is that if you are going to purport to speak for me, whether it is in our august house or in church or at the local publican, I would rather that you read slightly more than the blurbs for books written by Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Paulo Cuehlo or Donald Trump. Read the whole book. Keep a copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary by your side; there will be words whose sense you will find extremely difficult to determine. Read widely. And Lord help me, but if you quote any American self-help guru, do not be offended if I snigger in derision.

On this rather sunny Monday, I am informed that I am expected to vote at a referendum in August 2015. I intend to sit with one or two of my peers an listen to their justifications for or against the idea. I will not be surprised if between the three of us there are ten opinions; I am after all a lawyer and I will be for against, partly for, partly against, mostly for, mostly against and undecided on the whole affair. Or it will seem like I am anyway. What I will not attempt, nor will my friends, is to speak for someone who has the capacity to think for themselves. I will make a decision regarding the spectacular waste of my time (are an act of great patriotism) that is the referendum.

But there is a group of men and women who have made it their mission in life to pretend to know what I would or would not approve, want, like, et cetera. One of them is a bald-headed, mustachioed-goateed bruiser from Kiambu who's obsessions are peculiar, even by Kenyan standards. Another has a slight squint, a tremulous alto and an inferiority complex that frequently calls for a hyperbolic conversational style and a multi-SUV cavalcade that's frequently running out of money. Still there is one who refuses to call herself a "journalist", has a massive superiority complex and who wishes to join certain clubs without just quite meeting the minimum requirements. She tries, but trying is not enough. Another has become the voice of the male-female minefield though he remains unencumbered by spouses or children so far as we know. Then there is that pair that have done a lot to elevate the degree of public debate without quite doing that; they have, however, managed to sensationalise public affairs using a crass veneer of quasi-intellectual discourse.

It is exhausting listening to these people. The willpower it takes not to rip out the home theatre system (borrowed) or the flat-screen TV (three installments remaining) from the wall (there will be a fee for the repairs once I "shift") and hurling them over the balcony (rented) onto the street below (it is a quiet street) is overwhelming sometimes. As a person who has witnessed the rise of the techno-society of screens and cables and broadband Wi-Fi, I am willing to tolerate a certain degree of loucheness when it comes to the employment of certain rules of grammar, syntax and sentence construction, in any language. My friend Leonard will tell you that it is the Octal System that rules our lives today.

I am prepared to turn a blind eye to the perfidious nature of the ruling classes and I will tolerate their avarice in their quest for ever more creature comforts. We are, after all, spectacularly selfish, though we are loath to admit it. I am prepared to harden my heart against the privations and depredations that the huddled and unwashed masses endure; life is not fair, is it? However, I am prepared to be intolerant, and to display my intolerance in extreme ways, of those who take to the public arena and mouth inanities. I am intolerant of those who will scoff at ideas because they do not understand those ideas. I am intolerant of those whose conceptualisation of public discourse is reduced to peculiar obsessions with penises, or marital infidelity, or Stalinist militarisation of public institutions. My intolerance is unremitting against the buffoon. I wear it with pride.

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