Friday 9 September 2016

Thought Picnic: In weakness let your discretion rule

Buckled by weakness
History chronicles the lives of many great men brought down by their weaknesses, many through sex and all the accoutrements of seeking that gratification of the flesh.
One can only feel sad for the misfortune that befell Keith Vaz, the Member of Parliament for the Leicester East constituency and Gonville and Caius (pronounced Keez) College graduate of the University of Cambridge. He with the distinction of being the longest serving MP of Asian origin in the House of Commons.
A good head start, one would say and until Tuesday, the influential chairman of the Home Affairs Committee since 2007.
Pursuits of the flesh
I cannot be said that Mr. Vaz had many friends as a politician, he has been dogged by many scandals from which he has deftly extricated himself unscathed and even served a suspension from the House of Commons as a consequence, but with that he had weaknesses that when those became the focus of media attention, none ran to defend him as a symbol worthy of anything less than opprobrium.
As each and every one of us has weaknesses, it would be unfair to dwell on the shortcomings of one man, but there are things one must comment on with regards to his downfall.
Mr. Vaz would apparently have liberal views and tastes along with a penchant for exploring adventurous pursuits of the flesh. Being a married man of 23 years with two children, he was at the weekend exposed as having met for sex with prostitutes, which really is no crime in itself. [Sky News]
The plot congealed
However, the deeper the detail of the story got, it became impossible to bat away any of the tales as media intrusion without any lasting consequence. Mr. Vaz was meeting with male prostitutes for bareback (unsafe) sex on presumably excitement enhancing substances.
Again, there is no crime in adults meeting up for sex and choosing to have any kind of sex they desire, if done with consent. However, there are moral issues that would have arisen about this liaison and other issues of compromise that could result from being exploited by less than discreet and scrupulous partners.
Unbeknownst to him, his liaisons had identified who he was being a high-profile politician on television and they decided to contact the media about their trysts. The videos that then emerge for the scoop that landed on the weekend pages of the newspapers were recorded by the men he met up with.
Discretion above all else
It goes without saying that on matters of straying from the expected, one should choose those one chooses to cover very carefully. It beggars belief that Mr. Vaz took such risks with men who probably had more to gain than to lose with meeting him for sex.
I am of the opinion that meeting with people requires a modicum of understanding the power dynamic between yourselves to understand temperament and honesty of the person to ensure one does no suffer rotten consequences from the relationship. Meeting with people in the same cadre and class, much as some might frown at this anachronism goes a long way in ensuring no one comes to harm, or if any, negligible if the situation turns sour.
The reckless things we do
Beyond this, Mr. Vaz could easily have been the subject of blackmail with the men bilking him for anything they thought they could get away with. It is unimaginable though conceivable that certain people in the know of Mr. Vaz’ interesting tastes might have exacted favours of him by reason of his influential position and his work history is not without controversy.
Invariably, he had to resign from his chair because he was caught in a seriously untenable position that suggested subjective thinking and conflicts of interest in matters over which he had the power to influence, suggest, advice on and promulgate laws.
Tougher days ahead
The other not insignificant matter of his family looms, the wife probably put at risk because of the down-low proclivities of her husband. His wife may never walk out on him, but if she does, she first has to make sense of this development.
Mr. Vaz may not identify as homosexual or bisexual, though there is a growing cohort of seemingly outwardly heterosexual males venturing into a bi-curious phase of sexual experimentation.
His children will be beside themselves in understanding their father, the shock of which will not wear off that easily. There will be some rather difficult talk ahead, with the nuclear family and the extended family.
What next?
Things like this anyone would rather keep private and secret, to have such revealed to the whole world on the yellow journalism pages of English tabloids is a raid on one’s being that one must never wish on one’s worst enemy. However, I think Mr. Vaz will come through this, a bit battered, but unbowed, he was not known as Mr. Vaz(eline); a play on Vaseline, for nothing.
Now this is out in the open, Mr. Vaz also has to decide where his loyalties lie and whether his acquired taste for men is necessary for the full expression of his sexuality. This will also determine the future of his marriage and anything else he does from henceforth.
The lesson for us is to handle our weaknesses with a little more discretion and some smarts about those we choose to exploit those pleasures that derive from our weaknesses with. At risk is position, dignity, status and respect, none of which is easy to earn back once lost.

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