Lake–Oh You Gone

Did Garrison Keeler became the latest and unlikeliest casualty of 2017’s moral panic/political purge because of a defense of Al Franken in the Washington Post  he published just yesterday?

Al Franken…did USO tours overseas…the show he did was broad comedy of a sort that goes back to the Middle Ages…If you thought that Al stood outdoors at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and told stories about small-town life in the Midwest, you were wrong. On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken. Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.

The mild Minnesotan hasn’t the energy to defend himself.

 “It’s some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, but I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this,” he said. “And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969.”

His decency is genuine, his position untenable. At this stage in the panic/purge the accusations are convictions and the convicted gone in a cloud of dust:

Effective immediately, MPR said, it will no longer distribute and broadcast Mr. Keillor’s remaining programs, “The Writer’s Almanac” and “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion Hosted by Garrison Keillor.”

Keilor cancelled his public appearances, and MPR is moving swiftly to remove his trace:

It will also change the name of American Public Media’s current incarnation of the show, which Chris Thile, a songwriter and mandolinist, took over in October 2016, after Mr. Keillor stepped down. 

We’re thisclose to airbrushing people out of photos. In announcing the name change it’s almost as if they’re sending a signal, or rubbing it in at least. In his defense of Franken Keilor ridiculed the practice of renaming things out of political correctness:

 My friend Pastor B.D. Christensen said something so good Sunday morning that I woke up and wrote it down: “[something something] . . . about making peace with the mistakes of the past [blah blah blah] and learning from them. It’s slippery ground, in general, to judge past actions by present standards and with a benefit of hindsight that is, morally, highly questionable.” 

And immediately I thought about the Minneapolis Park Board voting to rename Lake Calhoun as Lake Bde Maka Ska because the man for whom it was named back in the early 1820s was a slavery enthusiast from South Carolina and an author of the Indian Removal Act and also, judging from his pictures, ugly as a mud fence.

Your critique of the effectiveness of renaming will be taken under consideration Mister…uh…Mis-ter…um…?
But that part about projecting present “standards” onto past acts is interesting–are they standards, exactly, we’re invoking? Because that past, despite its presumed pre-feminist blight, is distinguishable from this one by people old enough to remember as having considerably higher standards.

“I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard. Most stories are” Keilor lamented. How true. Diversity and feminism are killing us–through the culture. Ever more groups to offend, to placate with unearned representation. Diversity is a web we’re in.

The purge and social justice aren’t interested in “interesting”. They deplore it. That’s a genuine tragedy–the dampening effect of diversity and political correctness on culture, where, just for starters, less and less can be said for greater and greater risk of giving offense.

But Keilor is above all else inoffensive–and liberal. So it makes me think again he’s being punished for that op ed, which may soon be memory-holed along with Keilor. The Post attached this disclaimer to the (now) dangerous and suspect words:

Update, 1:14 p.m. Nov. 29: After we published this column, Minnesota Public Radio announced it was terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor due to “allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.” The Post takes allegations of this kind seriously and is seeking more information about them.

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