December 11th, 2017

What was that name again? (Garrison Keillor, unperson)

[UPDATE 6:30 PM: It’s come to my attention that MPR may have done this because, when it severed its relationship with Keillor and his companies, it may have lost at least some of its rights to post the material from his shows at its website. See this. Of course, one of the reasons they may have severed the relationship in the first place is that they were eager to divest themselves of all connection with him. It’s not clear what the legal situation actually is in regard to the archives; the message was that MPR does not fully own the rights.]

One of the most fascinating portions of Orwell’s brilliant Nineteen Eighty-Four is Newspeak, an invented language that he presents in his dystopic book as the language of Ingsoc (English Socialism). I read that book when I was about twelve years old and it scared the proverbial crap out of me, but I sure remember a lot about it.

Like the term “unperson”:

An unperson is someone who has been “vaporized”—not only killed by the state, but erased from existence. Such a person would be written out of existing books, photographs and articles so that no trace of their existence could be found in the historical record. The idea is that such a person would, according to the principles of doublethink, be forgotten completely (for it would be impossible to provide evidence of their existence), even by close friends and family.

Mentioning an unperson’s name, or even speaking of their past existence, is itself thoughtcrime; the concept that the person may have existed at one time and has disappeared cannot be expressed in Newspeak.

That’s pretty extreme. But it’s based on the sort of thing that actually happened in the USSR.

And now (except for the actual killing part), it’s apparently happening to Prarie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor.

Whether you previously liked Keillor or not, let me just say that, although I’ve never been a Keillor fan (I just don’t get “bachelor farmer” humor, for example), and although I disagree with what I know of his politics, what has happened to his oeuvre is really chilling and also sad:

Keillor and his entire body of work from “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Writer’s Almanac” have been effectively erased from the archives of MPR, along with the work of all the other storytellers, singers, poets and production staff who made the shows successful.

..[But] Spacey’s movies still remain available, as are those that Harvey Weinstein produced. If Hollywood were to follow MPR’s Memory Hole model, we would also lose “The Usual Suspects,” “American Beauty,” and “L.A. Confidential.” We would lose “The English Patient,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction,” and hundreds of other movies and television shows.

We don’t really want that to happen. The internet is already fragile, brimming with rotten links and ephemeral websites. And when news organizations are bought out or go bankrupt, as was the case most recently with The Gothamist, the work of reporters disappears, a loss to a community’s understanding of its past…

As consumers of news, entertainment and art, we should be able to choose what we want to watch. If you’re uncomfortable with the work of sleazy movie stars, celebrities and producers, then you can ignore them. That shouldn’t be MPR’s call.

Ah, but the erasure of history is a thing now, don’t you know? Remember the tearing down of the monuments?

Sometimes I think people have gone mad in their race to show who’s the most righteous of all in pursuing and destroying the witches of our age.

[NOTE: By the way, although MPR has never said what the charges were except that they involved “sexual misconduct,” which covers a multitude of sins, we do have Keillor’s description. If the following is actually the gist of Keillor’s alleged offense (and we have no way to know if it is or isn’t; there certainly might be lot more, but the silence from MPR is odd), the punishment seems way out of line:

“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” he told Minneapolis’ Star-Tribune, “I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called…

Keillor adds:

If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the beltline, I’d have at least a hundred dollars. So this is poetic irony of a high order.

So, is he alleging that women are regularly feeling him up in the genitalia while taking selfies? A hundred women? Garrison Keillor? Forgive me if I find this a trifle difficult to believe.]

[ADDENDUM: In the comments, it’s been pointed out to me that maybe Keillor is saying the 100 women groped him in the butt rather than the genitals. On reflection, I think that may be it. I’m not in the habit of feeling men up when I’m not already in a very intimate relationship with them, so I may not be up on my technique. When I read the word “around” I took it literally, as in “all the way around.” But I see that that’s not a reading justified by the text, as they say.

So if it’s the butt, I still wonder about 100 woman. But maybe.]

42 Responses to “What was that name again? (Garrison Keillor, unperson)”

  1. Oldflyer Says:

    Well, I interpreted his comment to mean they were touching his butt; but, I don’t know.

    I sometimes listened to PHC if it were on while driving. I confess that while it passed the time, I never understood the attraction. After he decided to share his political views, I lost interest in him altogether–in fact, he became a personal unperson.

    This epidemic of sexual harassment, as opposed to actual assault, smacks of a hysterical movement. Soon, I fear, the bonfires will be kindled. But, it makes me reflect on my own sins of so long ago, when I was not above making unwanted sexual advances, invariably rebuffed. Girls, seemed more adept at handling those situations back in the day; and chauvinist boys respected their “privacy”. I confess that I really have no regrets.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    “at LEAST a hundred.”

    More than 10o. Sure. Don’t forget that women can be sluts when fame is concerned.

  3. vanderleun Says:

    Men can be sluts too. But in different clothing. (Usually.)

  4. Sam L. Says:

    The first time I saw him, on TV, I thought “His face resembles a Pekinese.”

  5. AesopFan Says:

    I usually enjoyed PHC in the early days, but Keillor made it into a political platform far too often.
    Instapundit is “on the case” as well, and links to a story that might explain why the response to Keillor’s fall from grace is so much more encompassing than some of the others. It turns out he wasn’t enough of a purist (and he was retiring at the end of the season anyway, so they get virtue points without really losing anything money-wise).

    https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/282956/
    links to this:
    http://freebeacon.com/politics/guest-hillary-clinton-fundraiser-gay-parents-bad-kids/
    “December 15, 2015 2:30 pm

    The special guest at a Tuesday Hillary Clinton fundraiser drew the ire of the gay community in 2007 for an essay he wrote arguing that traditional marriage was better for a child than being raised by a gay couple.

    Garrison Keillor, the longtime host of NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” was labeled the “prairie homophobic companion” after the publication of his Salon article that complained that the “country has come to accept stereotypical gay men.”

    “I grew up the child of a mixed-gender marriage that lasted until death parted them, and I could tell you about how good that is for children,” Keillor wrote in an article titled “Stating the Obvious.”

    “Back in the day, that was the standard arrangement. Everyone had a yard, a garage, a female mom, a male dad, and a refrigerator with leftover boiled potatoes in plastic dishes with snap-on lids.”

    Keillor’s complaint was that the standard arrangement that was so beneficial to children of his generation was falling apart.”

  6. Griffin Says:

    ‘We would lose ‘The English Patient’ well that would be one positive from this whole hysteria. Lord, I hated that movie and it was like seven hours long.

    But seriously I have to think this comes back to money. The outlets that are still making a fair amount of coin off of these perps will continue along but if your catalog is getting a little long in the tooth get ready for the purge, baby!

  7. AesopFan Says:

    Keillor and The Prairie Home Companion are just too much like the Deplorables to be rescued by his support of Democrats in general.

    On the subject of “disappearing” artists whose ethics or politics are found objectionable by the current Kommissars, there are quite a few in the past who have had to be rehabilitated or excused.
    It always depends on what value the Kommissars see in their work.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/12/21/super-goethe/

    [This is a very very very long book review, but contains much that is on point for today’s frenzy. Goethe is kind of a mixed bag, though. There is much in him that resonates with the SJWs and OWS crew – not least that he was upper-middle-class himself and despised the Volk that he was later reified by.
    However, some of his principles are no longer PC, or at least not if publicly admitted. Despite that, he is clearly a fore-runner of the leftist tyrants, even though he did not support the French Revolution itself; Napoleon, of course, was on the Revolutionaries in their final incarnation, just as Stalin was with the Communists.]

    “Goethe’s company could be exhausting. One minute he would be reciting Scottish ballads, quoting long snatches from Voltaire, or declaiming a love poem he had just made up; the next, he would be smashing the crockery or climbing the Brocken mountain through the fog. Only in old age, and more so in the afterglow of posterity, did he take on the mantle of the dignified sage. …

    He alarmed people as much as he charmed them, not only by his impatience, his sudden flare-ups, and his unpredictable antics, but by his foul language.

    Goethe’s Venetian Epigrams cheerfully skitter through masturbation, sodomy, and oral sex, with sideswipes at coffee shops and yo-yos (one of the first mentions of the toy).
    ..
    This Goethe had to be cleaned up quite a bit to become the national poet of the resurgent Germany of the later nineteenth century…. The centenary of his birth in 1849 passed with relatively little notice. It was the British who led the way in revaluing Goethe as the genius for the new serious age.
    ..
    After the collapse of Germany in 1945, only the figure of Goethe was still visibly upright amid the ruins as a source of national moral authority. …
    [not a high bar at that point-AF]

    Johann Wolfgang Goethe (he earned the “von” after seven years in the duke’s service) was born to the plush if not the purple. …The boy was spoiled and self-confident from the start. At the age of seven, he wrote, “I cannot reconcile myself to what is satisfactory for other people.”…

    Goethe was a boundless, energetic, uninhibited character who happened to be the most famous author in Germany. In his early twenties he had boasted to his friend Kestner: “Between you and me I know something about girls.” His first letters from Weimar record that “I’m leading a pretty wild life here.” It was common gossip that almost as part of his duties, he was constantly out with the duke sharing the local girls.

    In Berlin or Dresden, Goethe would have been a minor functionary. At Weimar, provided he kept on the right side of the duke, a good-natured chap, he was a lion.

    But his long stay at court did not come without a moral cost. After his death, Goethe was often denounced as a prince’s toady, and a selfish escapist, until he was rescued by the new Germany’s need for a national bard. Weimar certainly was a refuge. Goethe was able to sit out the French Revolution, burying himself in his scientific work without offering a single political comment for six months after the fall of the Bastille.

    He remained, though, steadfastly opposed to anything resembling a popular constitution. He supported Metternich’s Carlsbad Decrees, which introduced press censorship, the police investigation of dissidents, and state control of universities. Even after the great German defeat at nearby Jena in 1806, he refused to mourn the loss of liberty:…
    Goethe hero-worshiped Napoleon from first to last,

    The hard outlines of Goethe’s character might be blurred by his nineteenth-century admirers, but they were always there for those who cared to look. And no one looked more intently at Goethe than Friedrich Nietzsche. In Twilight of the Idols, he tells us that “Goethe is the last German before whom I feel reverence.” Only Goethe had treated the French Revolution and the doctrine of equality with the disgust they deserved.

    This Superman—for that is what Nietzsche is describing, though he does not apply the term directly to Goethe—is ultimately a frightening figure. He acknowledges no external limits on his will, his actions are self-validating, he is beyond scruples. Nothing forbidden except weakness? Give me a little weakness every time. Hardness only leads to hardness. I am not the first to note that included among the sights of Weimar in the Michelin Green Guide is Buchenwald.”

  8. Paul in Boston Says:

    From MPR

    https://www.mpr.org/press/2017/11/29/statement-from-minnesota-public-radio-regarding-garrison-keillor-and-a-prairie-home-compa

    If Keillor owns the show, then they may not have permission to rebroadcast his stuff, as if they’d want to.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Griffin:

    I’m with you on “The English Patient.” Couldn’t stand it; didn’t see what the hype was about.

  10. Tom Says:

    I read it as “slipped onto the butt”. I don’t think I know any women who could put an arm around me and reach my crutch, but maybe that’s because of the size of my belly.

  11. neo-neocon Says:

    Tom:

    You’re probably right.

    I’m not in the habit of feeling men up when I’m not already in a very intimate relationship with them, so I may not be up on my technique. When I read the word “around” I took it literally, as in “all the way around.” But I see that that’s not a reading justified by the text, as they say.

    So if it’s the butt, I still wonder about 100 woman. But maybe.

  12. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Well, I stopped listening to Keillor after he went political, but for years his show was a piece of Americana, and he had some very clever writing and the music was wonderful.
    It was an old time radio show.
    And it was morally positive.
    And American.
    I was sorry to see him go so lib, like the Click and Clack the Car Talk guys did, as it meant I could no longer listen.
    I find it hard to believe he deserved this.

  13. Frederick Says:

    Don’t think he’s saying he was “groped”. I think he means “incidental contact”, which he believes is what he is being punished for.

  14. Ray Says:

    The leftists are always revising history. In the late great USSR they joked that the future was always certain but the past was always changing.

  15. TommyJay Says:

    I was going to bring up Keillor a week or so ago, as an outrageous example of #MeToo run amok, but Neo can choose her own topics.

    Of course, it may not be outrageous overreach, because we don’t have the other side of the conflict telling her story. Why not? I completely agree with the principle of public anonymity for a rape case, but one instance of inappropriate touching? In the realm of wildly wishful thinking, don’t we or the MN tax-payers and Keillor have a right to her side of the story and how much compensation she is demanding?

    As to Neo’s skepticism of Keillor’s counterclaim, I’d say that the guy has been a minor star since 1974. He’s probably done thousands of photo ops, many at a time when he was a much younger man. And a butt grab seems more likely to me too.

    Finally, Neo’s spot-on about the Orwellian nature of it all. Isn’t it ironic that Minnesota Public Radio is being much less transparent than some garden variety publicly traded corporation?

    PS: Speaking of the erasure of history, news, and art: I looked up something on the web recently and found exactly what I wanted put out by some small but ambitious and very knowledgeable blogger of a decade ago. The front end of the site still worked but the back-end with all the info was broken. After a few searches with the key words “Internet Archive” I was able to retrieve all of the info. I knew that stuff existed, but had never tried to access it.

  16. miklos000rosza Says:

    I disliked Garrison Keillor’s schtick when I first heard him on the radio, way back in the 1980s, when some nurses had the radio on in their break room in ER. I just knew “This isn’t for me.”

    But then, as has been illustrated here on this site a few times, in terms of cultural matters and entertainment, I’m often quite hard to please.

  17. Ann Says:

    They’re dropping like flies. Now it’s Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker.

  18. Griffin Says:

    How long do we think it will be before some of these insider types like Halperin, Thrush and Lizza start resurfacing? Do we really think the left is going to excommunicate these guys for life? Seems unlikely to me.

  19. physicsguy Says:

    I think last week I read that this is all just a set up (the whole shtick, not just Keilor) to go after Trump. Well, today the famous 3 repeated their charge of harassment against Trump on Megyn Kelly’s show and called for a Congressional investigation, so it looks like the “game is afoot”. If Franken resigns due to the Dems being so pure and noble, then Trump must go also, right??

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    physicsguy:

    I don’t think there’s been much question that the focus is to try to get Trump.

  21. Gringo Says:

    Paul in Boston
    If Keillor owns the show, then they may not have permission to rebroadcast his stuff, as if they’d want to.
    That would appear to be the case. Minnesota Public Radio:Frequently Asked Questions.

    Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) recently terminated its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies. (MPR cannot discuss specific details. Here is the full statement.) (link at Paul’s comment.)MPR does not fully own the rights to continue to use the names or provide archive content for A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and The Writer’s Almanac programs. Garrison Keillor and his companies own many of the rights to this artistic content.

    As such, it is not so much an “Orwellian” erasure. It looks more like retaliation. In retaliation for being kicked out of the MPR game, Keillor is taking his ball- his ownership of PHC programs- and going home. Never tee off the guy who brings the ball to the pickup ball game. Basic childhood rule. Unless you are willing to stop the game- which in this case is the PHC archive.

    I suspect there is more behind the scenes about his misbehavior that is not being reported.

    Neo:
    I’ve never been a Keillor fan (I just don’t get “bachelor farmer” humor, for example)

    I was born and raised in a small town. All of my grandparents came from farms in the grasslands. One grandfather became a teacher but he and my grandmother moved back to the family farm in their 50s. Much of what Keillor described resonated with me.

    While I didn’t know any Norwegian bachelor farmers, a neighbor farmer to my grandparents was a lifelong bachelor. Six months after his mother died, when he was in his 50s, he married. When I was back in town to bury my parents’ ashes on the family plot, I stopped in and said hello to him. “Don’t do what I did and hold off marriage so long,” he told me.

    Tired of the reruns, I stopped listening to PHC shortly before Keilllor’s Republican/Bush Derangement Syndrome became rampant.

  22. Ann Says:

    Best reaction to the awful The English Patient was Elaine’s in this Seinfeld episode.

  23. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    Although he is obviously talented, entertaining, and a clever observer, I have always found Keilor’s subtle sneers and condescending voyeurism of ordinary decent small town people very offputting. Nonetheless, I fully agree with you, Neo, that the “unpersoning” of him is chilling and wrong, but — given the mindset of liberal fascism — predictable.

  24. MollyNH Says:

    Virtue signalling, see they can even eat their own.
    Ironically pleasing, saw a forlorn pic of GK the other day made me laugh.

  25. David Foster Says:

    So, if it were to turn out that the lead designer of a major building had engaged in very bad sexual harassment, then should be building be destroyed?

  26. David Foster Says:

    AesopFan…Goethe to Kestner: ““Between you and me I know something about girls.”

    Goethe offered some thoughts on that very subject, in the context of cultural differences between Englishmen and Germans, in an essay that I excerpted here:

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/25053.html

  27. Richard Aubrey Says:

    The first PHC I heard might not have been the earliest episodes. I was annoyed by what seemed to have been subtle sneering at the folks of Lake Wobegon, marketed to an audience who needed somebody to be superior to, if it had to be fiction.
    As to butts, GK wasn’t just a “star”. He was a star comedian and perhaps that idea, that ambiance, led an occasional woman to grab his butt as a joke. “I can joke, too.”

  28. Lee Says:

    Griffin — Totes with you on the English Patient. An endless movie that bored me to tears.

    I hated the featured couple, Ralph Fiennes character and his main squeeze. They couldn’t die fast enough. The Sikh dude and the nurse were far more interesting. The one thing that bummed me out was that it didn’t become a big fashion influence. I’ve always like khaki.

    Which unperson was in that film?

    Also hated American Beauty. That would be no loss.

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    Lee:

    Go here and scroll down to the “Produced by” column. Two of the executive producers were the Weinstein brothers.

  30. AesopFan Says:

    David Foster Says:
    December 11th, 2017 at 5:57 pm
    AesopFan…Goethe to Kestner: ““Between you and me I know something about girls.”

    Goethe offered some thoughts on that very subject, in the context of cultural differences between Englishmen and Germans, in an essay that I excerpted here:

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/25053.html
    * * *
    Many thanks for the link. The essay and associated comments were very informative. I have an interest in German history of the 19th-century (doing a bit of alternate-universe fiction writing).

  31. AesopFan Says:

    Griffin Says:
    December 11th, 2017 at 4:52 pm
    How long do we think it will be before some of these insider types like Halperin, Thrush and Lizza start resurfacing? Do we really think the left is going to excommunicate these guys for life? Seems unlikely to me.
    * *
    They certainly recycle everyone else who has been “fired” for “misconduct” (not necessarily sexual) and got caught.
    Happened in the VA, IRS, and I think others.
    Some just move through the revolving door to another office in the same Progressive Building (from government to lobbyist or think tank).
    Dan Rather never retired.
    And then there’s this guy:
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/12/a-stain-on-america.php
    “The president’s comment was prompted in part by an absurd tweet by the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, who was fired by the Post some years ago for his participation in the surreptitious, left-wing JournoList. Weigel rejoined the Post after rehabilitating himself with MSNBC and Slate. I used to say that the Post is the most respectable voice of the Democratic Party, but I am not sure that compliment is still warranted.”

  32. AesopFan Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    December 11th, 2017 at 3:37 pm
    Griffin:

    I’m with you on “The English Patient.” Couldn’t stand it; didn’t see what the hype was about.
    * * *
    Read the book, which was bizarrely interesting, in a kind of what-on-earth-is-going-on? fashion, but skipped the movie. Glad to know I didn’t miss anything.

  33. Lee Says:

    AesopFan —

    Weigel could be “rehabilitated” because in the progressive sphere, his only soon was to get caught. His Journolist thing was morally upstanding n their playbook. He only was briefly given a “time out” in order to give him the opportunity to reflect on what he had done wrong — getting caught — and to figure out how to make sure he doesn’t make that mistake again

  34. Lee Says:

    Plus, Dan Rather’s soon was not lying and making stuff up, it was getting caught, and perhaps not successfully detailing W. Of course, he’d be rehabilitated! His proclamations are shared on Facebook by my progressive friends as though he were some deeply revered, highly moral, man of authority and trust.

  35. Lorenz Gude Says:

    I have learned that The English Patient wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea – so to speak. My sister was incensed by it which is unlike her when it comes to dark material. But for me the movie was life changing because it unflinchingly showed me an important aspect of my personality and demonstrated the consequences of living it out to the bitter end. If you see the movie as taking place inside the Fiennes character and recognize that he is a man who falls obsessively in love by projecting his Anima – as Jung has it – then her outer death is his inner spiritual death. Quite literally, his Anima – his soul has died on the inside. After than , there is only suffering, until the end when the feminine returns to him as an angel of death. The Peace that Passeth all Understanding yes, but in an uneasy form that comes at the end of an a wasted life. Given people’s reaction, I understand why that isn’t fun to watch. but if one is a man who has that potential to utterly destroy himself then The English Patient can be an occasion for pitiless self examination. To be clear I don’t blame anyone for not liking it.

  36. Lurch Says:

    Actually saw a Keillor performance at Ocean Grove, NJ. I was not a big fan but I thought his stuff was cute. Keillor interrupted his performance to announce the passing of President Reagan. The crowd, his fans, responded with APPLAUSE and a smattering of cheers!! I could not believe it. I had to assume he knew what the reaction of his fans would be. I had to assume that he got the reaction he was anticipating. I loathed the man after that STUNT. I am more than happy to learn of his troubles, whether deserved or not. Screw him.

  37. David Foster Says:

    AesopFan…more Goethe goodness here…Goethe, Gretchen, and the Hackers of 1764:

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49069.html

  38. Surellin Says:

    Let’s not forget that Keillor was very handsome when he was younger. They called him the Minnesota Fabio.

  39. Let's Review 16: Happy Hanukkah Edition - American Digest Says:

    […] (Garrison Keillor, unperson) Ah, but the erasure of history is a thing now, don’t you know? Remember the tearing down of the monuments? Sometimes I think people have gone mad in their race to show who’s the most righteous of all in pursuing and destroying the witches of our age. […]

  40. Mark Says:

    A progressive man reaps what a progressive man sows. Oh, the irony. Gal 6:7

  41. Molly Brown Says:

    A friend of mine explained the reason I hated ‘The English Patient’. It’s exactly the opposite of ‘Casablanca’.
    Or was that ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’?

  42. Lorenz Gude Says:

    @Molly Brown. No, it was Casablanca – and that is exactly right – it is the opposite of the English Patient. After I wrote my comment above I asked my sister why she so intensely disliked the English Patient and she it was the women. The blond in the English Patient bears a superficial resemblance to Garbo, but she is limp, lifeless. She is the male leads dying soul, not a flesh and blood woman. Garbo in Casablanca is – heck – everyman’s soul and a lot more besides and she knows it. So does Rick, but neither loses their head. It’s wonderful- for my money the best movie ever made.

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