Charlie Rose skulked offstage like a punch-drunk palooka with barely a whimper, and Matt Lauer offered up the now laughably pro forma press release of bathetic apology and contrition — no doubt micro-managed by his attorneys. But the hit on Garrison Keilor by his old friend Minnesota Public Radio seemed like a new low in the whipping-post politics of the moment.
Unlike the cases of Rose, Lauer, Louis CK, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey, there seemed next to nothing in the case against Keilor. He says he placed his hand on a lady’s bare back, someone on the crew or cast or a guest on The Prairie Home Companion radio show he hosted for close to forty years. Maybe MinnPR has a file full of complaints against the old trooper, but if so they’ve released nothing, no details whatsoever, and unlike the previously “outed” line-up, in Keilor’s case no other “victims” have come forward on their own to establish anything like a pattern of truly bad behavior.
I happen to admire Keilor’s substantial body of work in print and radio, and the public persona he presented, which portrayed a lot of what was honorable, intelligent, charming, and funny in our national character, something we need to be reminded of in this new era of pervasive racketeering, affronts to the first amendment, ubiquitous porno-culture, and Deep State mischief. This may amaze some of you, but to me Keilor deserves to be ranked with Mark Twain as a literary icon. What he gave to his large radio audience over a very long run was of uniformly high quality — something manifestly absent in so many other areas of contemporary life and art.
Keilor was reputed to be a cold-fish backstage and offstage, a prickly Aspergery personality who avoided personal contact. He said as much in his very brief published response to getting fired.
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“Anyone who ever was around my show can tell you that I was the least physically affectionate person in the building,” Keillor said. “Actors hug, musicians hug, people were embracing every Saturday night left and right, and I stood off in the corner like a stone statue.”
To me, the job on Keilor was a hit too far. I hope others out there with their frontal cortexes intact felt themselves crossing a threshold into a strange new un-American society where the merest allegation can instantly send anyone to perdition. It’s gotten to the point where any man who ever made pass at someone is now defined as a sexual predator, feeding the delusional trope that all women are everywhere and always “victims,” and that human nature itself has to be transformed to correct this flaw in human design.
Well, guess what — that’s not going to happen. Men will continue to initiate sexual liaisons and relations. They will make the first move. They will take a chance. They will be advised to act like gentlemen in doing this, but I don’t think that’s quite what the witch-hunters really want right now. The PC movement, with its branches in the media, on campus, and professional politics, is out for coercion and punishment by any means necessary. That’s why there are kangaroo courts in the universities, in case you haven’t noticed. Due process is not just unwelcome, it’s officially scorned as passe. The method du jour in the case of Garrison Keilor, so far, is career and reputational castration.
The so-called thinking class in this country seems unaware that the mixed-gender office workplace — where most jobs can be done by anyone — is a relative novelty in human history. Not only that, but if indeed we’re heading into a long emergency of collapsing techno-industrial arrangements — as I have asserted in my books and blogs — then we may once again find ourselves in world with different divisions of labor, and a manifest change of values to attend it. It’s laughable to me that so many well-educated people assume that our current mode of living is permanent, but I suppose that’s part and parcel of the religion of progress. In the meantime, adults of the two sexes — and there are two sexes, not thirty-two — consort in the workplace with all kinds of stimulation and frisson quickening the scene, and we are foolish enough to be surprised when sexual mischief happens.
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