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December 04, 2008


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The important thing is that he's mostly a fossilized jerk, and a bit of a hypocrite:


Also, I'll be naming a child after Dan Savage.

Spike Gomes

Uh Luke, I don't dispute he can be a temperamental and a philanderer, but how could anyone with any familiarity with Keillor's work read the column and *not* think it was just poorly executed satire?

Really, it boils down to a satirist far off his prime shooting and missing his target by miles.


No, Spike, it doesn't. We can go back to Savage again:


Or we can direct quote his issue with the swishes: "sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers....If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control."

If one did a quick search and replace for interracial couples, or blacks, or Latinos, or whatever, it's...unsightly. "Those Orthodox Jews with their funny hats and strangely dressed women had better get that strange nonsense under control if they want to be accepted."

Of course, this isn't shrill xenophobia like Lou Dobbs; Keillor isn't a pro-active bigot like Dobson. He's a passive jerk, who's sort of....old. He's the soft bigotry that wanders around in house slippers and mutters to himself.

Even if he meant to produce some sort of humor in this column, it mostly comes across as mean-spirited, shrill, and sort of pathetic--and sort of only unintentionally funny when he celebrates marriage as life-long and monogamous of his parents, with the clear implication that us faggots can't handle monogamy. More to the point, we make him uncomfortable, with our adding some new structure to people's growing family trees, in lieu of your uncle the confirmed bachelor and his roommate. I'm sure he'd also be wildly uncomfortable with the daughter that married the Chinaman. I think of the column as a sort of awful Freudian Slip; I have no doubt that gays, in fact, make Keillor uncomfortable, and he'd rather that we all have tea with Mr. Tumness than, like, get all up in his space.

He even says "Nature is about continuation of the species—in other words, children. Nature does not care about the emotional well-being of older people." So perhaps we should've banned his third marriage?

In his apology, he attempts the dodge that he lives in a "small" world. If he were actually a resident of St. Paul that never left, that'd be viable--there aren't /that/ many gays up there; but Keillor has worked in 'entertainment' since the 1970's. He worked in New York City during the 1980's, and has maintained a residence on the Upper West Side--watch out, Garrison, there are swishes below 86th street. Danger!

The best part is that he explains that gay people are bigots because they feel besieged in the broader world, and he's the victim. A longstanding member of the entertainment community, with their strange alternative lifestyles, he assumes he has no gay readers, and ran the first column with the title: "TRUTHS ABOUT FAMILY, GENDER AND MIDWESTERN COWBOYS.”

He was not interested in apologizing for being a bigot, so much as the misunderstanding that people had in finding his words offensive. (also, he only hates the swishy gays with toy dogs, not the bears, the leather daddies, the Larry Craig Homosexuals (who he advocates for) and the LEBSIANS. Only the swishes, who he has the most exposure to.)

The problem is that Keillor gives comfort and cover to Dobson's crap. I understand that it's a generational thing, I'd hope he'd change his mind--after all, gay rights have been on the national plank since 1972, the first DNC after Stonewall, and if he doesn't, have the tact and decorum to keep his bigoted thoughts to himself. Would he like to tell Mitch McConnell or Sec. Cohen about how their mixed-race marriages make him uncomfortable?

Oh, and Garrison: Your Gay Friends HATE you.

Spike Gomes

If I may borrow a page from Jussi and Carlos, it's good to see that sly sardonic wit (even blunted, dulled and faulty as it is by age and the corruption of decades of fame) is completely lost on a generation who thinks the toothless and obvious pandering of Stewart and Colbert qualifies as "teh funny".

And really, the notion that Keillor of all people gives "comfort and cover to Dobson's crap"? It's obvious that you haven't read anything of his outside the column that irks you so. I'm a bit more generous than others when it comes to people speaking ex ano about things that are easily referenced, so I'll keep it short.

It was clumsy and tone deaf, no doubt, the work of a man who is going gentle into that good night, buffered by a large bankroll and the forward stumbling inertia of a minor cultural institutionalization. It fails in the most important way most of his Salon columns fail, particularly in light of his early books and radio plays:

They're not entertaining and they're not funny.

But to take them at face value and roasting the guy as a bigot simply shows a remarkable ignorance of the stylistics of the guy who wrote it.

Not that I'm not saying he isn't an asshole, but one mustn't mistake general impolite misanthropy and personal nastiness with some sort of ideological bugbear which we all know is the major cardinal sin of our times.


You first referred to the column in question as satire and now refer to its sardonic wit. The problem is that the part about gay people and gay marriage doesn't in fact functionally satirize anything but gay people, and does a variation on "All Muslims are Terrorists."

I actually grew up in the Midwest and listened to Prairie Home Companion, and watched the movie that Keillor made with Robert Altmann. Institution of NPR American Liberalism, his humor is provincial; and dated.

I do not in fact care if outside of this column, Keillor is totally awesome about interracial marriage and multiculturalism at large, that was the cool new thing when he was coming up. But it's clear that he likes his beer cold, his TV loud, and his homosexuals FLAMING.

More to the point, the issue about the Dobson thing is about norm management; Democrats his age aren't going to be helpful in passing ENDA or anything like that.

Since we have to have to integrate like Jews and acquire civil rights at the same time, by popular vote, which is absurd (you think Washington State would've voted for Interracial marriage when the Warren Court Legalized it? Or that Alabama would've turned out for the Voting Rights Act?) I have a vested interest in roughhousing/shaming/armtwisting actual bigots like Dobson, and enablers, like Keillor. The problem with the column, aside from being totally unfunny and soft-shoe bigot (all gays are swishes!), is that it signals lots of people that "hey, Garrison Keillor is middle of the road and he thinks those swishes should stay away from marriage and adoption, so its OK if I think that" thus keeping that view normative and palatable--and bulwarks the idea that gay rights is a cultural/religious, rather than civil rights issue, though I'm now a suspect class in four states and the District. So, for me to get gay married nationally, my fate hangs between the cast of "Brothers and Sisters" and "Desperate Housewives," and attaching strong negative incentives to ill-conceived humor.

And while you understand gay-bashing to be a "major cardinal sin of our times" but for lots of people, it's a way to pick up votes (Michelle Bachmann). So it's important to flip Keillor off over this, just like people went after Imus--though Imus is an open bigot, while Keillor is just uncomfortable with the gays. I just want to make his old midwestern person discomfort with gays as socially unacceptable as southern people's discomfort with....

Spike Gomes

I see that my point was completely missed. Your ability to read only want you want to see and then rely on bombast to carry you past factual error and misinterpretation as well as the added patronization gives me great confidence in the success of your professional endeavors.

If you want a soapbox and a list of political enemies, you're quite welcome to them. The enterprise makes me feel quite dirty on the other hand. Folks like you (and your intimate and passionate involvement in the grass-roots politics of this country) are the main reason I have chosen to forgo voting for the foreseen future. I've found that I'm a creature who thrives on nuance and subtlety, things anathema to our modern social discourse.

Then again, I could be wrong. There were probably moralists who thought Swift was a disgusting bigot for playing into the stereotype of the fecundity of the Irish (or maybe not, I haven't looked it up).

Suffice to say this is my last word of the subject. If you'd like to shout at my electron trail, do so if it makes you feel morally/intellectually superior or lends emotional catharsis. As for myself, I'm bored with such displays.


Leaving aside all this Keillor stuff, are snowblowers popular in Germany like they are in America?




A poorly conceived satire about the gays tends to push my buttons even more now than most things do. Especially since I spent the past election cycle being on message 24-7 for months. Being forced into the Closet in the South was...unpleasant.

The column is a poorly written stupid mishmash. It's more crappy and incoherent than intentionally bigoted. But in the process of being neither entertaining nor funny, it's also offensive to the minority group he stereotypes in the process of failing to satirize 1) the traditional family 2) those wacky humans whose families are divorced and remarried and whatever.

That said, we're still a widely despised minority, so smacking someone for a poorly written column that sounds bigoted is as important smacking James Dobson. Like, Keillor isn't an interesting bigot, his views are just antiquated, but I want them to fit into the same awkward silence box that a racist joke would be met with. Americans have the image of Bull Connor in their head for "bigot" which is why people squirm about getting tagged "bigot" and which is why making gay jokes unpalatable is important when we're not going to get legal protection any time soon.

Stonewall was long enough ago for this to be a settled policy issue. That it's not is lousy. So, shouting and soapboxes it is. I think this is crappy, but that's how America works.

Also, don't impunge grassroots American politics. The GOP is evil, but most of us aren't. And apathy only lets the crazy ones win


I haven't seen a snowblower here yet. Leafblowers, but only used by the town maintenance guys.

They do have a lot of those mini-snowplows -- the kind that are basically rider mowers with a blade. Our neighbor has one; he's on a corner, which gives him twice as much sidewalk to shovel.

Doug M.

Bernard Guerrero

"They do have a lot of those mini-snowplows -- the kind that are basically rider mowers with a blade."

I tried using one of those for two years in NY on a 17hp YardMachines tractor, but no dice. Even with the weights and chains I couldn't get enough traction if anything beyond 4 inches came down. The snowblower was a vast improvement. My one advice: buy loads of shear pins.

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