“It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars.”
The Anger of Women
by Garrison Keillor
The anger of women pervades the rooms
Like a cold snap, and you wait for the thaw
To open the window and air out the anger fumes,
And then a right hook KA-POW to the jaw!
And she says three jagged things about you
And then it’s over. She bursts into tears,
The storm spent, the sky turns sky-blue.
But a man’s heart can hurt for many years.
I have found the anger of women unbearable.
And when my goddesses have cursed the day
They met me and said those terrible
Things, I folded my tent and stole away.
I yielded to their righteous dominion
And went off in search of another opinion.
There are very few men whose reputations have been upended by the #metoo movement that I have felt compassion. For the vast majority the weight of the accusations has been overwhelming. Whatever disruption in their lives came about by shining a light on their criminal behavior or bad behavior is only a start to the justice the victims deserve. I want to make it clear that I think the #metoo movement is an important force for positive change which I fully support.
However, I have read the accusations against Garrison Keillor and scratched my head a little by the response from Minnesota Public Radio. If there is nothing more behind Keillor’s behavior than what was reported in the news, then the actions taken by Minnesota Public Radio feel to me like he is the aggrieved not his accuser. It’s not that my fondness for Keillor’s writing and Prairie Home Companion is clouding my judgement. It’s when does a lifetime worth of good work get erased without a day in court? When do we allow a person’s reputation to be destroyed without allowing them to address their accuser? It felt extremely hypocritical by MPR, a very profitable non-profit that was built on the back of Prairie Home Companion’s success. Let’s make no mistake, Prairie Home Companion was the brain child of Garrison Keillor and although he was just one artist among a talented group of artists, the bulk of the creation that was PHC was Keillor’s. He was responsible for not only its sustained quality over decades but he wrote virtually the entire show every week. I cannot listen to Chris Thile’s Live From Here and completely enjoy it, until Garrison Keillor is welcomed back for a cameo. Thile is a talented artist and his show entertaining but everything he will accomplish is tainted in my mind if he and MPR do not acknowledge that the road to this show’s success was paved by Keillor.
The question is whether the sentence fits the crime in this case? If taken at face value, Keillor is guilty of inappropriate leering and flirting in the workplace. It’s not acceptable behavior, but I wonder why was it not dealt with professionally at the time by management? There is zero accusations of sexual assault, nor was there multiple women accusing him. If blundering, inappropriate sexual attraction is sufficient cause to destroy a person’s career and legacy, enough to justify MPR turning its back on its biggest star, then the legacy of the #metoo movement in this case is not justice or a move forward, it resembles more mob action with a guillotine running a muck in the streets of St. Paul, looking for its next victim for blood sport.
In this situation, I hope there is justice for both the accuser and the accused. I hope that the art that Garrison Keillor created is judged on its merits. Art created by an artist who may be a flawed human being, but when is being human and flawed a fatal disease to be shunned? Keillor crafted a world I enjoyed visiting on Saturday afternoons for decades. He was committed to support of poetry and support of book arts over his entire career on the radio. He wrote countless books that bring me enjoyment. If we are to judge each other on only our worst actions and ignore all the good on the other side of the ledger, we will all look ugly in the eye’s of our judges. I for one, do not want to live in that world. I want to live in a #metoo world that is also equally focused on forgiveness. And for what its worth, I forgive Garrison Keillor.