FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

And Now, A Prairie Home Sexual Harassment Complaint

by

America is in the middle of an agonizing reappraisal of sexual conduct. What constitutes sexual harassment or assault? Where is the line that separates acceptable, or merely rude, actions from unacceptable, and possibly criminal or civilly actionable, behavior?

If you feel like this process has been dragging on for a year, you’re not alone. But as I write this, it’s actually been less than two months since the New York Times brought movie magnate Harvey Weinstein low with its story on his decades of sexual misbehavior and cover-ups.

Weinstein was the first domino to fall, but far from the last. Numerous entertainers, journalists and politicians now find themselves beleaguered by, or even  at career’s end based on, allegations that might, even if true, once have brought a wink, a nudge, and maybe an insincere verbal reprimand.

It’s impossible to know in advance how far any social sea change will go, or how far it should go. But this one may have just seen its first bit of backlash — literally.

Garrison Keillor is an unparalleled icon of state media as entertainment. Foremost among his accomplishments is creating Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion and hosting it (with breaks) for 40 years.

On November 29, MPR announced that it had fired Keillor and severed all contractual relationships with him over allegations of “inappropriate behavior” with a co-worker.

Keillor might, like so many others, have donned a hair shirt and beat his chest while screaming public apologies for a few days before conspicuously entering rehab. As a liberal of his age (75), he’d probably have been quickly forgiven by his admiring public, who would award him a  moral golf handicap for being from way back when.

Instead, he shrugged off the firing (“I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else.”) and politely explained himself without pillorying himself:

“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back. 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.”

The explanation has the ring of truth to it. As he himself points out, he’s well-known for being physically stand-offish and describes himself as being on the autism spectrum (of which aversion to physical touch is often a feature). Groping a colleague isn’t just out of radio character for Keillor. It’s out of character, period. If he’s not lying, there’s no sexual harassment here.

If Keillor’s travail, and how he’s handling it, marks the point in time where we pause to reconsider the content of our suddenly evolving set of standards instead of plunging headlong into a new Salem witch hunt, he will indeed have brought us good news from Lake Wobegon.

 

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

February 21, 2018
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein’s on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail