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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Protest Garrison Keillor

posted by on March 14 at 11:16 AM

Larry Kramer gave a speech in New York City last night to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of ACT UP. Kramer called on gays and lesbians to form a new “gay army” to fight for the rights of gays and lesbians. There’s a great roundup and a link to the full text of Kramer’s speech over at Towleroad.

The first action for the new gay army is already planned: ACT UP/NY is going to “storm the military recruiting station in Times Square on Thursday at noon,” demanding that Gen. Peter Pace be fired.

I have a proposal for a second action: Disrupt a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Coulter Keillor’s live radio show on NPR. (Why protest Keillor? Read my earlier post “Fuck Garrison Keillor.”) One of ACT UP’s most successful early demos was disrupting a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News. If we’re going to start acting up again there’s no reason Keillor’s show should be spared. Keillor’s attack on gay parents was just as offensive and just as misinformed as Pace’s “immoral” comments or Ann Coulter’s Edwards’ joke.

And what do you know? Garrison Keillor’s show this week is broadcasting live from New York City. Hello? ACT UP/New York? I suggest you hit Garrison where it’s sure to hurt—on the air.

UPDATE: Oh, never mind. What does it say about my mood, to say nothing of my trigger finger, that Larry Kramer has a cooler head than I do these days?

UPDATE 2: Hey, this wasn’t an Emily Latella moment, as some are saying in the comments. It was “never mind” to protesting Keillor, not to complaining about Keillor’s blatantly homophobic column—which, no, I don’t read as satire. Unless this is satire: “Oh, the world sure is complicated. It was bad enough when nice straight people LIKE ME were getting divorced and remarried. Now the homosexuals are doing it too and, well, we’re just going to have to live with that, I suppose. Least you homos could do, though, is stop acting like such pansy asses. For the kids. Okay?”

RSS icon Comments


ummm...What did Garrison say?

Posted by Mike | March 14, 2007 11:27 AM

Ditto. I've always considered Garrison Keillor a nice man. A bit middle of the road but more liberal than conservative.

I'd also like to know what Act/Up has actually accomplished other than be annoying.

Posted by elswinger | March 14, 2007 11:30 AM

nevermind. Duh.

Posted by Mike | March 14, 2007 11:32 AM

Just give him cards saying "Jim wants to thank his husband Bob for a loving ten years of marriage - let's go to Vancouver to celebrate!"

But sometimes those Act/Up guys can be real turds.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 14, 2007 11:33 AM

Dan, I think you're fundamentally misreading Garrison's comments.

In the offending paragraph, he's saying that the country has come to a qualified acceptance of homosexuality, but only if gay people are willing to live within the confines of the stereotypes and roles that mainstream culture thrusts upon us. But that stereotyped role remains at odds with America's collective notions about what a "parent" looks like. (This is why he engages those stereotypes--as a gentle critique of Middle America's affinity for those same stereotypes--not in a mean-spirited mocking way. Middle America is cool with Will and Grace (remember that Republican women are that show's #1 audience). They're not comfortable with gay marriage and parenting yet because they don't really know what gay people's ACTUAL LIVES are like.

Keillor's not attacking you. How much of his work are you familiar with? Maybe you just don't understand his tone. I understand when attacks on gay families are coming so constantly that it's easy to be hyperdefensive about it, but Keillor's on our side. Maybe before wasting our activist energies on a protest campaign against someone who is an ally, you should ask him to clarify his remarks? Give his publicist a call.

Posted by Kevin Erickson | March 14, 2007 11:37 AM

OK. All you had to add was "see below" and I would have known you had his quote.

Posted by elswinger | March 14, 2007 11:38 AM

Maybe before wasting our activist energies on a protest campaign against someone who is an ally, you should ask him to clarify his remarks? Give his publicist a call.

Sounds entirely reasonable. Could also help avoid a lot of unnecessary embarassment.

Posted by BD | March 14, 2007 11:44 AM

I think it is great they are doing something in NYC. Here is a question for us gays in Seattle: What are we doing in Seattle?

Being the good little boys and girls playing politics is "nice" but is that really all we want? Until we are FULLY equal in the eyes of the law we are still at war people.

Posted by Andrew | March 14, 2007 11:45 AM

In his book "Homegrown Democrat", a treatise aimed at middle-american moderates explaining why he is a Democrat, Keillor makes his position in favor of gay marriage and opposition to federal intrusion into the bedroom pretty clear.

He is an anti-federalist on the marriage issue, i.e. he thinks it should be argued at the state level rather than the federal level. This isn't a position I personally share. But ironically, his argument sounds not unlike the "urban archipelago" line of thought that The Stranger was spouting in 2004. He writes: "I think that gay marriage/union/benefits must be a state and city matter. Gays have tended to migrate from hostile places to friendlier places — San Francisco, New York, New Orleans — and this migration has been a boon to the friendlier places. Gay-friendly areas are the richer for it, in all sorts of ways. Tolerance has economic and cultural benefits. And so we can allow Missouri or South Carolina or South Dakota to be hostile to gay marriage and suffer the consequences.”

Posted by Kevin Erickson | March 14, 2007 11:56 AM

And the episcopal church he belongs to is gay-affirming and sponsors a booth at the Twin Cities' "Pridefest."

Posted by Kevin Erickson | March 14, 2007 12:10 PM

Come on. At least give him a chance first to say, "My apologies. This was an attempt at satire that failed really, really badly, and I salute gay parents for their efforts." He's not Ann Coulter, and it's entirely possible he will clarify/recant.

Posted by tsm | March 14, 2007 12:15 PM

Andrew @ 8,

"What are we doing in Seattle?"

Not enough unfortunately. I was at the Equality Day rally in Olympia on Feb 26 where we asked our legislators to pass the marriage equality, domestic partnership and sex ed bills.

This revolution wasn't televised or even covered in the major papers including the Strangler. Only the SGN covered it.

There were about 1,500 people at the rally, not a bad turn out, but imagine if all of the 200,000 or so people who enjoy Pride were there. If that many people had shown up, we would have equality today - case closed.

The biggest problem is that the GLBT community is just as shallow and apathetic as Americans in general. I've spoken with quite a few people and everyone's just too busy to get involved or even e-mail their legislator, blah blah blah.

If all of the thousands of gays & lesbians in the military told they're CO they're gay and General Pace can go fuck himself, then DADT would be history.

We don't have equality because most people don't care.

Posted by Original Andrew | March 14, 2007 12:19 PM

Dan's judgement here is way off.

Keillor makes his living making wise-cracks that play off stereotypes: about stereotypical Democrats and Republicans, about stereotypical Norwegians and Lutherans, about stereotypical midwestern and coastal values and lifestyles. Now he's made a thoroughly in-character wise-crack about the confused modern family that plays off stereotypes of traditional families and gay men.

He hasn't come out against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, gay adoption, HIV/AIDS funding, or any other political sacred cow. He has just offended the hyper-vigilant PC language police, of whom Dan is unfortunately becomming increasing representative.

This isn't an issue for ACT UP, it's an issue for the Weekly's "Uptight Seattleite" column.

Posted by David Wright | March 14, 2007 12:20 PM

I'd also like to know what Act/Up has actually accomplished other than be annoying.

fast-track approval of AZT

Posted by BD | March 14, 2007 12:20 PM

I'm staying about a block from the Times Square Recruiting Station this week. I'll try and be around tomorrow to check out the action.

Posted by Mark Mitchell | March 14, 2007 12:22 PM

Are you out of your blooming mind?

Is it too much pot, or what?

Garrison Keillor SUPPORTS gay marriage, nitwit.

If you were capable of reading satire, and had even the tiniest familiarity with his work, you would know that he was not retailing gay stereotypes, he was responding to them.

That's his schtick. That's what he does. His entire career is a long monologue about intensely boring Lutherans in Minnesota, and how they react to things. To them, a man in a pair of chartreuse trousers is representative of a radical and dangerous freedom, careening out of control. I find it difficult to believe that you have never encountered people like that. Keillor has, often, and he is doing a hell of a lot more to persuade them otherwise than you ever have or could.

Not that I don't love your work. But on this one, you're miles off base.

Posted by Fnarf | March 14, 2007 12:24 PM

@ 2 and 14

Yeah, so annoying with the saving lives and all...

Posted by Mark Mitchell | March 14, 2007 12:25 PM

Sure, AZT "saves lives". OK.

Posted by BD | March 14, 2007 12:27 PM

Saved mine.

Posted by Mark Mitchell | March 14, 2007 12:30 PM

Mine too.

Posted by BD | March 14, 2007 12:31 PM

yeah. i read your earlier write up on this, and i was all upset because i LOVE prairie home companion. then i read his piece. it's OBVIOUSLY a joke. maybe not if you aren't familiar with his work, but keillor was joking around. i thought it was funny...

Posted by konstantconsumer | March 14, 2007 12:34 PM

Yeah, come on, finish your breakfast and settle down. Keillor is on our team.

Posted by malwana | March 14, 2007 12:42 PM

So far there are a lot of posts (both here and under "Fuck Garrison Keillor") alleging that this is satire, especially given what Keillor wrote in Homegrown Democrat). So my question is, is Dan going to address those observations?

Posted by Matt from Denver | March 14, 2007 12:48 PM

Oops, forgot to close out the italics...

Posted by Matt from Denver | March 14, 2007 12:49 PM

Wouldn't a simple call or e-mail to Keillor's PR flak or a Salon editor do the trick here, in terms of whether we should judge this as a satire or not?

Posted by frederick r | March 14, 2007 12:51 PM

Actually, Mark, I wasn't being serious about the virtues of AZT.

I wouldn't take AZT, protease inhibitors, or any of the pharmaceutical witches' brew prescribed for "AIDS", even if I tested "positive". It's your choice though, and I'm glad it helped you. It killed my friends though. Oh well.

Posted by BD | March 14, 2007 12:53 PM

Dan, before you start calling for boycotts based on a first reaction, do take a longer look. It's an attempt at satire, though a poorly executed one. It does come off very badly on a first read, and the whole thing is muddled, but Fnarf and Sven and others are right.

Posted by Gabriel | March 14, 2007 12:59 PM

Whether this is the battle or not, it's time to start fighting. Can I join the gay army even though I'm straight?

Posted by Misty Brown | March 14, 2007 1:06 PM

@ Original Andrew: Yeah, it is pretty damn sad state of America today. I just hope we wake up before they are coming after us in ways that make me shake with fear.

I semi-jokingly suggested people go up and protest Club Lagoon this past weekend since a lot of the patrons are harrassing people on the hill. One other person on Slog thought it was worth doing. Yeah, we get exactly what we work for in the end.

Posted by Andrew | March 14, 2007 1:15 PM

Fnarf and Kevin, I was impressed with your arguments and I knew already that GK has always been, as he says, an old-fashioned museum-quality tax-and-spend liberal, so I went back to the piece to see if I had left my irony in the drawer this morning.

Unfortunately, I still think GK has really said something at odds with what we thought his values were. The key for me is in the title and first five paragraphs, especially this one:

"Nature is about continuation of the species--in other words, children. Nature does not care about the emotional well-being of older people."

Cast this statement with two from the first paragraph in the following form: Is art good for children? Is a drama-free childhood with boring, average parents good for children? Do bears shit in the woods?

The art thing is offered as unassailable by the bears-shit-in-the-woods comparison. The rest of the piece reads to me like an argument that a drama-free childhood is also an obvious good. GK therefore says that our modern ways, with divorces, hyphenated names, many-branched family trees, and gay parents is hard on children.

There may or may not be a valid psychological argument for this idea, but IMHO, GK has gratuitously and speciously dragged in gay parents here as an example of both too much drama and too many relatives. To state the truly obvious, there is plenty of family drama to go around; nobody in my family is gay, but some of them are into drugs, booze, and multiple marriages. And, of course, paired-up gay people don't complicate the family tree any more than their married and shacked-up siblings do. It's the unexamined assertion that uncomplicated families are best for children and the gratuitous use of gay couples as an example of too much drama that got my back up.

This isn't the news from Lake Wobegon; this is an opinion piece. I've seen satire in GK's opinion pieces before, but it's always pretty easy to spot. In this case, I think he wrote something straightforward but ill expressed and badly argued off the top of his head, and he deserves to be called on it.

Posted by moose@belltown | March 14, 2007 1:23 PM

fnarf @16: thank you.

Posted by kerri harrop | March 14, 2007 1:38 PM

Add to the above: I personally believe GK is in error to suggest that parents have to be as average as possible for the sake of their children. Even if it's true that children can suffer from their parents' dramatic lives, it would be hard to predict what other people are going to find odd enough about one's family to give the kids a hard time about, and impossible to predict what one's children are going to look back on as difficult in their lives.

Posted by moose@belltown | March 14, 2007 1:42 PM

Sorry, I confused "Act Up" with "Up With People." I have to stop smoking weed at work.

Posted by elswinger | March 14, 2007 1:57 PM

Keillor's overarching project is to comment on the world from this nostalgic midwestern perspective, and everything he does is built around a simultaneous genuine appreciation of and affectionate satire of that culture. His perspective gives voice to working-class sentiments, in a way that allows him to shepherd them in a progressive direction. Here he's acknowledging that, yes, middle america does feel a legitimate anxiety about the stability of american families and suggesting that their concerns about gay marriage are in part, a misdirected expression of this legitimate anxiety. But he also says with specific regard to gay families, "we'll get used to it."

I mean, the premise of this piece is "parents aren't supposed to care about their emotional well-being," which you really ought to find hilarious. He's pushing the "children must come first" argument to its logical endpoint, for comedic effect.

Posted by Kevin Erickson | March 14, 2007 2:02 PM

Half of Garrison Keillor's monologues are about how people need winter to keep them honest. He's not being serious. It's wry.

Posted by chris | March 14, 2007 2:03 PM

If ya'll forming a gay army I will totally fifth column in the straight middle aged married dude formations. Just let me know what to do because I am sick as shit of these stupid homophobic dumbasses

Posted by Pbags | March 14, 2007 4:20 PM

Oh man, this post by Dan is so embarrassing to read. It's like watching American Idol auditions on TV. Would it really be *that* unethical to remove it?

Posted by sniggles | March 14, 2007 5:22 PM

the natural history of hiv allows for people who are infected to live unchecked for 10-18 years (in general)...then the immune system starts to lose the battle...fortunately becasue we have the meds! we do not see the horrible effects of this disease (ks lesions, wasting, pcp) very much in the states...unfortunately, when AIDS was discovered in the early 80's people had already passed that window...and they needed the medicines yesterday...the work ACT UP did saved lives because they got the goverment (FDA) to speed up approval of life saving drugs...sure AZT was being given at really high doses that caused major toxicities (anemia, nausea)...but now we have over 20 drugs (5 different classes, NsRTI, NtRTI NNRTI, PI, Fusion inhibitors) with more drugs in new classes and with improved resistance profiles...and yes, they have toxicities but this too has improved over the years...get a grip BD.

Posted by huh | March 14, 2007 5:45 PM

Dan, You seem so desperate to be viewed as normal and to feel accepted by normal middle Americans like Garrison. As a first step you probably shouldn't associate with sleazy Marxist bathhouse queens like Act-Up.

Posted by help me rhombus | March 14, 2007 8:36 PM

Nice propaganda, "huh".

Posted by BD | March 15, 2007 8:05 AM

There's a great idea-- "ACT-UP with People"!

Posted by andy niable | March 15, 2007 8:15 AM

...Keillor’s blatantly homophobic column—which, no, I don’t read as satire.

You can not read The Onion as satire either, if you want. Doesn't make it so.

This was a complete Emily Litella moment, and as one of your fans it's almost impossible to read. I wish you would just delete it.

Posted by sniggles | March 15, 2007 10:27 AM

Dan, if for one minute you thought that Keillor was serious you are imperviouos to irony. He's on your side and always has been. And trotting out his marital history was particularly ugly. "Never mind" doesn't suffice. Apologize.

Posted by Everyman | March 16, 2007 2:35 PM

Jolly-ho. Ever since Savage got mopped up by O'Reilly a couple of years ago he consistently avoids the real threats to gay America. GK should be boycotted? Oh My. Savage is the classic bully who was overpowered on the playground so he goes home and beats up his own family.

Posted by Steve | March 16, 2007 8:37 PM

Damn, sounds more Shrill than Savage.

You're positively ugly when you get bitchy, duchess.

Posted by bwoociewoocie | March 19, 2007 11:01 AM

Damn, sounds more Shrill than Savage.

You're positively ugly when you get bitchy, duchess.

Posted by bwoociewoocie | March 19, 2007 11:01 AM

Hi Jim. You letter i received. Thanks! Photos is GREAT!!!!

Posted by Slim | March 20, 2007 8:57 AM

Hi Jim. You letter i received. Thanks! Photos is GREAT!!!!

Posted by Slim | March 20, 2007 8:58 AM

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