Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Save the Children, or Billy Ra... | Ankle Breaker »

Monday, March 19, 2007

Garrison Keillor’s Apology

posted by on March 19 at 11:26 AM

Garrison Keillor issued an apology for the column he wrote last week—kinda, sorta. In case you missed it, here’s Keillor’s column (“Stating the Obvious”), and here’s my measured, thoughtful response (“Fuck Garrison Keillor”). The full text of Keillor’s apology:

Ordinarily I don’t like to use this space to talk about my newspaper column but the most recent column aroused such angry reactions that I thought I should reply. The column was done tongue-in-cheek, always a risky thing, and was meant to be funny, another risky thing these days, and two sentences about gay people lit a fire in some readers and sent them racing to their computers to fire off some jagged e-mails. That’s okay. But the underlying cause of the trouble is rather simple.

I live in a small world—the world of entertainment, musicians, writers—in which gayness is as common as having brown eyes. Ever since I was in college, gay men and women have been friends, associates, heroes, adversaries, and in that small world, we talk openly and we kid each other and think nothing of it. But in the larger world, gayness is controversial. In almost every state, gay marriage would be voted down if put on a ballot. Gay men and women have been targeted by the right wing as a hot-button issue. And so gay people out in the larger world feel besieged to some degree. In the small world I live in, they feel accepted and cherished as individuals, but in the larger world they may feel like Types. My column spoke as we would speak in my small world and it was read by people in the larger world and thus the misunderstanding. And for that, I am sorry. Gay people who set out to be parents can be just as good parents as anybody else, and they know that, and so do I.

A reporter asked me this weekend if I was satisfied with Keillor’s apology.

Satisfied? Sure, I’m satisfied. Does that mean the column Keillor wrote wasn’t bigoted and offensive? No and no. And his apology is merely satisfactory. Below average, as apologies go.

Keillor apologized only because the column was “misunderstood,” says that it was meant to be satirical, and that the kind of folks that move in his “small world”—folks that actually know gay people, artistic types and such like—were sure to get it. The humor was naturally lost on folks that don’t move in similarly artistic circles. Those folks misunderstood his intention, and for that Keillor is sorry.

Excuse me… what? I’m pretty familiar with gay people, seeing as how gay people have been sucking my cock for close to 25 years now. But somehow I didn’t get it—and neither did Andrew Sullivan, John Aravosis, or Andy over at Towleroad. It wasn’t a lack of familiarity with the gays that lead to those angry responses, Garrison.

And if the column was satire, Garrison, what exactly were you satirizing? The column is titled “Stating the Obvious,” for Christ’s sake, and it’s worth revisiting at length. Maybe I’m selectively dense—that’s certainly a possibility—but this doesn’t read like an attempt at humor:

I grew up the child of a mixed-gender marriage that lasted until death parted them, and I could tell you about how good that is for children, and you could pay me whatever you think it’s worth.

Back in the day, that was the standard arrangement. Everyone had a yard, a garage, a female mom, a male dad, and a refrigerator with leftover boiled potatoes in plastic dishes with snap-on lids…. Monogamy put the parents in the background where they belong and we children were able to hold center stage. We didn’t have to contend with troubled, angry parents demanding that life be richer and more rewarding for them. We blossomed and agonized and fussed over our outfits and learned how to go on a date and order pizza and do the twist and neck in the front seat of a car back before bucket seats when you could slide close together, and we started down the path toward begetting children while Mom and Dad stood like smiling, helpless mannequins in the background.

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

Let’s stop here for a second. Opponents of gay marriage and gay adoption argue that same-sex marriage goes against nature. In the last nine months two state supreme courts—in New York and Washington—denied marriage rights to gays and lesbians because, both courts argued, marriage is supposed to put “children center stage.” Marriage isn’t about adults and their needs or rights, but about “the continuation of the species.” A male dad and a female mom—that’s the kind of family in which “children tend to thrive,” wrote the Washington State Supreme Court. Intentionally or not, Keillor is using loaded, explosive language here.

A couple of days before Keillor’s column was published, the Senate in Arkansas voted to ban gays and lesbians from being foster parents, with opponents using the same sort of language Keillor employed in this “humor” column. (The bill in Arkansas bans gays and lesbians from fostering or adopting children to whom they are related by blood!) So you’ll have to forgive me if I didn’t see the humor here, Garrison.

Moving on:

Under the old monogamous system, we didn’t have the problem of apportioning Thanksgiving and Christmas among your mother and stepdad, your dad and his third wife, your mother-in-law and her boyfriend Hal, and your father-in-law and his boyfriend Chuck. Today, serial monogamy has stretched the extended family to the breaking point….

Okay, so divorce and remarriage has made life more complicated for children. I agree—my parents divorced, and that pretty much sucked. My first apportioned Christmas was pretty depressing. So I’m with you, Garrison: I too recognize that marriage, life-long commitment, and less complicated family structures as the ideal, like I said in my original post.

But Keillor probably should have mentioned that he himself has failedóand failed spectacularlyóto live up to these ideals. Keillor has children from two of his three marriages, and Keillor’s Wiki entry reads like a page ripped from Peyton Place.

And now for those infamous two sentences:

And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife’s first husband’s second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin’s in-laws and Bruce’s ex, Mark, and Mark’s current partner, and I suppose we’ll get used to it.

The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men—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 and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That’s for the kids. It’s their show.

I’ve already picked over these two lines at some length. (How much do you wanna bet that “Bruce and Kevin” were “Adam and Steve” in Keillor’s first draft?) But, again, where’s the humor here exactly? I mean, besides the Coulteresque pot-shots at effeminate gay men? Garrison writes that gay men—the swishy ones, at least—have been accepted. (Tell that to the guys who get bashed, guys that tend to be the obvious/swishy.) But: “If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control.”

This line does two thing: First, it assumes that Keillor has no gay readers. Gay people are “they.” Nice. And it makes acceptance of gay couples and daddies—what about the lesbian couples and mommies?—conditional. If we behave, acceptance. And if we don’t give up our loud trousers and flashy shirts? What then?

Keillor may be a humorist but it isn’t humor that characterizes this column. It’s regret. Oh, the world is more complicated today—and that’s a dang shame, Keillor argues. Garrison pines for the days when life was simpler—when straight people stay married for life, when kids were always in the foreground, and when no one had to keep track of a gay relative’s current partner, to say nothing of his ex, because back in the good “confirmed bachelors” weren’t so rude as to bring their “roommates” ‘round for dinner.

Because gay people, back in the good ol’ days, were content to commit social and emotional suicide. Sucked for them, of course, but it was good for children. (Except gay ones, of course.)

Garrison’s whole point was that these two social arrangements—life-long commitment for straights, the closet for gays—were better for children. Remember, folks, Garrison is “stating the obvious” here. We’ve become more selfish, we adults, and we don’t seem to notice or care that we’re hurting children in the process. Oh, and we may have to accept gay marriage, but we don’t have to like it. Because, you know, it’s hurting kids.

I’m sorry, but there aren’t two ways to read this column. I don’t doubt that Keillor knows and likes gay people. But I don’t see how this column can be read—by gay or straight people, by people that know gay people or people that don’t—as anything other than hypocritical and homophobic. And, yeah, I’m sure that Keillor knows lots of homos, being in the arts. That makes his column less excusable, not more. And if it’s a joke, what explains the headline: “Stating the Obvious”? Over at Tribune Media Services, which syndicates Keillor’s column to hundreds of daily newspapers all over the country, the column has this headline: “TRUTHS ABOUT FAMILY, GENDER AND MIDWESTERN COWBOYS.”

The final irony, perhaps, is that Keillor didn’t apologize for the column itself. He didn’t apologize for what he said. He apologized for the “misunderstanding.” It’s typical of the politicians Keillor likes to mock: Apologize if someone took offense, not for the offense you gave.

RSS icon Comments


It's amazing how far you'll go to defend your bloated, fragile ego, Mr. Savage.

Just for "fun", I bounced this story off of some friends and coworkers. Their response? Laughter. Garrison Keillor a hateful homophobe? I don't think so.

We'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though. Maybe your powers to diagnose homophobia are much keener than your fellow gays. Even if that's the case, you really should do a better job of choosing your enemies. You're looking more and more foolish with this one.

Posted by BD | March 19, 2007 11:44 AM

Much ado about nothing, IMHO.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 19, 2007 11:55 AM

GK is OK, OK?

And some people need to get out more.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | March 19, 2007 11:57 AM

The column was offensive in many ways.

Parents can be royally f*cked up regardless of sexual orientation. Why are gay parents always singled out as the bad parents? Children will accept love and guidance from a man and woman, two women or two men.

According to some straight people it seems that one parental penis and one parental vagina are absolutely necessary for a young child to turn out well. I thought the most valued parts of parents that children need are loving hearts not their parentsí reproductive organs.

Posted by Mr. Designer | March 19, 2007 12:03 PM

Never thought Garrison Keillor was funny.

Posted by Jeff | March 19, 2007 12:05 PM

You know being gay gives me enough enemies, I sure as hell do not need Dan going out and making some more.

You need to pick your battles appropriately and perhaps when your friends make asses out of themselves don't put them on the mat publicly but take them to the side and talk to them. There is something to be said for descretion every now and then. But hell, who am kidding this is the Stranger.....

And am I the only one who has noticed the loudest bitching comes from things that we are more hard pressed to change but stuff that is right in our own backyard we do not do a damn thing about? Hell, we let REAL honest to God homophobia on Cap Hill (that is on the increase btw) go by the side but get our panties upset about GK?

We are getting EXACTLY what we deserve.

Posted by Andrew | March 19, 2007 12:06 PM

So Garrison Keillor did a crappy job writing a humor column for a Web site no one has read for at least 5 years. Isn't that Salon's problem, not ours? I can count on one dick the number of people who give a damn about his opinions -- especially those on Salon.

Posted by frederick r | March 19, 2007 12:07 PM

No, Dan's right. That shit isn't funny - I don't mean just that it's stupid, it ISN'T FUNNY. But GK isn't really ever funny, anyway. His nostalgic mellow honky burbling, fake soap ad, safe folk music thing tries to boil America down to a genuine and sweet base metal, and that metal consists almost exclusively of Northern European immigrant quirks and early mass media commercialism. It's really pitiful (see George W.S. Trow's very entertaining but badly titled 'Within the Context of No Context' for more on what GK is making the world safe for). Such a shame so many smart actors got in on Altman's terrible distillation of the worst thing for Liberalism since, I don't know, Ralph Nader? (Mea culpa, mea culpa.)

Posted by Grant Cogswell | March 19, 2007 12:10 PM

The Simpsons did a good take on Prairie Home Companion..."Garrison" would say something about "farmer Engvist", or "strong women and good-looking children" and the audience would howl with laughter. Homer, perplexed by people laughing at something that wasn't funny banged his fist on the TV, yelling at it to be funny.

It's called a "schtick", Mr. Cogswell. And Garrison Keillor has successfully mined it for more than two decades. It isn't meant to be taken seriously. And if you're not well-versed with Minnesota, Scandinavians, small towns, and Lutherans, it's probably not going to be very funny. It's satire, except for some of those god-awful, trying-too-hard "folk" acts.

Posted by BD | March 19, 2007 12:23 PM

"Excuse meÖ what? Iím pretty familiar with gay people, seeing as how gay people have been sucking my cock for close to 25 years now."

Other folks, not so much.

Posted by rodrigo | March 19, 2007 12:23 PM

Ugh, let it go Dan. You lost this one. Remember that, "Hey, Faggot," in your column? Doesn't that make you a homophobe too?

Your argument only works if you make a whole complicated set of extrapolations and then attack those. Basically you didn't like his tone. Got it.

Posted by chris | March 19, 2007 12:27 PM

i agree with dan. not funny. boos and hisses to gk!

Posted by kim | March 19, 2007 12:33 PM

I would say that Savage won this one, Chris. Go to Google blogs and type in "Dan Savage" and "Garrison Keillor." It looks like a solid majority out there comes down pretty squarely on Savage's side.

And isn't Keillor's apology, such as it is, evidence that Savage won this round? If Savage lost, wouldn't Savage be the one apologizing?

Posted by EXTC | March 19, 2007 12:36 PM

Something's not funny because you insist it is.

Jokes play on the razor's edge, and GK lost it on this one. You think Dan is determining who's pissed or not about it? *That* would be funny.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | March 19, 2007 12:40 PM

Listen i'm Scandinavian with gobs of family from Minnesota and small towns, and Keillor has never been funny, except to a very small segment of sexagenarians. Keillor will never be influential on any mainstream debate unless Savage explodes over his asinine comments and brings them to the attention of the right

Posted by vooodooo84 | March 19, 2007 12:44 PM

Oh, my gosh, if it's on Google Blogs, it HAS to be true, right?

Dan, you're not just wrong, you're completely and utterly wrong, and this latest demonstration of your lack of reading comprehension seals it.

Starting at the top: "how good that is for children" quite plainly refers to "until death parted them", not "mixed-gender marriage". Next: Keillor's article cannot possibly be interpreted as arguing that gay parents are "against nature"; that's NOT WHAT HE SAID. You also fail to grasp his apology either.

You appear to be incapable of grasping satire at all. That's bizarre coming from someone who is a funny writer himself.

Posted by Fnarf | March 19, 2007 12:49 PM

I'm a gay man. I love GK and I love Savage. GK's column was funny - I got it. Some people don't get his humor - that's fine. Savage was way off base, as were others. I noticed one big glaring thing to do with this stupid, pointless kerfuffle:

Every single person criticizing Mr. Keillor is not a fan of his, is not familiar with his humor style (whatever you think of it), and has taken words and phrases out of contxt and twisted them into something they are not.

Get over yourselves. GK has been a fiend to the gay community for a very long time. Of all the folks to be attacking, its our friends you want to do this too?

Posted by John | March 19, 2007 12:53 PM

If you add up all the people who came "out against Garrison Keillor" after Dan's SLOG. It was maybe a thousand people nation wide, give or take a 100. Maybe 1 or 200 people had Mr. Keillor's back, including many gay people.

My point is that no one outside SLOG, a few gay blogs, and letters to the newspapers (including Salon) covered this controversy. I have yet to read anything about the column in any news outlet any bigger than SLOG.

Dan, you need to take your outrage to the streets, or find something new to be upset about.

Posted by elswinger | March 19, 2007 12:55 PM

I think that maybe the "small group of people" he mentioned could be the group of people surrounding him. Are they gaycist? No. Do they have a sense of humor outside of the mainstream? Yes. I sometimes listen to Prarie Home Companion and enjoyed Altman's movie treatment of it, and tend not to get many of the "jokes" in it. I have always enjoyed reading Savage Love, but do I think that Garrison Keillor would appreciate your sense of humor in the same way as most readers of The Stranger? I highly doubt it. I think we should live and let live on this one, instead of having humorist-on-humorist hatred. Other than that, keep up the good work, Dan!

Posted by Dipstick Lesbian | March 19, 2007 1:00 PM

How dare Dan be outraged by something that outraged Dan. Dan really should be outraged only by those things that outrage me. I'm outraged that Dan expressed his outrage. And Dan is utterly, utterly alone in his outrage. Many people wrote to Keillor to express their non-outrage, or their outrage with Dan, which Keillor misinterpreted somehow as outrage itself, and issued an apology. Outrageous.

Posted by Mikey | March 19, 2007 1:02 PM

I suddenly wonder just how vaguely hetero-normative Savage would allow his grandmother to be without kicking her in the shins.

Posted by adamblast | March 19, 2007 1:09 PM

No need to repeat what others are saying about whether or not GK was offensive to gays...what about parents in general?
What's this crap about how children are supposed to be the center of the universe? That's exactly the kind of shit that makes a whole new generation of completely self-centered egomaniacs that don't give a crap about their own contribution. Being a parent is a big responsibility, sure, and only people who are ready to live up to it should ever fuck w/out protection/planning of some kind...but the idea that you're supposed to fundamentally change who you are in order to make everything "about the children" is ridiculous. Howabout instead they grow a little character and learn to #2's embarrassingly flaming pants might just be good prep for the real world. More adaptable children grow up to be adults who bitch less, and I think we can all agree that would make the earth a better place.

Posted by Sara | March 19, 2007 1:18 PM

ok, for all the haters... DAN ISNT SAYING THAT, ON REFLECTION, GK COLUMN ISNT FUNNY. HE IS SAYING THAT THERE IS NO WAY THIS COLUMN WAS WRITTEN TO BE FUNNY. get it??? Satire is satire when it exaggerates and highlights the absurdity of a position. Watch the Colbert Report if you need an example. Dan is spot on, maybe reading his column again with a more open mind to his perspective might change your mind.

Posted by JOT | March 19, 2007 1:20 PM

It's funny how so many people wrote to defend that big homophobe with his pathetic, politically worded apology. Dan, you were absolultely right to be outraged by GK's unfunny, lame, dated column. It reminded me of all the horrible skits we used to suffer through back in the 60s and 70s, the ones where all the gays were portrayed as effeminate flamers with pink poodles. I'm so sick and tired of people saying homophobic, hateful nasty things about and to gays and then apologizing to the masses the minute someone brave like Dan dares to call them on their ignorance and homophobia. Keep up the great work, Dan. And ignore all the pathetic apologists.

Posted by Ray | March 19, 2007 1:21 PM

No, no, no. Dan is right to point out the hypocrisy here. My family and I have loved the Lake Wobegon stories for as long as I can remember, and even though his work can be anachronistic, I've always thought of Keillor as a staunch supporter of progressive endeavors. But this article was (a) not funny at all, and (b) simply offensive. It's a great example of how one can love and respect individual gay and lesbian people but still hold great disdain for gays and lesbians in general. And Keillor's half-apology was stupid... I hate it when people say "I'm sorry you were offended"... as if it were my fault that he wrote that effeminate gay men were unfit to be parents. Screw you, Garrison. I like the sissies. If it weren't for sissies, there never would've been a Stonewall. We owe the sissies. Sissies can teach us a lot about how to be 100% authentic even when it costs you socially.

So Dan, go ahead and rant. You've a right to do so. If we keep quiet, nothing will ever change. And remember... if you can't tell the hard truth to friends and supporters, who can you tell it to?

Posted by Brian | March 19, 2007 1:21 PM

Iíve been a fan of Danís longer than GK and this is the first time Iíve ever disagreed so strongly with Dan. To me that says something about how wrong he is on this one. GK has apologized for what is worth an apology and for that he deserves credit. I wish Dan Savage would let go of his pride enough do the same.

Posted by Steve | March 19, 2007 1:24 PM

I've been reading and listening to Keillor for years now. Oftentimes he's mildly funny, with a moment of insight here and there. But that article was such a misfire, even I can't defend it. Okay, so we probably shouldn't blow this into a battle of World War III proportions. But Dan's got some good points. IMHO, Garrison's probably not a homophobe, but he screwed up royally on this piece. A cautionary tale for humorists everywhere...

Posted by Woebegone Boy | March 19, 2007 1:25 PM

Does Keillor Bore the crap out of me? Yep. Was GK thinking it through when he wrote his piece where he stereotypes gay men, parents and children? Probably not. Was Dan right to point out GK fucked up in a public forum? Yep. Was GK's apology reasonable? I guess. I can see where he's coming from and it's not making me hit tilt on the pinball maching. Is Dan now taking this too far? Yeah, I think so and here's why in my opinion.

I see the bulk of this being about stereotyping. GK did that, and it happens all the time all over the place, including in The Stranger. He admits he didn't think through its effect on broader communities and admitted to that fault.

Dan, the next time you throw some hairless twink boy or shirtless hipster on the front of your paper as the cover person du jour, have a good think about whether The Stranger is engaging in the exact type of stereotyping you've accused GK of. The gay community is particularly bad about labelling people and pidgeonholing them into one group or another. It's one of the things I detest about the community and something I recognize will never change. It's just too bad that most of us leave the closet only to enter another. often not by choice but because of how we look.

This topic raised serious issues and needed to be debated, but take the apology for what it is and move on. There are a helluva lot more important issues in my opinion to shoot fire and brimstone at.

Posted by Dave Coffman | March 19, 2007 1:25 PM

This is so sad. Did Savage ever contact Garrison Keillor to ask him to explain his comments? Or is Savage engaging in the sort of diplomacy the current administration is known for? You'd think in this day and age, we'd be reaching out to each other, rather than making Garrison Keillor. Who's next?

Posted by BD | March 19, 2007 1:27 PM

Dear god -- STOP COMMENTING, EVERYBODY!!! Is there really anything more that needs to be said on this subject? Lame start, lame ending. Now it's OVER. Let's just please return Mr. Keillor to the Land of Irrelevancy.

Posted by frederick r | March 19, 2007 1:38 PM

Ah, the "apology" of the truly self-centered: "I'm sorry you feel that way."

Posted by elm | March 19, 2007 1:39 PM

Not that you give a rats ass...but you've lost some of my respect over this ridiculousness. It's just so uncalled for to have attacked the guy (who, incidentally, I have no particular fondness for and don't think is really all that funny) the way you did Dan.

You knee jerked this all to hell man. And I bet you know on some level.

Talk about picking your frickin battles.

Posted by even more disappointed | March 19, 2007 1:42 PM

Dan clearly OVERREACTED and what is worse now he is lamely trying to defend his initial overreaction. How condecending can you be Dan? As a GAY man '"I" don't see how YOU could possibly be offended.' You, Dan, owe Keillor and your readers an apology.

Posted by Tommy | March 19, 2007 1:44 PM

@17: not true, John. I listen to, get, and like A Prairie Home Companion all the time, and I have for years. In this case, though, I wrote what I still think: in this one, GK fell flat on his ass.

GK's stuff always has a tension between liberal mocking of and wistful nostalgia for a golden midwestern past peopled with sturdy immigrants and their descendants. In the past few years he has voiced at least as much nostalgia as mockery. He occasionally talks fairly openly about his own (current) family and religious faith. Both he and his usual audience (including me) are getting to an age when the backward gaze is attractive even when the times one looks back on were not that good. And also, you listeners will recognize that GK has been emphasizing the parts of his liberalism that can be attractive to his fellow midwesterners, aiming a little gentle propaganda toward some who might be attracted by the family-values talk of the Republicans.

All this leads me to believe that, whether he was attempting satire or just indulging himself, GK let the attitudes of the past, maybe even his own past, dominate the page. If the people he hangs out with(including the editors of Salon) thought this piece was unambiguously funny, then they have been hanging out with just themselves for too long.

Posted by moose@belltown | March 19, 2007 1:44 PM


You really need to focus on the bigotry of people who would see harm to gay men and women and get off this ridiculous tirade against Garrison Keilor.

I suspect you're not a regular listener or reader of GK or PHC and aren't familiar with his style. But to take this snippet out of context and blow it up to such an extent is pure gay-baiting. Any episode of Will and Grace was about as self-denigrating. Or are only gay people allowed to be critical of other gay people?

Please check your perspective. The forest of bigotry is to your right. Stop trying to be some hyperventilating self-righteous lumberjack to a small tree on the left.

Posted by Gay Cowboy Bob | March 19, 2007 1:45 PM

I am not sure what to think about this one. I don't know who this guy is but the apology seemed pretty good.

The problem is that, going back and re-reading the article, I was not stricken by any particular details that I missed the first time that would have tipped me off that it is satire. Normally satire relies on caricatures and attempts to criticize. What is the difference between this piece and something that might have been written by some random person to complain about same sex marriage? Where is the subtle criticism?

I don't think Dan is "wrong" on this one. Keillor missed the mark and failed to tailor his piece to his audience, and as a result it came off wrong.

Posted by Michael | March 19, 2007 1:45 PM

Thanks Dan, for being a thinking-man's homo...keep calling gaybashers on their shit!

Posted by matt l | March 19, 2007 1:52 PM

Dan isn't complaining that Keillor missed the mark -- attempted to write satire that fell flat. Dan's pissed because he STILL believes that Garrison Keillor is a homophobe. GK's apology clearly states that he was trying to write satire. Get it, Dan? Please, try to fucking get it!

Posted by keshmeshi | March 19, 2007 1:58 PM

The only explanation is that Dan is trying to be irrelevant and trying to take all us gays with him.

Posted by Tommy | March 19, 2007 2:10 PM

Here's what I don't get: Not one of the deep thinkers who claims to "get" the "satire" of this piece has ever bothered to explain to the rest of us WHY it qualifies as satire. If it's so crystal clear then why can't you geniuses break it down for everybody else?

Maybe because it wasn't satire (or, at any rate, good satire), it wasn't even remotely funny and it was both offensive and homophobic. And, in case you missed it, Keillor's latest lame-itude was an explanation, NOT an "apology". In a genuine apology you make amends for your own stupidity rather than point your finger at what you choose to interpret as the stupidity of others.

Posted by JJNYC | March 19, 2007 2:27 PM

Dan, can Garrison show he's truly contrite by getting publicly fucked in the ass? I'm sure that the folks over at Club Z would be happy to put something together.

Posted by Gitai | March 19, 2007 2:29 PM

You don't explain jokes, including satire. There is no point. The GK column was not homophobic. You saying it is, does not make it so.

Posted by Tommy | March 19, 2007 2:35 PM

But I donít see how this column can be readóby gay or straight people, by people that know gay people or people that donítóas anything other than hypocritical and homophobic

"I don't see" says Dan Savage.

Is it that you can't see, or that you don't want to see, Dan? Because a number of gay men here on SLOG disagree with your reading of Keillor's article as homophobic.

As a gay man, it's perplexing that you don't show some restraint when tossing around potentially hurtful labels (e.g. homophobic). You must be aware of the damage those labels can inflict. Is Garrison Keillor worthy of this new-found label? Yes or no?

Posted by BD | March 19, 2007 2:46 PM

I'd rather stay in the closet and not let a soul know I read or listen to GK.

Posted by Connie | March 19, 2007 2:50 PM


You're wrong on this one. Let it go, chica. Let it go.

Posted by dantc | March 19, 2007 3:08 PM

I'm with Woebegone Boy @27. I've listened off and on to Keillor for years (there is nothing else on the radio Sunday afternoons!). He is never more than mildly funny at best. I've always thought of him as a progressive and pro-LGBT. He often features gay writers prominently and positively on his afternoon blurb "writers almanac". So I don't think he is homophobic in a Tim Hardaway or General Pace sort of way. I think he just wrote a column and his attempted humor fell flat. It was offensive, but I think unintentionally so. I mild offense at best, and not worth going to the mat over.

I think it was good that someone pointed out to GK that he was being homophobic. He seems to get it at least enough to offer a weak apology.

Now I think you are just belaboring the point. Hardaway and Pace deserve to be crucified. Keillor deserves to have his hand slapped. Time to move on to worse offenders, Dan.

Posted by SDA in SEA | March 19, 2007 3:09 PM

I love the radio GK stuff - very funny.
Dan has never known how to choose his battles - remember, the AIDS epidemic is over, the war in Iraq is OK, Pride is a waste of time and passe ....and so forth.

The enemy of our community are the neo fascists who control the R party.

Number one. Fear them not at your peril.

Not a famed satirist, who can easily be not understood.

Posted by ed dippy | March 19, 2007 3:11 PM

If you don't agree with Dan 100% of the time, you are not really gay.

Posted by elswinger | March 19, 2007 3:17 PM

Great Job Dan.

Really! He was 100% hurting the gay movement. He views his swishy gay friends as self absorbed and too dramatic to share life with kids and put them first.

Just a run of the mill ignorant person. Some gays like him that way it seems.

Posted by rjp3 | March 19, 2007 3:28 PM

I love you Dan. Keep up the good work, ignore the hatas.

Posted by Mumu | March 19, 2007 3:38 PM

I thought it was homophobic.

Maybe not blatantly so, but satire very specifically has to have a point to make - this didn't. This was a hit at homosexuality (even if it was a hit at stereotypical gay men, being the stereotype is cool if that's who you are, and you shouldn't get anymore shit than the rest of us), dressed up in slight exaggeration. That doesn't make satire.

I'm reminded of something I read a few months ago that was "satire" on the subject of rape. It was not funny, and it was not satire. Just because the writer supposedly didn't intend "She had it coming in that little skirt," seriously, doesn't mean it isn't offensive or enforcing a viewpoint that needs to be wiped out.

Maybe Garrison isn't homophobic (however, I am far from convinced on that score), but he needs to apologise and apologise properly for two things. One: Not proof-reading his crap before he put it in public space and checking if, hey, maybe that article on an issue which many people are divided over might cause offense, and Two: Being a shit writer with a serious lack of knowledge when it comes to the genre of satire.

Posted by Rebecca | March 19, 2007 3:39 PM

In the whole long run of GK's career, this will barely register as a blip.

It would take a load of fuck-ups and failures--say, supporting the Iraq invastion, threatening to drag Green Party candidates to their deaths, declaring the AIDS epidemic to be over, alienating proponents of gay marriage, and a few other things there isn't space to go into--to really tarnish a career. Shit like that really tends to cling.

Posted by Boomer | March 19, 2007 3:43 PM

What makes Garrison's story venture into homophobia (and prejudice against "non-traditional" families in general) is his basic statement that "nature = the older traditional arrangements". His assumption is that those arrangements of the past (if they existed) were what "nature" wanted and nowadays we've drifted from that by our stepfamilies, second marriages, and gay households.

Saying "nature wants this" or "nature wants that" is a classic way of advocating a subjective, biased viewpoint in a manner that seems objective. Because, hey, he's just describing nature. Hence his assertion that he is "stating the obvious".

Critical thinking rule: whenever anyone says that things are this way because "nature" makes it, alarm bells should go off. Especially when we are talking about which family arrangements, or human beings, are better than others

Posted by Harry | March 19, 2007 4:04 PM


There's a sense of lament and saddness in his tone. And the passages about how gay dads are going complicate a family that's already "to the breaking point" so they best hold back their famboyance -- to support the kids.

Homophbia anyone?

Posted by Harry | March 19, 2007 4:15 PM

Dan Savage is too stupid to live. Your reader's should be ashamed. You're making blanket statements about a cultural icon. At no point in his original article did GK say he believed that all homosexuals wore chartreuse, at no point does he condemn gay marriage, or say that gays wouldn't make good parents, he's talking about the country as a whole and a change which we are experiencing in the way children are raised. And if you haven't noticed that. Then you're even dumber than I thought.

Posted by Dave M. | March 19, 2007 4:20 PM

I will concede one thing to Savage's critics.

It's simply impossible for ANY opinion to be interpreted or received the same. So Savage's comment that "anyone gay or straight, whether they know gays or not should see Garrison's words as homophobic and hypocritical"

is really esay to disprove with the black swan found in the first comment of the guy whose gay friends found it funny.

More for the other guys who counteere.

I think their blind somewhat, but how far can we go to say that these critics are gays who don't know what's best for them?

Sigh, I hate the trouble you've caused Garrison.

Savage, you've got your work cut out for you...

Posted by Harry | March 19, 2007 4:24 PM


-- At no point in his original article did GK say he believed that all homosexuals wore chartreuse, at no point does he condemn gay marriage, or say that gays wouldn't make good parents,--

Your right, Garrison doesn't EXPLICITLY say it. But we know better than set that low a standard.

Your next comment:

--he's talking about the country as a whole and a change which we are experiencing in the way children are raised.--

And, according to Garrison, it seems that differeing family arrangements, including gay families, are making things harder, so much that the American family is at "the breaking point" (Garrison's words) and gay dads need to dress a certain way to cut the damage.

There's atone of lament in Garrison's voice. Lament at the complicating effects of a world that is growing beyond the "ideal" that Garrison speaks of. And "ideal" that not only does Garrison miss, but (his words) so does "nature" miss this ideal.

Posted by Harry | March 19, 2007 4:33 PM

I agree with Fnarf above. Dan, you were wrong and your response here is disappointing. Keillor didn't need to apologize for the article. He apologized for the misunderstanding, which was courteous of him.

Posted by Gabriel | March 19, 2007 4:37 PM

Why is it people who agree 90% of the time (that is, most liberals) are so ready the 10% of the time they don't, to make a circular firing squad?

Keillor is not an enemy. He may be a bit tin-earred on this subject, but he gets it.

We don't need to be fighting our allies, even if they are not exactly perfectly what we would want them to be. We need to forge coalitions even with imperfect allies to fight our enemies. You know, the ones who APPROVE of iHOP expelling the lesbians?


Posted by IT | March 19, 2007 5:05 PM

Well, however it is that Garrison voices his support for gays next time around, I'll bet it'll include fewer "misunderstandings". Maybe even less "satire".

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | March 19, 2007 5:07 PM

I agree with you 100%
GK may not be homophobic, but his column last week was
I think your analysis was spot-on
It shows how even a person who thinks he is without prejudice, may still harbor (an, unfortunately, express on a national stage) bias
Most unfortunate is his lack of a real apology and his resistance to re-reading his words as they may appear to his gay audience as well as the straights who may laugh at his observations and take satisfaction that GK, like them, thinks that gays are inferior as parents and people.

Posted by rod | March 19, 2007 5:26 PM

I agree with you 100%
GK may not be homophobic, but his column last week was
I think your analysis was spot-on
It shows how even a person who thinks he is without prejudice, may still harbor (an, unfortunately, express on a national stage) bias
Most unfortunate is his lack of a real apology and his resistance to re-reading his words as they may appear to his gay audience as well as the straights who may laugh at his observations and take satisfaction that GK, like them, thinks that gays are inferior as parents and people.

Posted by rod | March 19, 2007 5:26 PM

I think that Dan Savage sounds a bit defensive in his response to Keillor. But it makes sense that he would be. If my relationship, my ability to parent, and my family were the continually under attack, I would be defensive too. It seems like a normal response to having your humanity attacked.

Posted by Katie | March 19, 2007 5:30 PM

I agree with Dan.


Posted by MyDogBen | March 19, 2007 5:32 PM

I'm sorry, but that apology was far from acceptable.

I'm a straight, liberal male with a sarcastic sense of humor. I am far from hypersensitive about politically or culturally risque humor. But what Keillor wrote turned my stomach. And that he feels what he said was just some inside humor amongst socially hip intellectuals is either an arrogant copout or a sign that he's a complete idiot. If that's the case, he has no business communicating in a public forum.

Posted by Adam | March 19, 2007 5:38 PM

Keep up the good work, Dan. This isn't the first homophobic joke Mr. Kiellor has made on a national platform. On his show a couple months ago he remarked how classic writers' work would have been improved if their illnesses could have been treated by today's medicines. Among the afflictions: depression, alcoholism, and homosexuality. Funny stuff.

Posted by Jim | March 19, 2007 5:42 PM

NO. It does not make sense to be so sensitive. It makes you weak, which you are, incredibly weak, if you really don't know what homophobia is, so that you would call the GK peice homphobic.

Posted by Tommy | March 19, 2007 5:58 PM

I think the chances are very good that GK has been sucking dick longer than Dan Savage ...... betcha

Yeah, Dan, you did not invent dick sucking......

Posted by Jean Paul | March 19, 2007 6:06 PM

About a month ago a writer in a major entertainment publication included a throwaway phrase in a sentence on Garrison Keillor - "who is not the really nice guy you probably think he is." Too true, and in this case, Dan's savagery is right on the money... which is the only reason Keillor (who always makes me think of Stephen King on heavy 'ludes) is implying an apology.

Posted by Mad Mick | March 19, 2007 6:29 PM

I actually think Keillor was way off base and really homophobic, and I remember seeing that and thinking...


Thanks for taking this on.

Posted by Alexander | March 19, 2007 6:41 PM

Looking again at Keillor's column, I think it needs to be read aloud with a certain inflection to come off as satire. As text on a page it utterly misses the mark.

Posted by kevin | March 19, 2007 7:39 PM

I think Garrison Keillor is drinking. Thank you for listening.

Posted by Angela Channing | March 19, 2007 8:32 PM

has a great take on this issue. Dan's losing it.

Posted by Kevin Erickson | March 19, 2007 10:21 PM

Did anyone else notice the lament about the second graders in the original GK (who ever he is, hadn't read or heard of him prior to this flap) post? You know the part, "...Somali, Ethiopian, Hmong, Hispanic. Only about six kids looked anything like the kids I went to school with, and of those, three were Croatian."

So the focus seems to be perhaps more on the chartreuse pants comment, which was relatively offensive, but does the comment quoted above offend anyone else?

I will freely admit my ignorance of this guy's writing, radio, and film 'entertainment', and based on this one particular article, I won't actively seek out anything else by this guy. Mostly because I just don't see humor in this Reader's Digest whining about how things were 'better' in the 'good old days' when women knew their place, lynch mobs had free reign, and those uppity homos could be beaten to death with impunity.

As for the 'apology', and those that defend it, the man was NOT expressing contrition for making (to my mind at least) bigoted statements thinly veiled as a satirical lament for the 1950s, he was calling me a dumbass and worthless for not being one of his sycophants.

Posted by Mike | March 19, 2007 10:47 PM

I think Dan's right that the piece was homophobic, and I hardly see three blog entries as some sort of titanic overreaction that "proves" that Dan is out of his mind.

Also, I can't think of a worse way to apologise for offending a minority group than by saying "Well, I said it that way for people like me, who *know* the gays, and everyone else just isn't getting it." How does saying that placate the actual people you've offended?

Posted by Kiru Banzai | March 19, 2007 11:54 PM

Dan, you got sat-tarred. And you weren't even the target.

Posted by jiminychristmas! | March 20, 2007 12:25 AM

Dan: You lose at the sarcasms.

I grew up the child of a mixed-gender marriage that lasted until death parted them, and I could tell you about how good that is for children, and you could pay me whatever you think it's worth.

In other words, that statement wouldn't be worth much.

Everyone had a yard, a garage, a female mom, a male dad, and a refrigerator with leftover boiled potatoes in plastic dishes with snap-on lids....

Not exactly Donna Reed, is it?

Monogamy put the parents in the background where they belong and we children were able to hold center stage. We didn't have to contend with troubled, angry parents demanding that life be richer and more rewarding for them.

In other words, children had passive losers for role models.

We blossomed and agonized and fussed over our outfits and learned how to go on a date and order pizza and do the twist...

In other words --- left to lives of trivial, superficial bullshit.

while Mom and Dad stood like smiling, helpless mannequins in the background.

Again -- passive losers for role models.

Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. Thatís for the kids. Itís their show.

And again; and this time, with tragically unhip fashion sense.

Posted by K | March 20, 2007 1:17 AM

Thanks for your insightful commments on the "apology"! I always hate it when people apologize like that. I totally agree with you on Keillor's column and I hope you keep up the great work!

Posted by Simon | March 20, 2007 1:22 AM

"The only explanation is that Dan is trying to be irrelevant and trying to take all us gays with him."

Oh yes, because the entire fate of Dan Savage AND the gay community rests on his comments about a stupid Keillor column.

I'm always amazed at how easily, and how happily, other gays will complain if a gay man ever complains about homophobia.

Posted by Jon | March 20, 2007 3:09 AM


Good call on the racial comment. I saw that too. Your accusation of Garrison's racial bias seems to be similar to the gay bias, in that both are expressed through Garrison's lament for easier times past.

Easier, when white, straight, manly men were the dominant species, before all those complicated colors (ie the full spectrum of humanity) came to be.

Sigh, I miss white power

Posted by Harry | March 20, 2007 4:01 AM

Also @74

--As for the 'apology', and those that defend it, the man was NOT expressing contrition for making (to my mind at least) bigoted statements thinly veiled as a satirical lament for the 1950s, he was calling me a dumbass and worthless for not being one of his sycophants.---

Again here you go, prejudice expressed as lament. And what's important to catch here is that we are talking of thinly veiled prejudice. If Garrison's defender's keep saying that he's OK because he "didn't mean it" or "didn't say it" they are only looking for openly expressed prejudice, and that is setting the bar low, as prejudice also is expressed in thinly veiled forms. unconscious too (hence the concept of the freudian slip)

Intentions don't make actions

Posted by Harry | March 20, 2007 4:07 AM

While GK is not always funny, this column is a perfect spin for the petition that only those who begat should be allowed to marry.

Posted by gleeindc | March 20, 2007 4:10 AM

Good call on the racial comment. I saw that too. Your accusation of Garrison's racial bias seems to be similar to the gay bias, in that both are expressed through Garrison's lament for easier times past.

Are you all really this stupid? Keillor is not yearning for this "past" that he's describing. He doesn't want some all-white, all-hetero wholesome middle America. Many of you are obviously not familiar with his work, and you're just looking foolish by making such accusations.

Posted by Gabriel | March 20, 2007 7:37 AM

Good for you Mr. Savage --brilliant and inspiring. Recently I read something about gay people getting past the "sally field 'you like me, you really like me'" stance and I couldn't agree more. Keep pushing buttons---keep holding feet to the fire. Maybe more of us will find some shred of self-respect and do the same.

Posted by Jennifer | March 20, 2007 9:06 AM

Big fan of Dan for years, big fan of GK for years. Used to live in MN, live in WA now. Cried along w/ GK when Paul Wellstone's plane crashed (killing a friend of mine who was also on the plane, incidently.) GK is good peeps, but we all have our good days and our bad days.

GK's piece wasn't good. It wasn't up to his usual style. I personally read it as pro-gay marriage, pro-gay parenting. But I have many, many friends who did not, including people who love GK and PHC. I totally understand and respect how Dan and anyone else would be pissed and want to call GK to task.

But this is a LIBERAL guy on our side 95% of the time. There's a difference between how you treat your friends when they fuck up and how you treat your enemies. Dan's continued anger over this issue seems weird- yeah, GK gave a half assed apology, but he did give an apology and he stated uncategorically at the end that gays make good parents.

Dan, please celebrate the fact you got through to GK, that he made a public statement of contrition of some form, and move on to tearing Pace, Gonzales, Bush, Brownback, and so on new assholes. Thanks.

Posted by Big Sven | March 20, 2007 9:29 AM

"I'm always amazed at how easily, and how happily, other gays will complain if a gay man ever complains about homophobia."

Well that's because you are not listening. There is a difference between homophobia and "Keillor's stupid column." (Think Pace, Hardaway, Coulter). Dan makes the concept meaningless. That's the complaint.

Posted by Tommy | March 20, 2007 11:06 AM

Dan is completely right, and for everyone who says he's over reacting, well, thinking about and analyzing something at length doesn't at all infer someone is overeacting. It means they've looked at the facts and are being thoughtful.

Prez Bush would Dan of being nuanced, but Bush is unintelligent. Dan is right on.

Posted by Mike Will | March 20, 2007 12:24 PM

Dan is completely right, and for everyone who says he's over reacting, well, thinking about and analyzing something at length doesn't at all infer someone is overeacting. It means they've looked at the facts and are being thoughtful.

Prez Bush would accuse Dan of being nuanced, but Bush is unintelligent. Dan is right on.

Posted by Mike Will | March 20, 2007 12:24 PM

Sorry, but just because some of you people weren't offended doesn't mean GK's remarks were inoffensive.

Sustitute watermelon-chomping, white-woman-raping black people or money-grubbing, power-hungry Jews and see how funny it is.

I'd have liked something along the lines of, "In an attempt to be funny, I resorted to stale, hurtful stereotypes . . . "

Posted by Ken | March 20, 2007 1:11 PM

Mike Will, when you refer to Dan's thoughtful nuance, are you referring to him writing "Fuck You, Garrison Keillor," calling him "Asshole, Asshole, Asshole,", dubbing him "Garrison Coulter," or encouraging people to disrupt his show?

Posted by Gabriel | March 20, 2007 2:01 PM

You know, I'm not terribly familiar with GK, I've never heard a PHC, I thought his column was pretty terrible, but the last sentence of the apology, which Savage does not highlight went a long way to convince me that GK was truly sorry, and that he was misunderstood.

Gay people who set out to be parents can be just as good parents as anybody else, and they know that, and so do I.

This is what needs to be highlighted, and shouted from the mountaintops.

Dan Savage is living proof of that statement

Posted by Matt Rose | March 20, 2007 2:08 PM

No, I didn't see that. I was referring to his dissection of the meanings within GK's article.

Posted by mike will | March 20, 2007 2:11 PM

Amen, Matt. That sentence should be the be-all end-all of this matter.

Posted by Gabriel | March 20, 2007 2:37 PM

Since when did humor become an acceptable excuse for making hateful comments?

In reading over the comments that have been made in response to DS's reaction, I find it troubling how many gay men take an apathetic stance to GK's comments. Opression of gay people is so prevelant, that homophobia has become an institutionalized part of our culture. It's inescapable. As gay men, we have endured so much homophobia, whether it be overt, covert, intentional, or unintentional, that we have internalized the opression to the point that we are not only unresponsive, but we actually excuse it. In order to identify with the dominant heterosexual culture, we will often go so far as to laugh along with the biggotry. That's one of the saddest parts about opression - It becomes so ingrained in our psyche, that we don't even recognize it when it's happening.

Rather than criticize DS for his reaction, we should be thankful for him and others who are willing to take a stand on our behalf. Some would say we need to chose our battles. Perhaps. But where would we be if all gay people were passive and never spoke out. To make change we have to be heard, and sometimes in order to be heard we have to shout. Besides, heterosexuals are comfortable. They have their rights and their privlidge. The only way change will happen is when they become uncomfortable. It's our job as gay people to make them uncomfortable. And if that means holding influencial people resonsible for their words, than so be it.

Posted by Tom E | March 20, 2007 4:07 PM

and how many marriages for GK? I lost count at 3...

ah, the good 'ol days.

PHC is shit. He's not funny. Period.

Posted by your favorite stripper | March 20, 2007 5:43 PM

As someone who grew up on PHC ended up gay, I'm with Dan on this one. I get what GK is saying and that it was meant with a benign acceptance of new families and a changing world, but his assumptions and gay straw man are insulting. Especially when his other comments concerning gay marriage and the 2004 election underscore his DLC-esque willingness to throw gays under the bus for political expedience. I'm probably with the DLC more than the RNC, but pragmatism has to have a goal in mind. And in this case any informed liberal should be able to distinguish between a very real civil rights issue and the aesthetics of some imagined perfect childhood.

But I think the insult goes to something even more personal that gay people don't want to talk about (anymore than most of them want to talk about who's the bottom to straight couples). There's a lot of internalized homophobia that is a constant fucking weight on your shoulders. There's a lot of gay people who can "pass" and are constantly in situation where they are monitoring their voice, mannerisms, tastes, etc. And to have some old, out-of-touch, I-have-gay-friends liberal try and peg you as a drama queen when you're a god damn trial attorney is fucking aggravating because it revs up that voice. "Can I play Madonna in my car? I'm wearing a suit and tie. What's that guy next to me thinking?" Now I know what GK is thinking.

So yeah, it's insulting to be lectured by some ostensibly sensitive and observant writer about striped sofas that you wouldn't buy and tiny dogs that you'd rather kick. But GK knows a lot of faggy artists so whatever. But then there's the added mental clusterfuck of ganging up on the flamers with the straights who are supposedly your friends.

I'd rather head to the shooting range with R. Lee Ermey.

Posted by Pansy Division Invades Lake Wobegon | March 20, 2007 5:48 PM

It is sad to see a professional writer who has this hard a time detecting satire. I agree that the original piece was not perfectly written, but the satire is obvious if the reader employs the methods of close reading (the kind you learn to do in school) and critical thinking. I can see not getting the subtle satire, as many didn't, initially, but once it's been pointed out to you? You still don't see it?

You are taking apart the essay piece by piece here and debating its literal meaning for naught, because none of the lines you quote and try to cleverly attack mean what you think they do. They are satiric, meaning the mean the opposite of what they say. GK is poking fun at the "gay marriage is not natural" argument by explaining that if we used that logic, parents shouldn't bother doing anything for their own happiness at all, since that is also not "natural" or required for the continuation of the species. He is making fun of those who THINK the old days were uniform and great and simple, and not actually saying that he thinks that about those days. See?

He is NOT making the point that adults should be in the background and deny their own needs for the sake of their kids. That is the literal reading, and your interpretation. His meaning is the complete opposite. He is trying to point how silly that argument is. He is not "stating the obvious" as you say, he is pointing out that what many think is obvious and a given, is in fact not at all. (Get it? Satire means saying the opposite of what you mean in order to make a point. Here's a hint" try reading each sentence separately and take what you think each sentence means and then tell yourself it means the opposite. That he is not actually saying what you think he's saying but that he is pointing out that others think this way but that it is very ridiculous to do so. Good luck.)

He isn't making that gay stereotype that is written in the essay, he is pointing out that that that is the stereotype this country has of gays and when he says the bright pants need to be toned down for the sake of the kids(could it be any more satirical? "THINK OF THE CHILDREN, don't wear chartreuse"--God, how can you NOT get it?), he is trying to say that that is how many of those people think and trying to point out how ridiculous that is. I agree that he could have been clearer and written a better satirical essay, thus his clarification, but that you still insist on the most rudimentary, literal, superficial reading of this piece is sad, and speaks volumes about you (and your reading ability), not GK.

"Iím sorry, but there arenít two ways to read this column." This really frightens me. You are someone who is supposedly more literate than the average person given that you are a writer and yet you cannot see even some clue, some small sign, that maybe even some small part of what you are reading here--especially after it's been pointed out to you very clearly--may be satiric.

The American public is becoming less and less literate and losing critical thinking skills left and right and this post by you as well as the previous reactionary one, but especially this one, are perfect examples.

The problem isn't so much that GK assumed most readers would have the same mindset he does and be aware of his views and thus get the joke; the real problem is though we are used to snark and sarcasm, we are no longer used to subtlety and writing that requires thinking and work. We want our words spoon fed to us like everything else. Your argument here is as silly as if you took Jonathon Swift to task for his absurd proposal that it really would be better for all if we just ate babies rather than let them grow and prosper. The worst part is you still think GK should be apologizing when it's clear you are the one whose reading skills need work and who made an error and yet still can't admit it.

Please consider taking a few literature courses and practice your close reading. It will do you good. Start with "A Modest Proposal."

Posted by M | March 20, 2007 6:35 PM

Wow. Who knew Garrison had so many gay fans? Most all the comments on here sound like they were written by his fanboys.

Keep on fighting Dan!

Posted by Steve | March 20, 2007 8:00 PM

>I get what GK is saying

I don't think you do. As "M" pointed out, above, the whole piece, it seems to me, was supposed to read as exactly the OPPOSITE of its surface meaning. It was a satire. Yes, poorly written, yes, a bit ill-conceived, but satire, nevertheless. Two lines in particular stand out:

"we started down the path toward begetting children while Mom and Dad stood like smiling, helpless mannequins in the background"


"So I told them a story about how, back in the day, we were cowboys and rode horses across those flat spaces, rounding up our cattle, even in blizzards"

Does anyone actually think GK was a cowboy rounding up cattle in blizzards back in the day?

GK is clearly ON OUR SIDE, folks. Dan's column wasn't an "overreaction" so much as it was a complete misreading of the column which was clearly PRO-gay marriage.

Posted by S | March 20, 2007 8:01 PM

Dan did not say that he's been sucking dick for 25 years, but that gays have been sucking his for 25 years - since he was 12 eh?

Just kidding - I know better, since I read Wikipedia:

Meanwhile, better recheck that google-citation count, EXTC (#13). I see something quite different.

Posted by George from Champaign | March 21, 2007 4:22 AM


Er--who made you think that YOUR opinion counted for anything?

Shut the fuck up, ya crybaby. I'm not sure when you and Rosie O'Donnell both started defining the word "homophobe" as anyone who didn't go out of their way to kiss your ass with every single thing they said and did, but that's not the definition the rest of the world has.

I guess throwing a shitfit about Keillor is a comfortable break from the routine self-loathing, but it's pretty boring for those of us who aren't complete narcissists.

Posted by bwoociewoocie | March 21, 2007 6:40 AM

Er, Bwoociewoocie, who made you think that YOUR opinion counted for anything?

Posted by Ken | March 21, 2007 9:03 AM

My opinion don't mean jack, Kenny. Realizing that, I don't try to justify my existence with shrill rants about how the world owes me a living because of my own sexual preference. Not sure what Danbla's excuse for doing that is...

Say hi to Barbie for me.

Posted by bwoociewoocie | March 21, 2007 9:12 AM

Let's parse that Bushian "apology" of Mr. Keillor's and the excuses of his fanboys on here:

1) It's okay, some of Garrison's best friends are homos.

2) The people who were offended by his article don't know him, and at any rate they're too stupid to understand satire.

I've been listening to "Prairie Home" since the late 1970s, so I think I know Mr. Keillor, or at least his style of humor. I am not too stupid to understand satire. And I am still annoyed and offended by his article. It had no coherent point to make (necessary for successful satire), it was completely tone-deaf to the current vicious debate about gay families, and it wasn't funny.

Posted by David | March 21, 2007 11:08 AM


See message #101.

Posted by Roger | March 21, 2007 11:25 AM

Only in this state (the most pathetically liberal, immoral state in the union) would so many people think that it's ok for two homosexuals to be parents.
And only the weak minded make "standup" statements against this disgusting existence and end up buckling and apologizing for say the truth.

Posted by aj | March 21, 2007 11:33 AM

Clearly he meant what he said, whether he knew it or not. The absurdity of gay marriage is self-evident when one accepts the truism that the entire point of marriage, family and existence itself is propogation of the species. We intuit that mothers are important to child development, not merely replacable by gay men. E.g., the bottle is a poor feeding and bonding alternative to mother's milk. Duh. Keillor and other liberals recognize these truisms in unguarded moments, then issue apologies and enter rehab after they logically expound on the premise in public.

Posted by sam | March 21, 2007 11:42 AM

Slow news day, Dan? Seriously, our resources can clearly be spent in more intelligent ways than tearing apart GK's column. And for the record, as a gay man from GK's hometown, I took no offense at his column. Apology unneeded.

Posted by V_MAN | March 21, 2007 12:22 PM

Dan: Love you, love your book, and your kid sounds great. You are cute as hell, while we're at it, and I value your cultural bomb-throwing as a necessary and entertaining part of our culture. But really, please accept the man's apology and move on. Doing otherwise is making you look, well, just mean.

Posted by terry | March 21, 2007 12:33 PM

I get the sense that there is some sort of Public Radio envy issue here..."Keillor gets all the money and audience, and we who don't are all sick of it". Everything he does is wrong.

Posted by don | March 21, 2007 1:06 PM

I'm gay, and when I read GK's original article, I didn't think it was offensive at all. When I saw that he had written an "anti-gay" column on Drudge, I was imagining something where he actually insulted us.

In fact, what ran through my head while I read the article was exactly what he said in his "apology".

GK's article is no worse-- in fact, less so-- than gay and gay-friendly comedians who make "stating the obvious" jokes about straight people.

Those of you that were offended need to learn what humour is. Get over yourselves.

Posted by gary | March 21, 2007 2:19 PM

Dan, we love you....we really, really do, but we can't help but be disappointed by your response to GK. You might want to think about why you reacted so vehemently to someone so harmless and well meaning. In my experience, people who can't take a joke at their expense have something to learn about themselves.

Posted by brandon | March 21, 2007 3:08 PM

Wrong wrong wrong about GK. I've listened for years and the man is not homophobic. In fact, he is enlightened and inclusive. You're picking a fight with the wrong guy.

Posted by Spence | March 21, 2007 6:06 PM

In the article, Keillor writes with nostalgia about growing up in a two parent, heterosexual family, but by paragraph's end that nostalgia seems misplaced when these ideal parents are compared to nonresponsive mannequinns. Later, when he writes that nature is about the continuation of the species, the reader knows something is amiss when Keillor sardonically concludes that nature does not care about the emotional welfare of older people (I'm not sure that this is the conclusion the lawmakers you see Keiller emulating have in mind). Granted, this is not the strongest piece of writing, but for most of the supposedly offending quotes you embolden in the text, you lop off the satyrical observation that lets us know something is amiss in the writer's words, and that perhaps he wants us to reevaluate them.

Posted by Dan | March 21, 2007 10:18 PM

C'mon Dan, lighten up!

Posted by Neal | March 22, 2007 1:37 AM

C'mon Savage, lighten up!

Posted by Neal | March 22, 2007 1:38 AM

C'mon Savage, lighten up!

Posted by Neal | March 22, 2007 1:39 AM

No, Mr. Savage, I'd rather not "-stop here for a second." It's possible to decontstruct nearly any apology ever made and turn it into a not-apology, if that's the writer's mood. Mr. Keillor uses the word "sorry" and I can't detect any hidden agendas, subtle ironies, or double meanings in the quote. Therefore, he's sorry. Therefore, he apologized. You're not content. I accept that, as you must accept it....and deal with it.

Posted by rico567 | March 22, 2007 3:58 AM

You win at life here, seriously. For the ""Excuse meÖ what? Iím pretty familiar with gay people, seeing as how gay people have been sucking my cock for close to 25 years now."- bit alone already.

I live in the Netherlands, my friend pointed this out to me, and as I was reading your column, I found myself amazed at what GK said, and that someone actually decided to publish it. Now I know there's a huge difference between US and Dutch standards, but, my God. It's just straight up offensive.

So well done, your column. GK wasn't funny, and he didn't try to be funny, and he indeed only apologized for being misunderstood. He should try getting this published in Holland -- he wouldn't know what would hit him.

Posted by Adinda | March 22, 2007 4:32 AM

We as a gay community need to stop ripping our obvious allies apart, and focus our efforts on the true bigots, those who hate us. I am gay, and from the midwest, where GK has a strong following. We respect him and appreciate the kind of humor he brings to the world. Just because one of us doesn't like it, does not make him a bad person.

Posted by Rob | March 22, 2007 6:52 AM

you missed the boat on this one. completely. in fact, you never even made it to the dock. the selections you have highlighted conveniently disregard the surrounding text as though it has no bearing whatsoever on the passages that caused you such offense. in other words, you're taking it *completely* out of context.

i'm not a fan of GK, never read any of his work, but it doesn't take too much imagination to see this piece for what it is: satire. and it's not mocking gay people or divorce, it's mocking those that consider the so-called "better days" of the past an attainable ideal, even though these ideals never actually existed to begin with. i learned about this in 9th grade english - it's called "irony."

to be sure, the only offense keillor commits here is NOT BEING FUNNY.

Posted by brandon | March 22, 2007 1:25 PM

Dan Savage is an ANALYZING GUY. That's what we like. We like him to pick the nits. You can disagree, but so so with your tweezers poised aloft with a nit between them; don't go telling him "you lost, get over it" or "pick your battles". Fuck all a y'all.

And Fuck Garrison Keillor some more, because Dan is right: the column's litany of stereotypes are exactly the ones being used today to screw the gays over [and their children or would-be children], and if you're going to cry satire it had better look a lot like satire, and not be completely consistent with your usual persona of fuddy-duddy. I do think his apology was in the right direction - he's saying he was negligent, not intentional in his damage, and that's ok if it's really true - but I think it should have been stronger and more self-critical. He's playing with fire, with a vulnerable population that has enough grief without his unintenional satire being used as talking points. And a guy with a national audience has no business bleating that he lives in a small world.

Posted by Phoebe | March 22, 2007 1:52 PM

When Keillor refers to his 'small world,' he doesn't mean that he expects you should recognize his attempt at satire if you know any gay people. He means he's used to feeling like others know he's kidding when he says such things, because they know *him*.

In his 'small world,' "we're all friends here." Amongst strangers, fewer liberties may be taken, more things must be explained. He says he forgot he wasn't just amongst friends. That's his defense.

Posted by frightwig | March 22, 2007 2:54 PM

Dan, I love ya, but remind me not to invite you over for Book Group. I dread to imagine what you think Huckleberry Finn is about. See comment #77 for an excellent explanation of the satire in the piece.

Posted by Lisa | March 22, 2007 7:36 PM

Dan, I love ya, but remind me not to invite you over for Book Group. I dread to imagine what you think Huckleberry Finn is about. See comment #77 for an excellent explanation of the satire in the piece.

Posted by Lisa | March 22, 2007 7:37 PM

Most of the people defending Keillor aren't doign so because they "recognized his irony" or any other such schtick -- heck, just changing the byline on the article to Ann Coulter would have shifted them from saying "that Garrison's humor is sooooo sophisticated!" to "that cunt should be killed!"

The reality is that liberals don't want to face up to the facts -- that lots and lots and lots of liberals are homophobic.

They've sold themselves (and the rest of the world, by extension) this fairy-tale view that liberals are all peace and love and freedom and tolerance, when the reality is quite different.

Lots of liberals hate us. It's a different kind of hate -- not the deranged, screaming, vicious drooling hatred of the far right. It's rather a corrosive, dry-rot hatred of contempt towards gays. As long as we fit their preconceived notion of gays as the "funny eccentric ones" -- the people who the liberal is "cool" because he knows some of us; the people who he reflexively sorta-defends from the conservatives (at GREAT COST for which we apparently OWE him); the people who he can cite when he explains why "all families aren't necessarily equal" as evidence of his great tolerance and perspective. . . as long as we fit all those notions, we're A-OK.

But step out of line with a perspective where one disagrees with any of his platform, or where a gay person doesn't fit the stereotype (political or cultural), and the viciousness comes out.

Ironically, the liberal often views himself as the only person who is permitted to be politically incorrect. He can tell gay jokes because he's a liberal -- we all know that he's "compassionate" and "tolerant" and "just doing it for fun." (Meanwhile, when the conservative moron tells the same joke, the liberal puts on his sad, drawn face and shakes his head about the hatred out there).

That's what Keillor's article was, in essence. He was telling a fag joke, in print, as a "tolerant and ironic understanding liberal above criticism." The same people who slammed Ann Coulter for calling Edwards a faggot are busy slamming those of us who also found Keillor's offensive "faggot" stereotypes.

In short, they're hypocrites, and they'd sooner fool themselves into believing gays aren't also hated by people in liberal circles than acknowledge the reality of the situation.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 23, 2007 10:29 AM

Dan, you're an idiot. You have completely misread the column--good job ignoring half the lines in there, and focusing on the literal meaning of the other half. And, rather than admit that you're wrong, you've dug in your heels.

Very impressive.

Posted by p | March 23, 2007 11:08 AM

Those against Dan's take on the issue miss what's really at stake: equal rights for gays and dismantling discrimination and combatting bigotry. Dan's a crusader for these things and to allow Keillor to have his say unopposed would be irresponsible.

As for Keillor's appropriateness in writing what he did, he should have considered this: if you wouldn't print equivalently offensive stereotypes about Jews (moneygrubbing, obnoxious, conniving) or blacks (stupid, lazy, criminal), then you shouldn't print it about any other group. When you're scraping the barrel for material and all you can come up with is stereotypes, it's time to pack it in. If Keillor's deluded enough to think this qualifies as a wry political statement, then someone needs to take him out back and whoop his ass.

And that's exactly what Dan did. Well done, Mr. Savage!

Posted by The Zieg | March 24, 2007 4:23 PM

I refuse to believe this is just "he means the exact opposite" satire. Close reading or not, that's just not what the column is communicating to me. "A Modest Proposal" satire has never been Keillor's thing. His is somewhere in between. Some place of strange exaggeration that still connects to readers and listeners' feelings. It IS tongue-in-cheek because he is aware of his own exaggerations. Dan didn't miss this.
The problem is that we hear these opinions all the time, in more exaggerated form, from people who don't consider themselves entertainers. Keillor is topped by people with sincere intentions about family values. That kills whatever comedy he was attempting. Whether it's Keillor's own opinion doesn't really matter. He's trying to connect with an audience. That's what writing a column is about. Unforunately, he left his intentions ambiguous with a pretty weak tongue-in-cheek column and then apologized to everyone who "didn't get it" because they are out in the real world.

Posted by DE | March 25, 2007 5:48 AM

The thing that gives the lie to Keillor's "apology" (besides its transparent insincerity) is his unabashed religiosity which on Prairie Home Companion--to which I have listened for 25 years--is NOT ironic or humorous but all too patently and achingly sincere. Yes, he DOES long for an imagined 1950s world (he and I are about the same age) but he did not, like me, grow up under the homophobic cloud that covered America--which prevented me from pursuing the career for which I was educated--and which drove me abroad for a (happy) decade. His all-too-earnest deliveries of hymns on his show should, I have long thought (and pled, to NPR stations), have gotten his show suspended: where are his acknowledgements of people with other religions or--like me--none? He goes out of his way to select, when the show travels outside St. Paul, church choirs, for example, who I don't think see their performances as part of a "radio COMEDY show." He's the person "with black friends"--who still somehow thinks there are... DIFFERENCES...that should be "acknowledged"--as "part of our cultural diversity." I think his show has hits humorous moments, but his schtick has been too unvaried over the decades to continue to be funny; and finally, no, I don't trust him with his religiosity or his professed homophilia.

Posted by Darryl Spencer | March 25, 2007 9:41 AM

Lighten up. Get out of your polka dot pants and stop taking umbrage at every slight. You'll wear us all out.

Posted by Nate Galbreath | March 25, 2007 9:17 PM

I love Mr. Keillor's oblique sense of humor, but this was, at best, a confusing column.

GK unarguably steps on his own dick by wierdly trotting out the sterotypical trappings of gayness as an example of our culture's arrested development. He is trying to be cute but he fails spectacularly. The causes for the controversies around gay marriage are numberless and complicated and there are too many victims of ignorance and idiocy to use gay flamboyance as a symbol of our nation's shortcomings. That was thoughtless of Mr. Keillor, even stupid, but not necessarily homophobic. He is generally a much better writer than that and has said and done far too many good things for the progressive movement for me to write him off over this one transgression.

For a much clearer distillation of Mr. Keillor's original point I suggest reading Robert Bly's book, The Sibling Society, where Mr. Bly takes us baby boomers to task for our consensual self-absorption and general lack of real parenting skills - whatever our gender orientation.

Posted by David Conner | March 26, 2007 2:09 PM

As a fan of Keillor and a regular reader of Savage Love, and as a straight man, if not to say "straight man," I admit that I was puzzled by GK's original column --it didn't read as successful satire or humor--he is a good writer, so it's weird to see him not accomplish what he set out to do--and in fact it was hard to see what his point was at all--so I understand Dan's assumption that it simply meant what it looked like it meant. And that was unfortunate.

Posted by Michael57 | March 29, 2007 7:09 AM

133 comments so far, all over whether Garrison Keillor offended gays. This is perhaps why I've never done well in this community, despite our similarities in sexual attractions. Lighten up, realize that marriage is screwed up with or without our bunch in the mix, and don't always be looking for a fight. (There are plenty of real ones that will find you.)

Posted by Matt | March 29, 2007 3:23 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).