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December 30, 2005

Comments

Peony Moss

Curious how Keillor just takes it as a given that the Church isn't doing anything for the poor and doesn't think her own teachings on social justice are a priority. And I love his assumption that the writer's a lock-step libertarian Republican: if you're not a Democrat, obviously you think Medicare cuts are a great idea. Because of course Jesus had all kinds of stuff to say about Medicaid.

Rich Leonardi

From Keillor's response:

Your sense of persecution is wildly misplaced. If the Democratic party is out of step with the Church, it's because the two are separate and independent, and because the church believes that its teachings on abortion and gays and contraception are more important than its teachings on social justice. Christ said a great deal about the poor, so one would think that's important in Christian theology, but you can make up your own mind about that. If you're outraged at a piece of comedy about the Pope and you accept with equanimity the people in your party cutting Medicaid, then you're a very interesting Christian indeed.

Teachings on abortion, contraception, and sexuality? Negotiable of course.

Fully funding the already bloated budget of an arm of the welfare state? Mandatory according to the Gospel of Garrison, which sadly has been grafted onto the lectionary of more than a few dioceses.

Cornelius

Keillor: why can't Episcopalians play chess? Because they can't tell a bishop from a queen . . . snip

Must admit, this is pretty funny . . . :)

Keillor's response is not bad up to the point where he starts to offer what he thinks is serious criticism of the Church (what Rich Leonardi quotes above). His criticism is risibly bad.

But he does have a point: Catholics have to be able to take a poke now and then and not immediately scream "anti-Catholic persecution!"

Tim Ferguson

I like Prairie Home Companion, it always brings back happy memories of sitting in the back yard in the summer twilight, listening with the family. Garrison Keillor is a talented story-teller and an entertaining chap.

I missed the piece the letter-writer refers to, where he bashed the pope, though I don't doubt it happened. Garrison is a classic liberal: so blissfully caught up in his own world that he's not only unable to apologize, he's quite unaware of how anything he says could be offensive, and genuinely surprised when anyone takes offense. Sealed in a world, surrounded by the like-minded, the only logical assumption is that there's something wrong with the person who takes offense.

But Garrison Keillor is a nice man (Minnesota-nice, even). So he couldn't just come out and say, "C. Fleischman, you're a nut!" Instead, he patronizingly compliments her (him?), admits fault in a minor matter (he got Pope Benedict's name wrong), then tries to turn the matter around upon his critic, blaming it on his (her?) anger and then taking a potshot that the Church cares more about abortion, gays and contraception than social justice (isn't defense of life matter of social justice? doesn't the umpteen millions raised by the Church for tsunami, hurricane and earthquake relief in the last year matter?) Then he drops the stereotypical Minnesota insult, saying that the writer is likely an "interesting" Christian (translation: "interesting" in Minnesota is used to describe something detestable, loathesome, ugly or unpleasant, but a proper Minnesotan is too interested in preserving a veneer of "nice" to actually say so. e.g. "Mary, that dress is certainly...interesting.")

The left just can't understand their own anti-Catholic bigotry. Certain high-society whites in the 50's would have said, "I've got nothing against the blacks, some of them are quite decent fellows, like George, the porter, Adele, the maid and Johnny the shoeshine boy." Now lefties like Garrison say, with similar aplomb, "I'm not anti-Catholic, I make fun of everyone: Norwegians, Poles, Episcopalians..."
I'm sure he has a number of Catholics among his circle of friends.

Kevin Jones

Hey, I think the papal chair was a great idea, giving Catholic men the opportunity to show their support for the successor of Peter in a very physical way.

I've noticed Conan O'Brien is able to make fun of the papacy in a way that doesn't particularly offend, though it's likely often too irreverent. Keillor's comedy, if that is the right word, tends to accompany smarmy self-righteousness and libertine-enabling talk.

It's also interesting that Keillor deliberately refuses to consider advice about how to improve the Democratic party.

Gregg the obscure

In regard to Kevin Jones' last sentence above, the Church deliberately refuses to consider the left's advice as to how to improve the Church, so it shouldn't be surprising that the left, believing itself to be the supreme moral authority, reciprocates.

Patrick Kinsale

You can listen to Keillor's bit here.

http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2005/12/17/

It is in Segment 1. Keillor did resort to some German sterotyping, but I think his treatment of religious folks is usually respectful. Our whole family laughed at this.

Donald R. McClarey

Keillor used to be funny intentionally. Now he is only funny unintentionally when he is attempting to channel Mark Twain and pose as a sage. He should have stayed in Denmark.

Flambeaux

I've never found him the least bit amusing, nor do I understand the appeal. My wife and several friends of hers have tried to share him with me, but I just don't get it.

Oh well. Looks like I'm not missing much.

Brigid

Lighten up everyone. Keillor makes fun of every religion (the most being his own, Lutheran) and every politician and every holy day and just about every thing American. He's a comic. It's his job. And I've enjoyed every minute of it for the last 20 years I've been listening.

SiliconValleySteve

Keillor belongs to a group of people who believe that opposing abortion on-demand and homosexual marriage makes you a barbarian. Part of it is that simple. On the other hand, he is primarily a humorist and he certainly gets lots of mileage out of laughing at Midwestern protestants. It's his main shtick. When he states that in the response, he is pretty accurate. In opinion pieces he writes however such as the one about the election of Norm Coleman, he becomes completely unhinged and the very definition of what he opposes but then we're all hypocrites in some way.

Personally, I'm too ethnic-Catholic to get most of his humor but I love the musicians he has on.

sj

In response to an inquiry from a Jewish listener who wanted to know if there were any Jews in Lake Wobegone, and, if so, why he never talked about them, Garrison (on the PHC web page) stated that there were indeed a few Jews in Lake Wobegone but he wasn't ready to handle the massive grief he would get for talking about them on air. So he does have a line which he will not cross. I guess Catholics could take comfort that he feels at ease enough with us to make us the butt of his humor.

anon

"why can't Episcopalians play chess? Because they can't tell a bishop from a queen"

Based on the reception that Bishop Robison receives, I have the impression that gay bishops are a source of pride amongst Episcopalians. I would be hard pressed to put this joke on the same level as saying Catholics don't care about the poor.

reluctant penitent

Keillor a 'nice man'? Tell that to Norm Coleman, who was victim of the darker side of Keillor's character (Keillor hinted that Coleman's family life is a sham and gave credence to rumors that Coleman may have had something to do with Welstone's death). Nice Garrison is a facade. He is a very nasty and angry man.

Something about Keillor and Coleman here:

http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2002_11_10_archive.html#85675451

Tim Ferguson

That's exactly the essence of "Minnesota nice" - smile on the surface, while sharpening your dagger underneath your parka.

Mary Jane

While I don't seek out Prairie Home Companion, I do hear sometimes when driving around. Yes, some of the music is great. And some of the little dramas are amusing. But I never quite relax because there will always come a moment wiht GK's reflexive liberal streak will pop out (like the creature in "Alien").

It is true that liberals are often very clueless and assume that everyone agrees with them. I have a friend who routinely sends me anti-George Bush humnor because she can't believe that one of her friends would vote for him (or any non-Democrat). I usually let her assumption go unmentioned because I like everything else about her. Occasionally, I swat back. At the same time, I never assume anyone agrees with me about anything, so most of the time I'm not disappointed and once in a while I'm pleasantly surprised.

John E

Go get'em CF!

C Johnson

I (as an ethnic Catholic) am not his target audience and I don't particularly "get" his humor. But my husband (the Scandinavian Lutheran pastor's son from the upper midwest) is--and he can't stand him. Reluctant Penitant is correct--Keillor can be extremely mean-spirited and plain nasty; that's something that is much more obvious in his written pieces than on his show. He seems to have allowed that aspect more free rein in recent years, perhaps as his popularity fades. The comparison to Conan O'Brian is quite good; he can poke fun at Catholics without nastiness.

Rod Dreher

I like Garrison Keillor in general, and get really irritated by Catholics who scream "bigotry!" any time there's criticism or mockery of anything Catholic. But I must say that reading Keillor's book last year about being a Democrat was eye-opening. It was as vitriolic and nasty as anything on the Right, and that surprised me coming from a man of his temperament and stature. It was bilious.

Christine

"Lighten up everyone. Keillor makes fun of every religion (the most being his own, Lutheran)"

Actually, Keillor isn't Lutheran. He grew up in the Plymouth Brethren, a very strict sect that doesn't even have clergymen. I used to enjoy him but as of late I'm finding his humor wanting. It's starting to become Salon-esque.

I also find it most amusing that he would be so unenlightened about all the charitable works the Catholic Church does. Martin Marty, a prominent Lutheran, has remarked that Lutherans are good at works of mercy but Catholics far exceed them in works of justice.

Gretchen

Wow - I had no idea that my opposition to the redistribution of large sums of my money by the government (for wasteful, ineptly managed, dependency-creating and dignity destroying programs) made me a bad Christian! Thank you St. Garrison for enlightening me.

Christopher

'Based on the reception that Bishop Robison receives, I have the impression that gay bishops are a source of pride amongst Episcopalians.'

I'd say, as a convert from the ECUSA, that 'gay bishops' are a source of pride for roughly 35-50% of Episcopalians and a far lower number if you wanted to include all Anglicans around the world. Try not to paint with so broad a brush. Episcopalians need our prayers, not our snide remarks.

Nick Frankovich

A few years ago on his NPR show on December 8, Keillor did a riff, not disrespectful, about the virgin birth of Christ, clearly having made the common mistake about what the Immaculate Conception is.

Keillor captures as well as anyone the surface and the stereotype of the Catholic Church, the Church as seen from the outside and through the prism of, say, the front page of the New York Times (whose coverage of Church matters for generations now has been dominated by its obsession with contraception -- but I digress).

I often find Keillor's satire of things Catholic to be lighthearted enough. But from his relpy to the letter-writer accusing him of anti-Catholicism, you can see that in real life he really does believe the anti-Catholic cliches of the secular left (which are different from the anti-Catholic cliches of the religious right, but do you think they share common roots?).

Now and then the likes of the Nation or the New York Review of Books will find and then give ample space to a well-informed anti-Catholic -- Paul Blanshard from outside the Church, Garry Wills from inside. On the whole, though, what characterizes the anti-Catholicism of cultural elites is ignorance, and not just ignorance but blithe ignorance.

They don't know what they don't know, and the less they know the more they are inclined to hold forth and make sweeping and shallow generalizations. They have small ears, weak eyes, and big, strong mouths.

I have lived in the Church all my life and am still discovering, and expect to continue discovering for the rest of my life, spiritual riches I never knew about but that have been on display and available to everyone for centuries.

Ed

The irate Catholic, C. Fleischman, wrote in reference to JPII :

"No one in the history of the world has had his influence - and been as truly, personally loved and mourned as he was." Well, what about Jesus, Mohammed, and Newton ? While I'm glad that the irate Catholic is willing to stand up for the Church, I think that overblown and easily refuted statements such as that do a disservice. Any response should be more measured and have a proper regard for veracity.

And I agree with Flambeaux, who wrote about Keillor :

"I've never found him the least bit amusing, nor do I understand the appeal."

The very few times I did listen to Keillor's program I felt repulsed by the fraudulently folksy patter which just oozed smugness and smarm.

Jeff

I thought Keillor creamed the poor fellow, not because Keillor is right, but simply because the letter offered so much fodder for snarky one-line retorts that could deflect from the letter's intent, which was a good intent. The writer should have focused on a constructive case.

Was it really wise to make personal attacks on Keillor's intelligence in the letter? Keillor may have many character faults, but one thing he is not is stupid.

Dennis

"The very few times I did listen to Keillor's program I felt repulsed by the fraudulently folksy patter which just oozed smugness and smarm" - Amen to that!

I also just don't get why anyone thinks Keillor is the least bit interesting or funny (an odd sort of "humorist" who fails to elicit a single chuckle!).

He's a cheap Mark Twain wannabe.

David Kubiak

Actually it's been considerably less time than a century ago that the Pope was carried in the sedia gestatoria. The last time it was seen was at the Possessio of San Giovanni by John Paul I in 1979. It had been brought back by Paul VI at the end of his reign because his arthritis was so bad he had considerable trouble walking. I saw him carried in it in the mid 70's.

Brigid

As if Mark Twain was some sort of "fan" of religion? Keillor is classic American comedy albeit from the drole northern, midwest which many do not appreciate. There is an appopriate "bite" there esp. consider his background....

Thanks for the religious affiliation clarification, Christine. Yes - he is not Lutheran but Plymouth Brethren. Many in his state of MN are Lutheran thus the source of his humor. And many in MN are Catholic thus the source of more humor... Lots of humor for religion which is one of the reasons I am a consistent listener and reader.

Keillor leaves Jewish midwest humor to its master, Michael Feldman, the ultimate humorist at making fun of your faith... and jazz pianists.

Again, lighten up!

tdm

I live in Keillor's home state, and attended a performance of his show in 1999. It included a 15-20 minute celebration of the life of someone who fits Keillor's construct of a "good Catholic", the then-recently deceased Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, of Roe v. Wade fame.

Keillor is clever. But he is plagued by an aggrandized sense of his own self-importance. He also can be incredibly condescending to anyone who disagrees with his moral and political views, as his snarky reply to this letter-writer and the weekly column he writes for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune demonstrate. He also is stunningly unoriginal in his thinking, which merely reflects the cant and the attitudes of the segment of the boomer generation which never grew out of its adolescent fascination with itself. Nothing new there. Worse yet, as a writer and entertainer, his creativity gave out years ago. He has been recycling his stuff for years, and it grew stale long ago.

The bad news: It would never occur to Keillor that opposition to abortion is itself about social justice. The good news: He increasingly performs within an echo chamber of sorts, his books have a shelf live that can be measured in weeks, and his positions will quickly be forgotten once he is gone.

Jimmy Huck

I love Garrison Keillor, and not only because he is unabashedly liberal. I also like him because I find his kind of humor and storytelling to be quite wholesome compared to what passes for comedy in public fora these days.

Many of you have complained about how "uncharitable" Keillor seems in his reply to the letter write, but you are conveniently forgetting the vein-popping and rage-spitting venom in the letter to which he is replying. One cannot really blame Keillor for losing a bit of his cool or for being a bit snotty in his reply. In fact, given the tone of the letter he received, I thought Keillor did a very good job of holding back the reins.

Imagine how you would have responded (if you would have responded at all) had someone hurled this letter at you.

And get rid of the Catholic persecution complex. As a liberal Democrat and a dedicated practising Catholic, I have never, ever felt persecuted by my party or my ideological brethren.

anon

Christopher, I apologize - that wasn't my intent.

Radactrice

After listening to the exchange, I thought the "ickpods" was pretty darn funny.

midwestmom

Clever, funny, whatever. He's obviously anti-catholic! And I'll never pass up the opportunity to let it be known to anyone who thinks he's "all that and a bag of chips".

Tim Ferguson

Just out of curiosity Jimmy - are you personally opposed to legal abortion and do your liberal Democrat friends know your stance?

Based on my own personal experience, liberal Democrats tend to be "tolerant" and jovial, until someone mentions that he is opposed to that one lodestar in the liberal heavens. Then, the invective begins.

S.F.

Three things.

#1 I'm sick of the "Democrat = social justice." Look, most liberals and most conservatives actually believe that their preferred policies help the common America. Can we please stop pretending that Democrats care and Republicans don't? It simply isn't charitable.

#2. Keillor wrote, "And this is America, pal, where we make fun of just about anything. Norwegians, Germans, Anglos, Unitarians, liberals, Scientologists, Mormons, Buddhists, Episcopalians." Sure, in America, it's your right. But it's also a right to criticize you for it when you are being bigoted and unfair. Saying, "It's my right" is not a defense. Especially considering that is subsidized by the taxpayer. GK, be anti-Catholic on your own dime.

SiliconValleySteve

#1 I'm sick of the "Democrat = social justice."

This gets to something I've been wanting to express. I live in the bluest of blue areas and nothing surprises people who don't know me more than to call myself a religious conservative. They frequently want me to identify as a libertarian which is considered much more acceptable. Since libertarians are the ultimate "I've got mine" individualists, that would seem to contradict the interest in social solidarity that liberals profess. If liberals are so concerned with "social justice and responsibility," why would libertarians be more acceptable than conservative Christians who (myself included) can be supportive of some programs that support the less fortunate.

Jimmy Huck

Tim - To answer your question ... Yes, I am personally opposed to legal abortion. But I should add that I wouldn't support making abortion a capital offense and making it the equivalent of cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder. I don't know how we should penalize those who would be caught violating the law should abortion be made illegal. That said, to move on to your second question: most of my liberal friends ARE anti-abortion Catholics, though even those who aren't religious at all know that I am a practising Catholic who takes his Church's teachings seriously. I have always been treated with the utmost respect and civility, even by my liberal Democrat friends who are pro-choice. I just have never personally experienced any kind of discrimination (or worse, persecution) from my liberal friends because of my faith. And I think any here would be hard-pressed to provide concrete evidence of persecution because of their own faith. I believe that the idea of Religious persecution (of any Religion) in the United States is a myth.

I have always found that if I treat people nicely and in a Christian manner, my belief system and Catholic faith is never subject to derision. Generally, people I am nice to are usually nice back to me, whether or not they know what my faith is. Of course, I never cop a faith-based moral superiority with my liberal (or conservative) friends; whereas I suspect those who feel "persecuted" because of their faith are feeling this way because they don't like the dismissive reaction that their faith-on-the-sleeve may elicit from those who just don't share the same beliefs.

Liberal Democrats are by and large religious folk, and even Christian, at that; but, as one of them, I (and I think I can speak for a great majority of other liberal Democrats) tend to chaff at those who shove religion at others, without regard to whether it is welcome and without regard to the fact that such shoving is simply rude and usually inappropriate.

Frank Gibbons

Ever since I saw a clip of Keillor eulogizing Harry Backman, I've had my doubts about him. So when my kids gave us tickets to see Prarie Home Companion live at Tanglewood, I told myself to buck up and just enjoy the show. Sad to say, he had Calvin Trillin of the Nation as a special guest. After spewing the usual venom toward Bush and Cheney, Trillin did a take off of John Ashcroft speaking in tongues at Bob Jones university. Interspersed with the sounds representing glossolalia, Trillin put in words like "fag", "hebe" and other denigrating terms that, you know, John Ashcroft would just naturally use. My wife and I walked out. Garrison Keillor is, as another poster said, a mean and angry man. And politics aside, he is a man of very little talent.

Tim Ferguson

Jimmy,

Thanks for the response. I agree with you that there is no (or very little) religious persecution, properly so-called, in the US. I do, however, think that anti-Catholic bigotry is alive and well. Bigotry isn't out-and-out persecution, but any African-American raised in the last fifty years can attest to the fact that the absence of out-and-out persecution does not necessarily mean that all is well and happy.
Being looked at strange when one doesn't laugh at the latest incarnation of priest = pedophile joke, or the "witty jab" at "old men in dresses in the Vatican", being given the look when one states an opposing viewpoint to the "gay is good" mantra of proper society - it all adds up over time. There aren't any "Catholics need not apply" signs hanging up, but I've worked in restaurants where my insistence on either having Saturday evening or Sunday morning off so that I can attend Mass is an issue.

I agree with you as well that, when I treat people civilly, they are generally civil to me. Sometimes, though, the veneer of civility only faintly covers the substance of contempt that is incongruous for a group that hails tolerance as the supreme virtue.

Rod Dreher

And politics aside, he is a man of very little talent.

Boy, is that ever not true. His book "Lake Wobegon Days" is a witty and beautiful tribute to small town life. I've read it time and time again. I love "A Prairie Home Companion," and am glad there's some broadcast material we can partake of as a family in my house. It's great stuff, even if I don't care for Keillor's politics.

TSO

C. Fleischman's anger was probably what got him posted on the site, since anger sells and is interesting and it allowed Keillor to come off sounding like the voice of reason, comparatively-speaking. A win-win for Keillor. Like Dreher, I read his book about being a Democrat and it's full of anger -- so he's certainly competent to give advice to CJ, knowing of what he speaks.

Todd

Amusing Echo-Work from the conservative half of the Blogoverse. I've been an anti-abortion liberal for years before I stepped into e-space, and consistently since, yet it has never stopped anyone from heaping bile my way.

We get upset at people we don't like. Probably too often, we let it get to us. Then we make excuses or bring out the anti-Catholic or anti-conservative persecution shtick.

I listen to PHC far less than I used to, but perhaps its because I find Blogdom covers my need for humor. Brigid's advice is well taken, but people who steadfastly refuse to lighten up are clearly marked as frowny-faces who prefer to wail in the dark. So much like that classic Peanuts cartoon in which Linus quotes, "It is better to light one candle ..." and Lucy remains outside, fussbudget as ever: "You stupid darkness!"

Rich Leonardi

Liberal Democrats are by and large religious folk, and even Christian, at that ...

Slightly off topic, but statistics don't support that observation. From belief in God, to worship service attendance figures, self-identified "liberal Democrats" lag "conservative Republicans."

Tim Ferguson

"we...bring out the anti-conservative persecutions shtick"

we?

welcome to the dark side, Todd. I mean, since you're using the first person plural, that must mean that you do it too. You're switching sides is a welcome Christmas gift! I'm sure you'll find it pleasant over here. :)

Rich Leonardi

Amusing Echo-Work from the conservative half of the Blogoverse. I've been an anti-abortion liberal for years before I stepped into e-space, and consistently since, yet it has never stopped anyone from heaping bile my way.

People heap bile your way because you show nothing but contempt for anything that smacks of piety, reverence, or tradition.

That's the difference between "anti-abortion liberals" like yourself and, say, Peter Nixon.

adjuration

My family tunes in. I like when he refers to the Lake Wobegon Catholic Church, "Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility."

But he is an angry man. I knew he hated Republicans, but this is the first time I've seen him take shots at RCC core beliefs. He sounds like Garry Wills here...maybe he's something of an anti-"Faithful Catholic" bigot. He probably has no trouble with Catholics as long as they don't get carried away.

Christine

"Thanks for the religious affiliation clarification, Christine. Yes - he is not Lutheran but Plymouth Brethren."

Well ... to parse a bit further ... from what I understand these days he dabbles in the Episcopalian world (a bit to the left, I think). Don't think he does the Plymouth Brethren thing anymore.

Call it my multidenominational roots, I guess -- having been raised Lutheran I don't always appreciate some of Keillor's wit, and now being Catholic I don't really appreciate his smarminess on that count, either.

I read a remark by a Jewish commentator that he's always amazed by how lightly Christians take the name of God. Just count the number of times (and let me state right up front I'm guilty as charged and trying very hard to break the habit) in casual conversation or in the media we hear the expression "Oh my Gawddd!!!"
I don't much relish Keillor's remark that in America we make fun of everybody.

I don't consider religion something funny. It's actually something to stake one's life on.

Frank Gibbons

Rod Dreher,

There are plenty of novelists, poets, directors, musicians, actors, etc whose politics I loathe but whose work I admire. Garrison Keillor is not one of them.

Regards,

Frank Gibbons

Jimmy Huck

"Slightly off topic, but statistics don't support that observation. From belief in God, to worship service attendance figures, self-identified 'liberal Democrats' lag 'conservative Republicans.'"

With all due respect, Rich, my observation wasn't a comparison of the religiosity of "Liberal Democrats" versus "Conservative Republicans." If you want to play the "mine-is-bigger-than-yours" game to earn some cache on the "better-than-thou" meter, be my guest. That is not what I was doing, though. My comment was simply a statement that liberal Democrats are by-and-large (i.e. a majority of those who self-identify as liberal Democrats) religious folk. The vast majority of people in this country claim some religious affiliation -- the bulk of them being Christian. The percentage of people (whether liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans or unaffiliated Independents) who are atheists or agnostics is relatively small. And given the efforts conservative Republicans make to project an exclusive stranglehold on Christianity, it doesn't surprise me that there are more Conservatives who are Christian than there are Liberals who are Christian; but it's just plain wrong to think that liberal Democrats aren't mostly religious folk. Why, in my circles, Christian values propel us towards liberal politics and the Democratic Party. Your implication that liberalism is somehow antithetical to Christianity (and, yes, that is what your comment implies) is flat out wrong. And if I may be so bold, your comment smacks of that despicable conservative tendency these days towards proprietary and exclusionary ownership of Religiosity (and Christianity) that so frustrates Christians who happen to also be liberal Democrats BECAUSE we are Christians.

Robin

I'm no fan of Keillor, and I love my holy Catholic Church. That said, I get SOOOOO tired of Catholics claiming "discrimination" every time someone disses the Church.

It is not "bigotry" when one's dislike of Catholicism is based on a genuine difference of opinion. For example, if one is pro-abortion or pro-gay rights, one is necessarily not going to be fond of the Catholic Church. That does not make the person an "anti-Catholic bigot." It makes him a person who hates the Catholic Church because of a fundamental disagreement with what it stands for.

"Bigotry" and "discrimination" have an element of arbitrariness that is not present when the antipathy is based on beliefs that are fundamentally opposed to each other.

Our Lord warned us that people would "hate" us because of Him, not that we'd be "discriminated against."

Dan

Jimmy Huck & Todd: If I understand correctly what you have written, you are both pro-life liberal Democrats. As such, what have you done to end abortion other than vote for politicians who are devoted wholly to keeping abortion legal? Since 1980 or so without exception every Democratic politician of any consequence has been outspoken in his or her support of abortion and most have been in the pocket of Planned Parenthood. As is well known, pro-lifers were purged from the Democratic party long ago. To me being pro-life and a Democrat is a contradiction in terms.

Jimmy Huck

"People heap bile your way because you show nothing but contempt for anything that smacks of piety, reverence, or tradition."

Not true. Conservative people heap bile the way of Liberal people just because we are liberal, usually assuming the worst of us on all fronts. In any event, I would have thought that those who REALLY embraced "piety, reverence, or tradition" -- you know, the really holy people -- would be above "heaping bile" on anyone in the first place.

Rod Dreher

Good grief, can we just knock off the promiscuous use of the word "bigot"? It drives me crazy. Every time I say something critical on the DMN blog about a Muslim, a homosexual, or [insert interest group here], somebody's going to write in to call me a bigot. And if I criticize Catholics on Catholic issues, somebody else -- usually Jonathan Carpenter -- is going to write to call me a self-hating bigot. Calling anybody who criticizes your own ethnic or religious group, your gender, those who share your sexual preference, and so forth, a "bigot" is childish in so many cases, and resorting to that kind of language at the drop of a hat is a cheap rhetorical strategy intended to shut off debate (because if someone criticizes you out of bigotry, there is no way you can reason with them, so why try?).

Look, there is bigotry in the world, no doubt about it. There is anti-Catholic bigotry in the world. I think "bigot" and "bigotry" are great words, and I'd like to keep them in reserve to use when we encounter the real thing. Keillor is a comedian. Comedians make fun of everybody, usually by exaggerating some aspect of their personality. He might, in fact, be an anti-Catholic bigot. But making fun of Catholics and Catholicism is not prima facie evidence that he's a bigot, unless there is something excessive about his mocking, or there is other evidence that he is motivated by unreasoned hatred.

Jeez, people, lighten up, willya?

Jimmy Huck

Dan - I've said it before and I'll say it again, one doesn't vote only and exclusively on one particular issue. While I remain disappointed in the Democratic Party's platform position on abortion, I am led to the front lines of battle on other issues: global hunger, war, arms proliferation.

I tire of people who think that one cannot be a good Christian and yet still vote for a pro-choice Democrat. Conservatives vote for people who aren't aligned with the Church on many other important issues as well -- stem cell research, cloning, capital punishment, war, etc. Where's your outrage at that? Where's your question to fellow conservatives who vote for people in that way.

We can't all be the front line in the war on abortion, which would leave other important issues unattended. The balance of my calling falls out in other directions. I appreciate and support the folk who are on the front-lines working to end abortion; and I would think you would appreciate my contributions on the front lines towards ending capital punishment and global hunger. I vote accordingly.

chris K

"If you're outraged at a piece of comedy about the Pope"

Well, then, Garrison. It was just a piece of comedy. Whew! Thanks for admitting just a mere exchange of misinformation on your part instead of the thought out here that you wouldn't let the facts interfere with your ignorance about the teachings of the Catholic Church.

But I AM surprised in your response that you would equate a billion lost lives, intentionally, as your kind of social justice.... that would necessarily include the ruined lives of women in numbers not seen before. Suppose, as Mother Theresa reflects, a nation that kills its own is truly one without hope. You must REALLY be living in Lake Wobegone then and not the real world. So, now I understand. Your humor these days is much closer to Canadian than American homespun.

chris K

P.S. I've been wondering all these recent days just where Rod has been and just what subject of import would bring him back into the columns!

adjuration

Rod Dreher, lighten up. "Bigot" is not that nasty a word. It's useful for labeling a particular kind of ignorance. It seems to have loaded connotations for you, but that's not the fault of those of us who use it. Please don't remove yet another useful word from the bounds of polite conversation.

Radactrice

I agree with Rod. Lighten up! I read the transcript. I listened to the segment. Keillor wasn't being a bigot; he was being a comedian. Just because someone pokes fun doesn't automatically mean bigotry or anti-Catholicism. If I recall correctly, Dante, a good Catholic boy, put several Popes in hell and Michelangelo put at least a few Popes in hell his depiction of the last judgement. And the Canterbury Tales, which not only pokes, but jabs, predates Luther and the Reformation by about 100 years.
Save the outrage and the screams of bigotry for the real thing. Not a comedian who seems to be making more fun of the fact that the Pope is German than he is that the Pope is Catholic.

Radactrice

Bigot is just a useful label for ignorance? I disagree. A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from their own. They may not be ignorant at all.

Mark Shea

I agree with Rod. I think the ideologically-driven "and furthermore, he sucks as a writer and he's not funny!" stuff is silly. Obviously, it's de gustibus when it comes to matters of taste, but I think it's manifestly absurd to say that Keillor's political views and inflamed rhetoric when he is slaying his Republican dragons means that his art is worthless and he is unfunny. He's a fine writer. He's also very funny. And unlike many ideologues, he even has the retained enough of the Midwest in his bones to be able to say kind things of people he clearly despised. I continue to enjoy his show. It's a pity that a show that so much celebrates what conservatism used to be about (smallness, local communities, ordinary people) is now being place Beyond the Pale by a conservatism that is morphing into yet another ideology with its tribal affiliations and its lists of Things We Don't Associate With.

Dan

Jimmy, you mention four issues: stem cell research, cloning, capital punishment and "war." It makes no sense to include stem cell research and cloning in the list because those are part of the abortion issue. I and pro-lifers I know won't vote for someone who supports either stem cell research or cloning.

I am against capital punishment and I think the war in Iraq was a mistake but these issues simply are not deal breakers the way abortion is. A mistaken war is bad but it is not pure evil in the way that abortion is. Same goes for capital punishment. Someone can support capital punishment and the war in Iraq but not have a fundamentally corrupt world view. In my opinion the same cannot be said of someone who believes that it should be legal to kill innocent children in the womb. I don't think anyone who truly understands how evil abortion is could ever vote for such a person.

adjuration

Radactrice, save your outrage and screams against the word "bigot" for truly foul words.

A prejudiced person intolerant of any opinions differing from his own is ignorant of at least one very important thing.

Radactrice

Outrage and screams? No, just a desire for precision and the correct usage of words.

adjuration

Mark Shea, who said "Keillor's political views and inflamed rhetoric when he is slaying his Republican dragons means that his art is worthless and he is unfunny"?

Quit slaying straw men. Scanning the posts, I see lots of folks saying one or more of "I think he's funny and talented", "I don't think he's funny", "I don't like his politics", and even one or two "I like his politics" but no one saying that he's not funny BECAUSE of his politics.

In fact the more unreasoning line of thinking seems to be "I think he's funny so you can't call him a bigot."

scotch meg

Jimmy Huck,

Your last post is the most sensible thing I've seen you write. For me, there were two turning points with respect to the liberal / conservative divide: reading Stephen Carter's books, and constant questions from my many liberal friends. Stephen Carter, a Yale law professor, reminded me through his writing that there is, in fact, such a thing as a sincerely religious liberal (although I disagree with almost all of his views). My friends, through constantly asking me why I, the prolifer, didn't do more for the poor, the homeless, those on death row, etc., etc. They made me articulate the point you have just made about each person having a different calling. I cannot bring myself to vote for prochoice politicians, even when I like some of their other policies, because I feel the pain of abortion too deeply. But I do respect that you may sincerely emphasize other woes, and be called to work against them first. I am delighted to see you proclaim yourself as prolife (that wasn't my impression). If you haven't already, I would recommend Carter's older books to others of my (conservative) persuasion.

chris K

But, Mark, I think Amy directed us to the exchange which included Mr. Keillor's own way of responding to a complaint.... not just what was contained in the original humorous episode. So, off stage, I, at least, am referring to his holding banners of abortion, contraception and gay lifestyle up high and somehow opposing them (instead of including them) to what appears to be his personal formulation of just what constitutes social justice. In that, he exposed his own knee jerk response to someone differing from his personal social philosophy and going far beyond his quip that "hey, it's only humor". I mean, if, as an entertainer, you can't keep your responses as well, within the realm of humor, you ought not dish it out.

fbc

Rod Dreher - it is indeed good to see your comments again. Hope you keep making them (and if not here, then elsewhere. Have you ever considered blogging yourself?)

Could not agree with you more about Garrison Keillor -- I love him too, even though we couldn't be further apart politically. Several years ago I made the "mistake" of picking up Lake Woebegon Days, and I've been a fan ever since.

fbc

PS: I did think the criticism above of GK's inability to see abortion as a social justice issue was dead on, though.

reluctant penitent

Mark Shea says,

'a conservatism that is morphing into yet another ideology with its tribal affiliations and its lists of Things We Don't Associate With'

Garrison Keillor alleged that Norm Coleman was having an extramarital affair and gave credence to rumors that Norm Coleman might have been involved in causing Paul Wellstone's airplane to crash. He's a nasty loon. But that's not why I don't like the PHC. I don't like the PHC because the jokes are not funny and the music is silly. I have nothing against loony libs who really are talented--I love Larry David--but Keillor just happens not to be one of them. So now I have to like the work of any person whose politics I don't like just to prove that I'm not being tribal?

reluctant penitent

The non-tribal reluctant penitent loves Barbara Streisand and thinks that Rosie O'Donnell is hilarious. I laugh and laugh when she pretends to be in love with Tom Cruise.

TheLeague

I work with a bunch of middle-aging lefties. They are mostly nice people who can be self-absorbed, infantile at times. A few listen to GK, and just love him. Why, I don't know. He's not funny; he's not talented. But, then again, these are people who also like Firesign Theater. I phenom I simply do not understand. It's a matter of taste, and generational differences, I guess.

The question I have is this: Why am I still paying for Keillor's pompous, irrelevant schtick? Is there no for-profit media outfit willing to subsidize this over-educated, underwhelming man?

S.F.

Rod Dreher,

The best definition of bigotry is G.K. Chesterton's.

Bigotry is the incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.

Does Keillor show any evidence that he can seriously conceive that he may be wrong about Catholicism and political conservatives? Not that I've seen. Perhaps others know more about it.

Being that I'm not a bigot (I hope), I'll keep any open mind on the alternative to the propostion that Keillor is a bigot :)

Donna V.

I used to enjoy him but as of late I'm finding his humor wanting. It's starting to become Salon-esque.

I think that's true. I wouldn't mind so much if his political insights were at all original, but it's the same tiresome "Republicans = evil, Democrats = compassionate" that I can get from the editoral pages of the NYT or any number of other sources.

I think the charge of anti-Catholic bigotry is going a bit far, though. In "Lake Woebegon Days", if I remember correctly, GK wrote of sitting with the Plymouth Brethen in their barren meeting room and wishing he was Catholic. The chapter was side-splittingly funny to this cradle Catholic - GK dreamt of his family suddenly turning into Italian Catholics and hauling in oil paintings of nudes,statues of saints, vats of spaghetti and meatballs, and cases of red wine and "doing the Motorola." Instead, he was stuck with tuna casserole and Swedish meatballs and bookbags with Biblical verses imprinted on them.

It reminded me of Dunstan Ramsay, a character in Robertson Davies' great "The Deptford Trilogy," who, as a Scottish Presbyterian child in a small Canadian town, reads "The Lives of the Saints" in secret because he's so utterly fascinated by all this colorful, exotic Catholic stuff.

GK's political views bore me, and I'll agree that the small-town Midwesterner schtick has grown thin after more than 20 years, but I'll reserve the term "anti-Catholic bigot" for more serious offenders than GK.

And to whoever said religion isn't funny: oh, come now - have you read "The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living?" Or Frank O'Connor's wonderful story "My First Confession?" Like the Jews, Catholic "members of the tribe" can find plenty of humor in their religion - and perhaps are too quick to take offense when outsiders do.

S.F. (e.g. Things Mark Shea Doesn't Associate With)

As a preemptive strike, I'd like to point out that I'm a fan of Sinclair Lewis, a liberal with talent, who was probably also a bit on the bigoted side about religion. But at least he was smart. Read "Elmer Gantry." Some parts are unfair but amazingly insightful and funny.

Not really on topic, but if you were thinking of lumping me in as a conservative tribalist who dislikes all things liberal, please don't, thanks.

Rod Dreher

The question I have is this: Why am I still paying for Keillor's pompous, irrelevant schtick? Is there no for-profit media outfit willing to subsidize this over-educated, underwhelming man?

Funny, I've been thinking the same thing about Donald Rumsfeld. Bwahahahaha! Oh wait, I must be some kind of bigot.

What's funny, but not ha-ha funny, is how it's not enough for some of you to say you don't enjoy Keillor's humor, which is understandable, but you have to go on and talk about he's a bum who steals money from taxpayers, never was funny, and probably picks his nose when nobody's looking and wipes his boogers under the table.

Your tax dollars continue to pay for him, El Grumpo, because a majority of the elected representatives of the people think it's a good idea. What is ha-ha funny is how the harrumphy overreaction of some folks only underscores their essential humorlessness. And you only make Mark's point here: It's a pity that a show that so much celebrates what conservatism used to be about (smallness, local communities, ordinary people) is now being place Beyond the Pale by a conservatism that is morphing into yet another ideology with its tribal affiliations and its lists of Things We Don't Associate With.

reluctant penitent

'probably picks his nose when nobody's looking and wipes his boogers under the table'

Now THAT'S entertainment!

TheLeague

Rod, let me remind you: the Constitution only requires the federal government to defend us. There's NOTHING in the document that requires us to pay for bad comedians, and one that has that articulate pomposity that can be so tedious.

If you love to listen to him: fine. Then YOU pay for him. I have to pay for all my entertainment; why should I have to pay for yours, too?

amy

Todd:

Thanks for coming on and again insulting my work and my readers. Good to see you back.

TheLeague

No, wait. Let me correct my previous post. The Constitution does give Mr. Keillor an opportunity to make a living. Article 1 Section 8 paragraph 8 -- "by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries," ie. copyright.

Combined with the First Amendment, this is a very powerful engine for new ideas and a brilliant, dynamic marketplace for those ideas. It's what makes Intellectual Property the US' single largest export --by tens of billions of dollars. There are many people who make their living in this marketplace; however, most are not so lucky as to have a steady flow of federal grants to support their work.

Jonathan Carpenter

This is amazing! Here we spend all this time dilly dallying about wether Garrison Keillor is or is not an Anti-Catholic bigot, while we spend next to no time discussing the bigotry eminating from people like Arriana Huffington's blog. Wake up people the only ones who admit their bias against Catholics usually wear white sheets and hoods! They should have the right to air their views. We also should have the right to call people on their bigotry, without interference from self-hating CINO's who spend all their time beating the horse of church corruption or debating the "Artistic Merit" (Funny) of Brokeback Mountain.

reluctant penitent

Premature bigotry accusations always remind me of Seinfeld's uncle Leo.

Jimmy Huck

"If you love to listen to him: fine. Then YOU pay for him. I have to pay for all my entertainment; why should I have to pay for yours, too?"

Well, now that we've gone down this path, is it o.k. for me to request that my tax dollars be reallocated from making bombs that take the lives of foreigners to making levees in New Orleans that will save the lives of Americans?

Jimmy Huck

"Todd:

Thanks for coming on and again insulting my work and my readers. Good to see you back."

I think I am missing something here. Not to defend Todd for any insulting comments; but such a strong reply from Amy made me go back to try to find such offensive behavior by this "Todd" and I must confess that I didn't really spot any such insults, at least insults that were obvious to a reader unacquainted with the Todd/Amy history. Todd's comments certainly were cynical and critical, but no more insulting than any of the other typical sharp-witted critics and cynics who post here. A clarification would be appreciated.

Fr. Totton

Jimmy Huck, while I echo your admission that this is a bit off-topic, I would like to make a suggestion to your query: "I don't know how we should penalize those who would be caught violating the law should abortion be made illegal." A good start would be to have them suspended and revoke their license to practice medicine! Stiff fines and long prison sentences would not be out of line either!

As far as this discussion of G.K. Mark Shea is right about de gustibus! I always knew that he was a leftie, but I never would have detected the vitriol with which he responded to his listener (and no Jimmy Huck, I don't think the man was mean-spirited. Frustrated? yes, but not mean-spirited) - I am naive and uninitiated when it comes to "Minnesota Nice". That said, I used to like Michael Moore - another admitted leftie, I enjoyed Roger and Me for its comic value, but as he become more vocally abusive and more pompous in the public arena, he destroyed any appeal he had before - the same thing could well happen to this "mild-mannered" man from Minnesota!

TheLeague

Jimmy, you said: "..is it o.k. for me to request that my tax dollars be reallocated from making bombs that take the lives of foreigners to making levees in New Orleans that will save the lives of Americans?"

Of course it's okay for you to request that if you'd like. You can also write in Carter-Mondale as your chosen presidential candidate in the '08 election. You can even write-in Garrison Keillor. Feel free!

Me? I'll be voting for the Mormon with the strong, manly chin.

Mike Petrik

Jimmy,
National defense is a public good, notwithstanding the fact that we can always appropriately debate the whys and wherefores. Entertainment is not. Period.

Marty Helgesen

I don't think the joke, "why can't Episcopalians play chess? Because they can't tell a bishop from a queen", had anything to do with homosexual bishops. When I first read it I took it as a reference to Her Majesty, the Queen, who is the head of the Church of England.

S.F. (e.g. Things Mark Shea Doesn't Associate With)

Rod Dreher writes, "Your tax dollars continue to pay for him, El Grumpo, because a majority of the elected representatives of the people think it's a good idea."

I hope no one thinks I'm grumpy about this issue. I really don't spend much time thinking about Keillor. If it makes you happy to take me money to subsidize Garrison Keillor, well gosh darn, that's great. (Of course, the Constitution does call for Cabinet posts, etc. so the comparison really isn't apt- maybe corporate welfare would have been a better one - but you probably couldn't find too many defenders of that round here. - well, Mark would say we defend corporate welfare but we'd say we don't, and he'd say that just proves that we do- oh, that was a bad idea to even start on that topic, I see).

And repeat, when I say someone is a bigot, I'm using Chesterton's definition of "Bigotry is the incapacity to conceive seriously of the alternative to a proposition." Nothing more. If Keillor doesn't fit that, please inform. If the only facts you have in that regard is calling me and others "El Grumpo" (is that funny? I seriously don't know, I'm "humorless" :)), I'll just stick with the position I have, thanks.

Phil

Keillor is very funny, as well as a talented writer, and a great story teller (here I'm talking about his speaking voice.) We cannot deny that simply because we don't like what he says or thinks about this or that. Mark Twain was great writer--the fact that he was hostile to religion does not negate that. Dostoyevsky was a genius of a writer with a profound insight into the human soul--yet he also had deep flaws and bigoted opinions. It would be silly for us not to enjoy Keillor's work, just as it would be silly for us not to read Twain and Dostoyevsky.

TheLeague

All this talk of Garrison Keillor has made me think back to the first time I read about "Lake Wobegon." As a child I lived down the street from my best friend, "C." Now, C's father hated my parents, because they were (1) Catholic, (2) blue collar, and (3) Italian-Americans. My parents didn't go to college. My father was a NYC cop. This wasn't good enough for C's father, but her he tolerated my presence. I can remember picking up "Tales from Lake Wobegon" from C's kitchen table one day and asking her what the story was about. She didn't know, but her father went on and on about it.

Now, I grew up in an ethnic, blue-collar NY family. My parents listened to crooners like Vic Damone and Frank Sinatra, and their idea of comedy was, er, bawdy. I can remember there being comedy albums in the collection that were wrapped in brown paper. I wasn't even permitted to handle them. My mother would yell at me whenever I went to that side of the record cabinet.

Years later, when I was an adult, I found the old albums in the basement, and finally took a peek inside the brown paper sleeves. They were these dirty stand-up comedy routines by Jewish women comedians, and other, more famous, names like Buddy Hackett and Lenny Bruce. It was a starkly different idea of funny from what C's dad used to read.

Let's face it, not everyone grew up with a "Minnesota Nice" sensibility. "Lake Wobegon" sounded affected and dull to me when I was 11. It still does at 35.

There are other ideas of funny, folks.

reluctant penitent

'It would be silly for us not to enjoy Keillor's work, just as it would be silly for us not to read Twain and Dostoyevsky.'

Don't forget Rosie and Babs.

Donald R. McClarey

"Norm got a free ride from the press. St. Paul is a small town and anybody who hangs around the St. Paul Grill knows about Norm's habits. Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting, but nobody bothered to ask about it, least of all the religious people in the Republican Party. They made their peace with hypocrisy long ago. So this false knight made his way as an all-purpose feel-good candidate, standing for vaguely Republican values, supporting the president.

He was 9 points down to Wellstone when the senator's plane went down. But the tide was swinging toward the president in those last 10 days. And Norm rode the tide. Mondale took a little while to get a campaign going. And Norm finessed Wellstone's death beautifully. The Democrats stood up in raw grief and yelled and shook their fists and offended people. Norm played his violin. He sorrowed well in public, he was expertly nuanced. The mostly negative campaign he ran against Wellstone was forgotten immediately. He backpedalled in the one debate, cruised home a victor. It was a dreadful low moment for the Minnesota voters. To choose Coleman over Walter Mondale is one of those dumb low-rent mistakes, like going to a great steakhouse and ordering the tuna sandwich. But I don't envy someone who's sold his soul. He's condemned to a life of small arrangements. There will be no passion, no joy, no heroism, for him. He is a hollow man. The next six years are not going to be kind to Norm."

Part of Keillor's column rant after Norm Coleman beat Walter Mondale in 2002. Can't you feel the love? What really riled Keillor is that Coleman is an apostate from the True Faith, liberal Democrat, and that he could defeat Mondale in Minnesota! Poor Keillor! If only all the American people were as sensitive, intelligent and caring as he!

S.F. (e.g. Things Mark Shea Doesn't Associate With)

Donald, er, I mean El Grumpo,

Don't you think the taxpayers should have subsidized that column?

Donna V.

Donald, that's pretty ugly stuff, particularly the nasty innundoes about Coleman's family.

TheLeague wrote:

Now, I grew up in an ethnic, blue-collar NY family. My parents listened to crooners like Vic Damone and Frank Sinatra, and their idea of comedy was, er, bawdy.

Well, Keillor did long to be an Italian Catholic when he was a kid. :-)

Personally, my idea of a funny Minnesota writer is the unfortunately far less well known James Lileks. Yes, his politics are more in line with my own, but you don't have to be conservative to find "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" extremely entertaining.

Donna V.

Also, Lileks cemented his place in my affections when he defended Benedict XVI and wrote scathingly about a blasphemous depiction of the Virgin he spotted on a book cover in Borders. And Lileks isn't even Catholic.

Here's his web site. If you're not interested in his political views, I suggest checking out "The Institute of Offical Cheer" and "Flotsam." He's the only writer I can think of who can make old hotel postcards, matchbook covers, and foreign currency entertaining:

http://lileks.com/index.html

Donald R. McClarey

Lest it be thought that the earlier piece I posted was written by Keillor in white heat immediately following the election and that he cooled down later, here are selections from column written on 11/22/02, almost two weeks later.


"I've run into plenty of Coleman supporters since the election and they see me and smirk and turn away and that's par for the course. I know those people. To my own shame, I know them. I'm ashamed of Minnesota for electing this cheap fraud, and I'm ashamed of myself for sitting on my hands, tending to my hoop-stitching, confident that Wellstone would win and that Coleman would wind up with an undersecretaryship in the Commerce Department. Instead, he will sit in the highest council in the land, and move in powerful circles, and enjoy the perks of his office, which includes all the sycophancy and bootlicking a person could ever hope for. So he can do with one old St. Paulite standing up and saying, "Shame. Repent. The End is Near.""

"All you had to do was look at Coleman's face, that weird smile, the pleading eyes, the anger in the forehead. Or see how poorly his L.A. wife played the part of Mrs. Coleman, posing for pictures with him, standing apart, stiff, angry. Or listen to his artful dodging on the stump, his mastery of that old Republican dance, of employing some Everyguy gestures in the drive to make the world safe for the privileged. What a contrivance this guy is."

As Donna observed, Mr. Nice Midwest Guy has a penchant for the family attack as demonstrated above, and when it comes to politics he seems to prefer the personal attack, both against Republican candidates and Republican voters. At the end of the column he enlists God in his crusade against Coleman.

"Paul walked the walk. He was a wonder. Everyone who ever met him knew that he lived a whole life and that he and Sheila were crazy about each other. To be in love with one person for 38 years is nothing you can fake: Even the casual passerby can see it. To die at 58, having lived so well and so truthfully, is enviable, compared to the longevity of a man who invents his own life in order to achieve the desired effect and advance himself. To gain the whole world and lose your own soul is not a course that Scripture recommends. You can do it so long as God doesn't notice, but God has a way of returning and straightening these things out. Sinner beware."

Rod Dreher

Look, I don't think Keillor hates Catholics, but if he does, I can't help it, he's funny. My late uncle in Louisiana had unkind things to say about black people, but God help him, he was one of the funniest men I've ever known. Richard Pryor was a cokehead who held God knows what opinions, but he made me laugh so hard diet Coke came out my nose. That's how life is. I prefer to be on the side of the messed-up and maybe mistaken but deeply humane Garrison Keillor and Uncle Murphy than the wrapped-too-tights who can't forgive a man his relatively minor weaknesses, especially when he has compensating virtues. Leave Keillor alone, I say. He makes me happy, and he's a good sort, all things considered.

Radactrice

A good start would be to have them suspended and revoke their license to practice medicine! Stiff fines and long prison sentences would not be out of line either!

What about the women who have abortions? They don't have medical licenses to revoke, but they would be breaking the law too. Are you suggesting that we fine and imprison women who have abortions?

sj

What's the evidence that the taxpayer is subsidizing PHC? I seriously doubt production costs aren't covered by the revenues earned by the program. More likely, PHC revenues are helping subsidize other Minnesota Public Radio programming, thus lessening the taxpayer subsidy for that programming.

Mitchell Hadley

Donna V.'s absolutely right - Lileks is my idea of a funny Minnesotan.

The problem with "Minnesota Nice" (and this comes from my wife, who is a native Mainer and has had ample opportunity over the last 13 years to observe the behavior of us Minnesotans) is that it's really a form of passive-aggressiveness. And us Minnesotans aren't really all that nice, truth be told - I've heard from several transplants that we can be cool and aloof, unwelcoming to newcombers, and very insular. We also have something of an inferiority complex (hence our constant obsession with being "world-class"),and tend to be fairly parochial. And keep in mind as I make these comments that I'm proud to be a native Minnesotan!

But Keilor has been a lightning rod for controversy for many years here. It was obvious to us far earlier than the rest of the nation that Keilor was a partisan lefty. His clashes with the local media (especially the equally odious Nick Coleman, then of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) during the original run of PHC were legendary. A lot of his behavior, both in public and private, would lead one to think that he is not a very nice man. Thus, you can't really be surprised at the absolute venom and hatred contained in some of his public comments - his so-called "comedy."

And yet maybe we should lighten up a bit. Why? Because people like Keilor aren't usually worth wasting oxygen over. As Malcom Muggeridge once suggested of Monty Python, to take his comments seriously imply that we should take him seriously, and I can't think of anything that should be further from the truth.

adjuration

Rod Dreher writes

"I prefer to be on the side of the messed-up and maybe mistaken but deeply humane Garrison Keillor...Leave Keillor alone, I say. He makes me happy, and he's a good sort, all things considered."

Is he a good sort? Is he deeply humane? I know he plays such a character on the radio, but, you know, he is an actor after all. What do his ex-wives think of him?

Or does he get a pass on any real examination of his beliefs because he makes Rod happy? Is this a new definition of virtue?

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