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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tuesday linkdump

I didn't call this a "deadline" linkdump, because I don't have any deadlines for tomorrow's Seven Days — nope, I didn't write a thing this week. Too busy mucking about online. But you don't need a deadline to have a linkdump, that's what I always say.

This week on Vermont blogs:

Google • Vermont curling afficianado Dan York is also an uber-techie in his other life. This week he's in Cairo for a conference. In a post yesterday to his blog Disruptive Conversations, he writes about how weird it is to see Google's homepage in Arabic at his Cairo hotel (the screenshot at right is from his blog).

• Yankunian is back at the Vermizzle, writing about the potential flooding in Montpelier.

• Lots of Iraq war anniversary posts yesterday. Katharine at Cut to the Chase reprints Dick Cheney's comments from February 7, 2003: "This war could last six days, maybe six weeks, but I certainly doubt it can last six months."  

Outrageouschaos explains what kind of college friend New York City would be, and defines the mysterious BritBritBrit contest.

• E to the M at Say What? calls good old Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame a hypocrite, a homophobe and a bigot — and she's not the only one. I'm glad a Vermonter blogged about Keillor's recent controversial column, so I could point it out here. Dan Savage, editor of the Stranger, posted a similar critique of Keillor's column on the Stranger's blog, Slog, coincidentally also called Fuck Garrison Keillor. Savage posted and dissected Keillor's apology yesterday.

• More comments from State Senator Bill Doyle's Town Meeting Survey. Sample comments:

“I believe that in order to be able to afford to live here, a single person must have two jobs, because unless you are a professional or have a college degree, jobs in this area pay terribly.” – Barre

“I have two jobs and still find it very hard to pay bills.” – Barre City


March 20, 2007 at 08:29 AM in VT Blogs | Permalink


The problem with Garrison Keillor is that he generally doesn't make a "point." He usually just talks, and talks, and talks. When he's done talking you think, "What just hit me?" And even if you read the transcript you won't figure it out. That's how his article seems.

Is he anti-gay? Is he just making a wry little joke? We'll never know. He certainly touched on some sensitive issues, but we'll never know what the heck he intended to say about these issues. It certainly seemed like he was taking some shots at the gay community, but in the cloud that is his writing it's impossible to see it clearly.

Posted by: Ed C | Mar 20, 2007 9:56:14 AM

There's lumber at Home Depot more exciting than Garrison Keillor, and his whole Prairie Home Companion schtick is cultural fingernails-on-a-chalkboard to me.

Still, I think if a 2x4 fell on your head in the framing aisle in Williston, even it would be smart enough to say "Sorry," without any qualifications, obfuscations or shifting of blame. [The shiny copper pipe in Aisle 7 distracted me?] Keillor's implication that his subtle humor was misunderstood just doesn't cut it. How about: "What a stupid thing to say! I'm apologize for saying it. I was wrong!"

The Lame Non-Apology Apology is reaching its apogee in 2007. "Mistakes were made" is just a toddler in a suit saying "Mommy, Mommy, not my fault!" and fingering his little brother for his own crime.

It's only March. How many American celebrities and politicians will induct themselves into the "I'm-Not-Really-Sorry Hall of Shame" by year's end?

Posted by: Lisa Crean | Mar 20, 2007 11:17:15 AM

I actually find GK charming most of the time, but Lisa hit the Home Depot-purchased nail on the head. It sounds like he genuinely doesn't see how his remarks were thoughtless. Too bad. It's been pretty clearly and succinctly explained in several places I've seen. It's hard, once you've made a public stand about something, to admit you were wrong-headed about it. Still, it would have been nice to see.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Mar 20, 2007 11:35:15 AM

Yeah, I'm generally a Keillor fan, but his column pissed me off.

And I've told Dan Savage to his face that he basically bugs me, but I'm with him here.

Posted by: cresmer | Mar 20, 2007 12:09:37 PM

I'm glad to read about the Keillor story here. I was unaware of it before I read this post, and the above comments. And all of the criticism made complete sense to me (and surprised me because I listen to Keillor on the radio a lot. He has said a lot of very gay friendly things in the past)

Then I read what he wrote, and read his explanation of what he wrote.

"I live in a small world—the world of entertainment, musicians, writers—in which gayness is as common as having brown eyes ... 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 ... "

Isn't he right? Isn’t this how we speak in our small world where the gay community is our community?

In the larger world, where we are under siege from the anti-gay forces, Keillor's words do sound harsh and unfriendly ... but he's just talking how we talk.

We joke with each other. We laugh together. We laugh at ourselves. And in so doing, we celebrate our lives.

Posted by: Name withheld | Mar 20, 2007 12:46:48 PM

Hi Nw--
Dan Savage brings up some of the same issues that I have with Keillor's apology. Here's one passage from Savage's post, where he quotes Keillor:

Writes Dan:

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.

Savage also points out that other prominent gay bloggers failed to get the joke, including Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic Monthly.

Posted by: cresmer | Mar 20, 2007 1:07:14 PM

I read Savage's piece. I agreed with some of it. Keillor used some loaded language. He used some creepy language. He shouldn't have.

My problem with Savage's piece is that it's a very ... well ... savage attack on a guy who is generally friendly to gay people and the cause of civil rights.

Savage's critique was unrelenting, overly angry and fails to attempt to understand Keillor's perspective – fails to address Keillor as a man who has a history of being very gay friendly.

Sometimes well-intentioned people express themselves poorly. Reacting with this degree of anger pushes our allies away.

Posted by: Name withheld | Mar 20, 2007 1:52:43 PM

"Sometimes well-intentioned people express themselves poorly." This is the classic justification--and way of letting people slide--for racism borne of ignorance rather than malice. "Oops, I must have tripped--I don't know how that white hood with eyeholes fell over my head!"

Sometimes getting on the high horse of hyperbole and letting your rage ride is the right thing to do. Civilized debate only gets you so far. I'm not very blogosphere-savvy, and so I'm unfamiliar with Mr. Savage's regular writing style. But would library-level whispering let Mr. Keillor know how Jurassic and wrong-headed his "arguments" are, especially at this judicially and legislatively sensitive time in the gay parenting debate?

I think many American people are finally moving towards realizing the complete unreality of the 1950's, Happy Mom + Happy Dad, Married 4-Ever picture of parenting perfection. Gee, could the 50% divorce rate be one clue? How about the hundreds of thousands of children languishing in foster care? Ever watch Supernanny, for chrissakes? Parenting skills in most heterosexual 2-parent families need work in this country, largely because of this over-indulgent style Keillor is idealizing of the "children taking center stage." Ever heard of boundaries, limits, rules, Garrison? Maybe Keillor's loose lips and inability to apologize properly stem from Bad Parenting! Give him a belated Time Out!

I'm sickened by the litany of recent court decisions Cathy cites. One good parent--gay or straight--is more than many American children are blessed with. Adoption agencies should be actively seeking gay couples. People who may have struggled with alienation, family acceptance, societal prejudice--who is BETTER equipped to understand the challenges a child is going to face?

Good for Savage for savaging Keillor. Time to call ALL the non-apologizers to account for their feeble Mea Non-Culpae.

Posted by: Lisa Crean | Mar 20, 2007 2:37:24 PM

"Oops, I must have tripped--I don't know how that white hood with eyeholes fell over my head!"

Comparing Garrison Keillor to a Klansman???? Yikes.

"Sometimes getting on the high horse of hyperbole and letting your rage ride is the right thing to do."

Yes. Sometimes. But not all the time.

Posted by: Name withheld | Mar 20, 2007 3:22:35 PM

I won't vote for Garrison unless he demands for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and healthcare for all Americans

Posted by: g-lo | Mar 20, 2007 4:03:04 PM

Aw come on guys...

Keillor said he was sorry if you weren't smart enough to understand him.

And he also said some of his best friends are gay!

Doesn't that cover it? What more do you want?

(Full disclosure...the guy really bugs me. I wrote a punkesque song called "Garrison Keillor Must Die" years ago in a fit of punk pique)

Posted by: odum | Mar 20, 2007 4:38:35 PM

Have any of you ever actually listened to GK's show? Do the Lutherans get upset when he makes fun of their behaviour/existence? Or any one else? He goes to the extremes of society and makes an observation. And usually it's funny. If not, you say "Oh well," and wait for the next joke. Is he a politician? A judge? Someone else who has power over the way your live your life? No. He's an entertainer. If you don't like what he says, watch/listen to/ read something else.

Posted by: Bob Bolyard | Mar 20, 2007 5:13:22 PM

To "Name Withheld"--

I wasn't comparing Keillor to a Klansman; I was getting on my high horse of hyperbole to underscore critical point. I was comparing what Keillor seems to be writing off as an "accidental" expression of homophobia to what people sometimes call "benign" racism. Watermelon jokes, etc.--This kind of stuff has happened to me, right here in VT. Because I'm white, people don't necessarily think I'll take offense.

Guess what, folks. We'll never drive a stake in the heart of racism or homophobia until we root it out in all its forms: active, virulent, aggressive, as well as passive, silent, dormant. The assumptions we don't question are in some ways the most dangerous ones. Keillor was spinning some of his lazy, faux-nostalgia that passes for entertainment--only this time he threaded it with some "jokes" that revealed what he truly thinks.

Odum: As for Keillor's "some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay" defense, PLEASE! Again, it sounds suspiciously like the "but-I-call-my-black-friends-that" defense when some white idiot gets caught using the N-word. Some of MY best friends are gay. We may say inappropriate things to each other in private--but we tease and act silly because we've known each other since we were kids. But if I wrote something like Keillor did for publication, I would expect them to get on their high horses and hunt me down.

Posted by: Lisa Crean | Mar 20, 2007 5:56:43 PM

Cut to the Chase reprints Dick Cheney's comments from February 7

"The Daily Show" reminds us of Donald Rumsfeld, then the Defense Secretary, and his comments on February 7, 2003,

"After that, we have a responsibility as a country that if force were to be used and if the United States did have to go in with its coalition partners. and there are a growing number of nations that would be participating in a coalition of the willing, we feel an obligation to see that what is left after that regime is gone becomes a state that does not have weapons of mass destruction -- and that would be part of our responsibility, that it would be a state that would not threaten its neighbors and launch Scuds into it or use chemical weapons on their own people or their neighbors, as they have in the past, that it would be a single country and not broken into pieces, and that it would be a country that would be setting itself on a path to assure representation and respect for the various ethnic minorities in that country." transcript

We're still struggling with the After That.

Posted by: anon | Mar 24, 2007 8:45:45 AM

Don't know about you, but I find it difficult to take seriously *anyone* who argues savagely about GLBT stereotypes while at the same time perpetuating them by leading every paragraph with, "Oh. My. God."

In the end, part of being an accepted "equal" in everyday society is learning to be the butt of mainstream humor -- even if the humor is a little wry, or a little intellectual... or even a little weak.

As to hypocrisy and its ilk, Mr. Keiller is surely intimately familiar with the facts of his own, many marriages, and to *this* reader, anyway, appears to be poking as much fun at himself as anyone else. That's long been the nature of his humor... droll, frequently self-effacing, and unusually gentle in this frequently brutal -- even savage -- world.

Posted by: deCadmus | Mar 26, 2007 6:08:38 PM

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