There was a dark truth in Garrison Keillor’s kidding all along. Like Louis C.K. before him, who actually did the lewd things he joked about on stage, Keillor quipped about the merits of a little sexual harassment.
A year before Monica Lewinsky got her internship and sexual harassment in politics was mostly a norm and not really a story, Keillor warned Beltway reporters not to make the world too perfect. A little sexual harassment, the Prairie Home Companion humorist told a crowd at the National Press Club, was necessary.
“We should be careful, though, not to make the world so fine and good that you and I can't enjoy living in it,” said Keillor. “A world in which there is no sexual harassment at all is a world in which there will not be any flirtation.”
"A world in which there is no sexual harassment at all is a world in which there will not be any flirtation" — radio humorist Garrison Keillor at @PressClubDC April 7, 1994... at 31:05 in this video: https://t.co/9ChxtCdZqD pic.twitter.com/nTtJXar3nK— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) November 29, 2017
Twenty-three years and as many sexual assault scandals later, it’s become apparent that Keillor lived up to his jokes. After launching a special investigation, hiring an outside lawyer to lead a separate investigation, and even setting up an anonymous tip-line, Minnesota Public Radio fired Keillor because of accusations “of inappropriate behavior with someone he worked with.”
For his part, Garrison told the AP that there is another version of the story one that “I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”
Maybe that’s true. But for a public radio station to pull the plug on a cash cow like Keillor, it would seem that the allegations must be damning. And it’s increasingly becoming harder to believe comics like Keillor when their onstage material seems to amplify their offstage actions.
It seems that the man from Lake Wobegon did his part to keep the world from becoming too perfect so that he could keep enjoying it.