Should a man’s name be erased from the face of the earth? That’s a rhetorical question that came to mind when I read Paul Mirengoff’s post in Powerline, based on a story in the San Jose Mercury News, that Minnesota Public Radio has removed all of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and “The Writer’s Almanac” broadcasts from its website. Forty years of work, vanished!
As the Mercury News’s David Vossbrink writes, “This evokes [George] Orwell’s 1984 and the Memory Hole where unwanted or inconvenient history, documents and stories are regularly incinerated.”
The indefatigable Rod Dreher chimes in at The American Conservative. “If you only chose to partake of art, music, and literature created by morally upstanding persons, you’d quickly come to the end of what’s available. Museums would empty out. Concert halls would fall silent. Bookstores would have to be repurposed as yoga studios, and movie theaters as hipster churches. The unfortunate truth is that bad, or at least deeply flawed, people often make the best art.” Quite so. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a criminal, quite possibly a murderer, yet he created great art. If one of his few dozen extant paintings came on the market, it would fetch tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars, and rightly so.
Garrison Keillor is not a Caravaggio, and I don’t share Dreher’s fondness for his work, but he is not alone in enjoying it.
Apparently Minnesota Public Radio has revised its website since Vossbrink reported he could find no mention of Keillor on it. Here is what I found on their website today:
"A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer's Almanac
"Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) recently terminated its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies. (MPR cannot discuss specific details. Here is the full statement.)
"MPR does not fully own the rights to continue to use the names or provide archive content for 'A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor' and 'The Writer’s Almanac' programs. Garrison Keillor and his companies own many of the rights to this artistic content."
That’s better than complete erasure, but I wonder why they couldn’t provide a link to Keillor’s work as well.