Monday, March 19, 2007

Further Thoughts on the Keillor Fracas

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.
Somehow, only because this comes from Garrison Keillor and not, say, Rush Limbaugh, we're supposed to understand that it's not to be taken seriously. It's satire, we're told. Tongue in cheek. It's a shame we lack the wit to understand the subtlety of the humor.

Balls. Satire only works if you use it against someone more powerful than yourself. Otherwise, it's not satire, it's bullying. (It also helps if it's actually funny, but never mind.)

Keillor also wrote this a couple of years ago:
I favor marriage between people whose body parts are not similar. I’m sorry, but same-sex marriage seems timid, an attempt to save on wardrobe and accessories. Marrying somebody from your team.
Could he trivialize the issue any more? He sounds like some racist hunchbrain wondering why the darkies want equal rights when they can already have all the watermelon they want. Good lord, what a travesty.

Let me just be absolutely clear here. I believe this: Either you are ok with the idea of gay marriage, or, because you believe that there are rights that straights have that gays should not have, you are a bigot. The only reason for denying marriage to gay couples is homophobia.

There is no middle ground that I can see. And don't give me that sanctity of marriage crap, either, unless you're prepared to try to convince me that "sanctity" really means "for heteros only."

I am seriously disappointed in Garrison Keillor. I mean, sure, as a satirist he's long since faded into irrelevance, and he's been repeating himself for years. But I always thought that under the sentimentality and irritatingly inoffensive NPR crosswordpuzzly humor, he was on our side. Sometimes (rarely) he would reveal a seeming subversive streak. During the 90s he did stuff about the newly emerging angry rich white male wing of the Republican party that was absolutely wicked. I don't know what happened since then. Maybe he always was a doddering out-of-touch naif, and I've just now grown up enough to see it. I suppose I'll get used to it.


T said...

Hear, hear!

And for the record, although J and I are mostly the same size, we don't really share clothes. I don't think she'd have any use for my chartreuse fuzzy sweater anyway.

Another aspect of this whole thing is that it seems GK's primary complaint with gay marriage (aside from the part about wanting to make sure parents are unfulfilled wallpaper) is that it's an awful inconvenience. But what I don't get is--why should gay families be accused of bringing yet more hyphens into a family? JFC.

T said... inconvenience for *him*, I mean. And of course, his convenience is all that matters, never mind little issues like visitation rights for hospitalized partners, tax law, adoption, and so on.

Mike said...

It's at least as sad as it is infuriating, for all the reasons you mention, but I'd put him in the same column as my limbaughian great-aunt and great-uncle: bats, yes, but whose minds are they going to change? I don't lose much sleep over them. I lose sleep over the anonymous guys who bother to e-mail me about how I've doomed my own daughters to all manner of failure by letting (letting) them have two mommies. Not Garrison Keillor.

Perhaps more to the point: My bride (who is female) and I (who am not) are even prouder and even more delighted now to have you solemnizing our union in light of this, your first non-culinary sermon.

Rob said...

:-) You do me great honor.

I realize in the greater scheme of things this is a tempest in a teapot. I'm just pissed off about it, that's all. Clearly he's not going to change anyone's mind, but it's such a shame to see someone with a rep like his turning to fag jokes.

How do you pronounce "limbaughian?"

Rob said...

Oh, and re the parents-as-unfulfilled-wallpaper thing: any psychologist will tell you that kids thrive when they see their parents being fulfilled and happy and not sacrificing everything for their children. Otherwise they grow up to be the kind of unhappy pent-up emotionally stunted adults that populate Lake Wobegon.

T said...

Yeah. I guess another possibility for GK's cluelessness is that anyone not "normal" probably flees Lake W as fast as their chartreuse-clad legs can take them ;-)

Rob said...

GK himself sure did. And that's another thing. The guy lives in New York, for heaven's sake. He must work really hard to keep his cluelessness up.

An Briosca Mor said...

Well, as I mentioned in a comment on Tes's blog, Keillor's own personal history includes three wives, kids with two of them (with about 25 years in age difference between them), and at least two long-term committed relationships ruined by adultery on his part. So there's plenty of hyphenating and non-traditional parenting going on in his own family (even though none of it - that we know of, anyway - is non-heterosexual). Yet he keeps this all a secret - very few of his listeners or readers are aware of it. So for him to come down on hyphenators and non-traditional familiars either seriously or with comic intent from his own closeted position just makes him a hypocrite of Limbaughian proportion. And besides, the sharing clothes and playing on the same team joke was already done on Seinfeld. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

As for the whole gay marriage thing, it seems to me that the only logical solution would be to completely separate the notion of church marriage from civil marriage. Hell, give the churches the exclusive use of the term "marriage" if they want, and call it a civil union even when two heteros go down to the courthouse to link up. Give the civil benefits (visitation, tax, etc) to those who engage in civil unions, and the spiritual benefits (such as they are) to those engaging in church marriage. Let anyone entering into a church marriage automatically get civil union status with no additional hassle. In effect, this is the way it is now for hetero couples, but for those who believe in marriage as a sacrament the fact that heteros can get married even if they reject God, and get divorced, ought to be as big a burr up their butts as gays marrying is, because it too is "counter to God's law". Yet strangely they never complain about that, do they?

hp said...

Yesterday I got on some tangent (I'd dreamed about a place in Georgia I'd never heard of if you must know) that led me to read about Leo Frank and Mary Phagin. Everyone else but me probably knows all about this. But anyway, my point...some of the things about the trial seem ludicrous and ridiculous to the point of being humor, albeit dark, until the sickening thump of realization: a girl was killed. a likely innocent man was lynched. the ku klux clan was revived.

hate. not funny.

Orion said...

This particular topic is apt to get my dander up quicker than any other. The fact is...liberty and justice for all...means ALL. It seems so plainly simple and obvious and straight forward. Yet people in this country have had lots of trouble with that over the years. If some people can get legally married than ALL people should be able to get legally married. Anything else, in my view, is unconstitutional and contrary to the principles of freedom this country says it is founded upon. It's just the latest civil rights issue...and eventually... will be resolved because people WILL get used to the idea. It always just takes such a bloody long time. I went to my first gay marriage a few weekends ago. It was beautiful, and to me,not very different in feeling than any other. Two people in love, make a life-long commitment to eachother.

Mike said...

I'm with ABM: If not for the practical matter of real-life families today being grossly inconvenienced (to say the least) by bigotry in marriage laws, I'd argue not for government approval of same-sex marriage, but to end government approval of hetero marriage. Shouldn't be mistaken for any of the state's business, and all the stuff about visitation rights and medical power of attorney could be treated as matters of simple contract law.

But we're not there yet, so lemme underscore the first thing I said about Keillor's rant: it's sad. Sad that anyone thinks like that, but especially someone who seemed smarter than that.

I'm also reminded of many people over the years telling me my native colony, D.C., shouldn't be a state "because we'd have to change the American flag." Um... there might be some debatable arguments to be made against D.C. statehood, but that's not one of them.

Come to think of it, of the half-dozen queer married couples I know, none of them routinely share clothes.

Rob said...

I don't really have anything to add. GK reiterated his non-apology in his column today. Blah, blah, some of my best friends are gay, blah blah, I should have known better than to think the sophistication of my wit would be understood by all you yahoos out there, blah blah, really, we all had a good laugh at your heartfelt outrage, blah, all in that infuriatingly patronizing tone that seems to be the only way he can communicate. Somebody needs to tell the guy that "I'm sorry you were offended" isn't the same as "I'm sorry for what I said."

As I said: dead to me.

Rob said...

Can't leave this thing alone.

You know, the reason why Jerry Seinfeld could make that joke and GK can't is that everybody KNOWS "Seinfeld" is fiction. Whereas GK's shtick is that he never shows if he's playing a character or just being himself. His continued success depends on his audience believing in the perpetually bemused smalltown curmudgeon with the fogbound singing voice, and not the much-married fabulously well-to-do Manhattanite celebrity writer. If he starts busting out corrosive gay stereotypes, of course people are going to assume he's speaking from the heart, or at least that he's using his persona to state opinions without having to take responsibility for them.

As Dan Savage said: asshole, asshole, asshole.

Ok, I'm done now.