pageok
pageok
pageok
What a funny guy:

(Note: This entire post relies on the accuracy of the press account, from the Chicago Maroon, the University of Chicago student newspaper. If this account is incorrect, then neither in the post, in which case I'd just quote Bugs Bunny and say "What a bunch of maroons.")

NPR humorist Garrison Keillor, in what was surely a joke, said:

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. "I'm trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to Jews," Keillor smirked. "I feel if your citizenship is in the Nation of Israel -- like a Jew's is -- you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If Jews are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?"

Amusing!

What, you say you aren't amused? Even though Keillor was surely speaking in jest, you think it's a jest that's not in the best taste? Well, fortunately it turns out Keillor did not say the above. Here's what he did say:

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. "I'm trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to Catholics," Keillor smirked. "I feel if your loyalty is to a foreign political leader like the Pope -- like a Catholic's is -- you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If Catholics are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?"

Now that's funny! No, wait, it's not really funny, and that's not what he said either, nor did he say it about, for instance, Muslims. Here's what he really, really did say (and this time it's true -- check out the newspaper article):

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. "I'm trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to born-again Christians," Keillor smirked. "I feel if your citizenship is in Heaven -- like a born again Christian's is -- you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If born again Christians are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?"

Now if I'm right that the first two hypotheticals wouldn't be in the best of taste, even if it were quite clear that Keillor was just joking, then wouldn't we say the same about the real quote, which referred to born-again Christians?

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Follow-up on Garrison Keillor:
  2. What a funny guy:
Follow-up on Garrison Keillor:

(1) Peter Hsu and Matt Bower confirm that Keillor made a similar joke about stripping born-again Christians of citizenship on his Prairie Home Companion. Here's the audio file — it starts at about 3:30.

(2) Some people suggested that the criticisms of Keillor betray a lack of a sense of humor. I don't think so; I think one aspect of a sense of humor is a sense of what humor is mean-spirited and what isn't. One reader, for instance, pointed me to this post by Stephen Bainbridge and suggested it was similar to Keillor's gag:

[Post title:] The kind of multiculturalism I can get behind

I discovered that owning a dog easily accomplished what many diversity training programs have failed to do for years. Regardless of our race, color, religion, or country of origin, we were one community of civilized dog lovers. (Source: Slate)

Except for those unAmerican cat lovers, all of whom should be sent to Guantanamo forthwith.

But what makes Steve Bainbridge's post amusingly absurd, rather than mean-spirited, is that it's completely obvious that he and his audience don't really dislike cat lovers. It's not just that they don't want to send them to Guantanamo (of course they don't, just as Keillor wouldn't really endorse a proposal to strip born-again Christians of citizenship); it's that they don't really dislike them. On the other hand, I suspect that much of Keillor's audience does dislike born-again Christians, and that a considerable chunk even holds them in contempt. I also suspect Keillor also in some measure dislikes or disapproves of them: Check out the audio, which lists his various complaints about them — these are exaggerated for the sake of humor, but they seem to me to bespeak real disapproval and not just absurdist self-conscious magnification of trivial differences.

Suggesting the deportation of people with whom you obviously have no meaningful grievance is absurdist. Suggesting it as to people whom you do dislike, even if you suggest it facetiously, is mean-spirited. Or at least that's what my sense of humor tells me.

(3) Finally, if you'd like another analogy, imagine that a born-again Christian commentator, speaking to a mostly born-again Christian audience, said the same thing -- in jest, of course -- about non-Christians, or "secular humanists," or atheists. Just some innocent absurdist humor? Or something that seems mean-spirited enough that it's worth speaking out against (though of course not banning)?

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Follow-up on Garrison Keillor:
  2. What a funny guy: