The list of male celebrities being taken down with allegations of sexual misconduct keeps growing, with some of my heroes joining the dubious club. Some that I formerly admired include Bill Cosby, Al Franken and Kevin Spacey. And now, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor were fired on the same day. While my knowledge of Matt Lauer is pretty limited, from what I’ve heard from others, particularly women, his takedown wasn’t a huge surprise to many.
Garrison Keillor, though, came as a shock. As the definitive “nice guy,” the ultimate Midwestern gentleman, I never expected Garrison Keillor, creator and host of A Prairie Home Companion to be among that number. And maybe he’s not. According to npr.org, “he says he meant to pat a woman on her back when she told him she was unhappy. He says her shirt was open and that his hand went up it about six inches. He says he apologized after she recoiled. He writes that he thought they were friends until he got a call from her lawyer.”
That certainly seems innocent enough. At the same time, if that’s all that happened, then Minnesota Public Radio is taking quite a risk letting go of such a high-profile personage, such a widely-loved individual.
I’m not saying he couldn’t have done it. It has become all too common for evil-doers of various kinds to be spoken of after the fact by neighbors and other acquaintances as “such a nice, quiet guy. I never would have expected that of him.” Even though the article I read says he was fired over allegations, I assume, they let him go because of more than just an accusation. Apparently, Matt Lauer had been under investigation for a while. I would hope that, with Garrison Keillor, there was a certain amount of proof for this action to be taken.
At the risk of sounding naïve, I’ve known for most of my life that men are pigs, not just from hearing women say it, but from me witnessing some of the things that they’ve said and done. In fact, there have been many times I’ve been embarrassed about my gender (and race and nationality, etc.). I like to think I’m a decent judge of character, and it’s just disheartening for me to see “nice guys” proven otherwise.
Some have said that this sort of behavior is hard-wired into men. I don’t know about that. But the fact is we live in a country where sex is everywhere, and at the same time, it’s suppressed and taboo. Mixed signals are out there, not necessarily from women as some men claim as an excuse for their bad behavior, but just in our surroundings. However, it’s really not that difficult to know what’s okay and what’s not. Some men, though, especially those with power, take advantage of it and expect that women will just “let you do it.”
And yes, I know that what many women have to endure is even more than simply disheartening. Those who have been taken advantage of by true predators deserve some form of satisfaction or compensation. My heart goes out to them.
But still, it’s sad when another hero bites the dust.