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Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

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January 12, 2007 | 10 Comments

Dear Garrison,
I've enjoyed your show for many years and hoped to book a place on one of your cruises. This year the cruise goes to Norway — a country that is currently participating in hunting and killing whales. Can we find an excuse for this action, in view of alternative products, energy and food available to such a progressive country?

PLEASE BOYCOTT NORWAY (and other countries like Japan and Iceland) UNTIL THEY STOP KILLING WHALES. Please help this worthy cause and reconsider your trip, as you have a powerful voice in the world. Thank you for everything.

Nancy G.
Portland, OR

There are two sides to this issue, perhaps more, and the Norwegians present their side at their Web site which strikes me as reasonable and worthy of some respect. The Canadians are bludgeoning baby seals, the French are force-feeding geese, the English are harassing foxes, and the Mexicans are torturing bulls. And here we are, waging this war in Iraq that goes on and on and on. For Americans to condemn Norwegians takes a certain, hmmmmm, chutzpah, no? Everybody has blood on their hands, even the Danes. (Talk to the Greenlanders about them.) I boycott some things — I've never set foot in the Mall of America and I refuse to eat veal and I prefer "fair trade" coffee and organic dairy products and eggs and meat and I try to patronize independent bookstores (thereby, in effect, boycotting chains) — but do realize there is something quixotic in it. Lovely and noble, but only a gesture. I look forward to Norway, where I've been several times, and cruising the coast and listening to the Kreutzer Quartet play Grieg and the jazz band Kustbandet play "Vil Du Kom Hjem, Jens Jensen" and sitting in a group discussing Sigrid Undset and hearing Phoebe Hansen talk about her Norwegian-emigrant dad. Where should we go to do all of that? Minot, North Dakota?


Mr. Keillor,

The UK banned the hunting of foxes with hounds over a year ago - and we've been having to lisaten to the Countryside Alliance winge on about it ever since. If you see horse and hounds now, the hunt is probably following either a drag scent or a runner.

Try to get your facts right.

Point well spoken by Garrison. Our need to understand that we can't be pointing fingers when we allow a failed policy in Iraq and Afghanistan to continue without much fanfare. And then there is that comment about Minot, North Dakota (Why Not Minot? Freezings the Reason!) one cannot fully appreciate the Norwegians until they have experienced (11 years worth) Norsk Hostfest ad the parade of Polish Polka Bands along with the aroma of lutefisk. Not bad for a Croatian from the hometown of Bob Dylan basking in America's best skyline - Chicago!

i applaud your response regarding your norwegian cruise and agree with all comments .

That was a very good answer about the whaling issue and reflects for me that we live in a very gray world when it comes to explaining a lot of issues. I hope the Norwegians are correct in their justification of this one. I was very glad to see you mention that you prefer Fair-Trade and organic as well as local instead of chain stores. I am very lucky to have been involved with promoting fair-trade products for about 10 years now (through Lutheran World Relief projects). this involvment lead me to join Co-op America, a national effort, as well as Oregon Rural Action, a more local group, where we promote commerce with local small farmers and producers. I am also, with my husband, a small producer of grass-fed beef for a very local market.
thanks for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts on reading your reply to the lady from my state about whaling in Norway.

I am a long time listener. I probably have heard Prairie Home Companion almost every week from the time I was 9 months old until now some 29 years later. Anyway, to this discussion, I just wanted to say nothing is as perfect as we try to make it seem. Norway is known as a nation always seeking to help humanitarian causes. Should we boycot them for they get part of their livelyhood by the killing of whales? Whales that sustain life in the great northern climate. Is one justice better then another? The truth is cruise liners are some of the worst polluters in the world per capita of people on the ocean. Yet, they make many down troden people happy. Back in 1800s and early 1900s it was the transportation that delivered people to America. I am not saying one should never go on them or that we should never have gone to the moon because the rocket fuel is too expensive. Without these luxuries or others like them, it is possible that life would not be worth living. Everything must be thought of in moderation. Doing too little to save the environment or another cause is not enough and if we indulge in gluttony or other luxuries without end then we have gone too far. Everything under the sun has a beginning, middle, and an end. Which is it going to be for you?

An excellent request from Nancy and a disappointing response from Mr. Keillor. Where would we be if we all used the weak "everybody else is doing it" excuse?

RE: Nancy C, i get sooo tired of everyone that has nothing better to do with their time then worring soooo much about who'se killing this and who'se killing that, there are much more important things in life to worry about, in this country alone, than whose killing something or some animal. And this coming from someone who would, boohoo hoo we have to save that whale, but oh, wait your pregnant and dont want the baby, well hey, dont forget the liberal mantra of, save a baby be a zero, save a whale be hero.

Woohoo! Let's save the whales and hug a tree, too, while we're at it! Come on people! There is nothing inherently evil in hunting whales or foxes, but if they are done too much it can be destructive. We need to be conservational, not preservational. For the record, frozen whale is a delicacy in Alaska.

Lynn says: "but oh, wait your pregnant and dont want the baby, well hey, dont forget the liberal mantra of, save a baby be a zero, save a whale be hero."

Ah yes, and now here we have the conservative mantra of "All life is precious, so don't be so shallow / (unless someone's do for the chair, lethal injection or gallows)."

Garrison's answer on Norway was spot on. I trust the Norwegians to get it right -- they clearly understand how to harvest whales in a sustainable way. They devote a lot of money to science, and there are plenty of Norwegians exercising the scrutiny.

By contrast, trust is not something I associate with OUR national government, especially the Executive Branch, and Garrison's invoking the Iraq tragedy pretty much said it all.

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