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June 11, 2007 | 11 Comments

Dear Mr. Keillor,
This week you shot a groundhog. Every week, it's the same darned thing. You think it's funny to have an animal die in some undignified way. I withdrew support from Hawaii Public Radio when I lived there because of your incessant humor about animal death and cruelty. Now I live in Montana.

I turn the show off as soon as the first animal dies in your monologue. You are a poor second to Jean Shepard if you cannot remedy your habit of killing animals with your humor. I heard you live when you visited Honolulu two or three years ago. I'm glad you refrained from animal jokes then. My wife and I were prepared to go ballistic in the audience.

Jerald C.
Eureka, MT

I have never shot an animal in my life, Mr. C., unlike most of your neighbors there in Montana. People in Lake Wobegon (and Montana) do sometimes shoot animals they consider pests, and that is what the pastor's wife did in the story I told on the show. It wasn't a joke; it was a detail in a story, same as the thunderclouds in the sky and the geese flying overhead honking. If you think that a storyteller should eliminate all violence and cruelty from stories, then you should perhaps address Stephen King or Cormac McCarthy. I do wonder about people who would "go ballistic" in an audience — and it makes me wonder if maybe the days of live radio aren't numbered.


Holy cow (if one can beatify a cow in this man's presence). Such an extreme reaction to storytelling. If an imagined animal's death causes such a response, it's unsettling to think what happens around his house when he sees stories about what's happening in Iraq, Darfur and other places where real violence is happening.

Wow, if a story of a pastor's wife killing a groundhog is enough to make Jerald "go ballistic," I can only imagine what happens when he gets his utility bills during a cold Montana winter. Do they go "thermonuclear"?

"Killing animals with your humor"? Really? So a PHC knock-knock joke could send a squirrel to its demise? My god, think of the penguins!

I wonder where radical animal
activists stand on cockroaches?
Seems like some people will do
anything for attention!
My husband and I were privileged
to see the show at the Greek.
It was a high point in my life and
I'm far into middle age and have
done some pretty interesting things.
I listened to the show twice -- once
Saturday and once Sunday. Besides a
good book, Prairie Home is the best
entertainment around!!
Thanks for being there (on the RADIO!).
Sandy Gilman
San Clemente, CA

Dear Garrison,

I would certainly hope that just because one "world traveler" does not like a good story with accurate details in it, that you would even consider quiting live radio. I know that is not what you said, but one must be prepared to fight for the things they really beleive in. I for one beleive that a radio show host of ones character would surpass anyone persons need to complain about anything that host decided to bring to us. As a matter of fact, I am quite fed up with people chimming in every so often to tell you how to run your show or to tell you that you said something that hurt thier little feelings. Well hear this, I am going on record to say that the next person that complains in anyway shape or form must first supply to you with proof that thier radio show would be a better representation of American life than yours!

Greg and Sandra in Michigan.

It's a story! Good stories mirror real life. You did not like the material so you turned off the show. Yet you live in a state where hunting is the norm. Well, I'll still listen to the show and continue to wonder about the human condition.

Your response reminded me of an occasion when I was asked to fill in on a panel discussion about violence in the mass media. All I was was a young reporter not used to getting up in front of people. And I became more nervous when I realized it was a rather large crowd of very passionate people. You might say they were the kind of folks who might "go ballistic" at a friendly radio show. My bacon was saved, though, by our very talented and straight-talking movie critic. "There is," he started, "no such thing as violence in movies!" There was general murmuring and shaking of heads. And he continued. "What there is is PRETEND violence." I was smart enough to sit back and let him handle the session.
Happy Father's Day, Garrison, if you don't mind me calling you Garrison. Now I have to get back to answering my e-mail, most notably a note from a parent who's upset that our little league team is playing a playoff game on Father's Day. To each her own, I suppose. But I can't imagine many better Father's Days than watching my kid play baseball under a clear June sky (knock wood) in Michigan.


I just read the letter from the person complaining about your humor involving the death of animals.

Obviously, this self appointed guardian of animals is not very perceptive or he would have known you often are making fun of the hunters instead of the animals.

I'm sure my views on hunting are very different than yours, but I love your humor no matter who the victim is, man or animal. It is true that there is a large number of people who believe animals and plants(trees especially) should never be harvested, but that just can't work.

I don't want to debate that, but if I did there is plenty of evidence in the Bible to support the outrageous idea that animals AND plants were put here for our use.

I appreciate your genius in bringing humor to everyday life situations. I know you won't let anyone deter you from being yourself.

If any such person should "go ballistic" I'm sure your quick thinking could turn it around and put him in his place. In fact, why not rehearse for such an occurence.

Good Luck,
Richard Stephens

What an absurd statement. The shooting of the Groundhog was part of a STORY for heaven's sake. These are the same type of folks who want the Woodsman, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf to all live happily ever after.

Something about shows from Hawaii seems to elicit the dumbest complaints. Earlier this year, it was someone who complained that his NPR contributions were being frittered away by the glamorous touring schedule of PHC to places like Hawaii (I'm sure NPR does not pick up the tab for GK's airfare or any other creature comforts). Now, we have Jerald getting fevered over the deaths of make believe animals in fictitious stories. Hope he doesn't reading The Yearling by mistake.

I don't go around hunting animals and I don't berate anyone who does. I do eat hamburgers and fried chicken so it is killing/death by proxy when ordering up a burger.

I do get upset when people kill horses or cows because they want to shoot something for no other purpose than to shoot it.


I want to tell you that I enjoyed your story and not to mind some animal rights idiot going ballistic. Live radio is alive and well thanks to people like you.

I am a conservative (bordering on libertarian) so you can imagine how many times some of your jokes have tramped on my beliefs. This is one of the main differences between liberals and conservatives. We know how to laugh at ourselves. Perhaps some future news from Lake Woebegon will be about how an animal rights activists group came and protested the pastors wife's indiscriminate groundhog murders!! And this from a Christian woman. LOL

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