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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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June 28, 2007 | 7 Comments

Dear Garrison:
I am always amazed at how many people find something offensive on APHC, as well as other places. I find it disturbing at how thin-skinned a society we've become. It seems as though people nowadays feel they have to be offended by SOMETHING, otherwise they'll give the impression of being apathetic, uninvolved or uncommitted. It's gotten to the point of being ridiculous. My guess is that it's a symptom of our increasingly polarized political environment.

Personally, I can't remember the last time I was offended by anything. If something I dislike or disagree with bothers me, I just shrug it off and get on with my life. My message to anyone who is so easily offended: Lighten up, people! How do you see it, Garrison?

Peter M.
Charlottesville, VA

People who write in to complain are fans of the show and I take their complaints as a sign of loyalty. It shows that they have a sense of ownership. I, for example, am deeply offended by the destruction of historic and graceful old buildings in St. Paul, and Minneapolis, and before that, in my hometown of Anoka. I can still get hot under the collar if I talk about the old courthouse and the old Carnegie library in Anoka that got busted by vandals in suits and ties forty years ago, and the old fire barn and the old St. Stephen's church. But if you tell me about something similar in Charlottesville, I might shake my head but I don't feel the same outrage. So when people write angry letters to me, I take it as a compliment. And of course sometimes they're right.


I'm offended by Peter M's comments

Dear Peter and Garrison, I'm in the divided position of supporting both of you. Yes, there are thin-skinned people who express outrage at the slightest of 'situations'. I think the vacuity of their complaints is grounded in the apathy, uninvolvedness and uncommitted nature of their lives - they are somewhat undimensional. But there are reasons to get upset. The unnecessary destruction of our past and its embodiment of our values, aspirations,and accomplishments, as Garrison cited, is a perfect example. The wanton destrction of lives in a war based on lies, or a unfounded conviction that pesticide toxicity is a myth, or global warming is a myth, or even that evolution is a myth are also things we should at least consider raising the sub-collar temperature over. Oh well, happines can't buy money. Rock, East Otto, NY

> The unnecessary destruction of our past ...

Then you must be a member of The National Trust for Historic
Preservation? --who work to preserve some of our gems of
beauty, grace, simplicity, expression, and time. And, yes,
esp. in contrast to what are often put up in their places
(McMansions sprawling over rural Loudoun Co., here in the
greater D.C. area, or occupying an entire lot and shadowing
the neighbor), the loss of some older structures & "viewsheds"
is a shame.


Garrison and JT on the same stage! It's a dream come true as we are gaga fans of both performers. We had the good fortune to see James Taylor at Tanglewood, that gorgeous venue in the Berkshires, a few summers ago and we attended a Prairie Home Companion show in Jackson, Mississippi, when our now grown children were pre-schoolers. We can't overstate our gratitude to both for the countless hours of entertainment and comfort provided. You're both a big part of our family! Nine yeaers ago my husband's job required us to move from Mississippi to Brunswick, Maine, where we found our bliss and greatly appreciated being surrounded by a majority of like minded thinkers. The same job required a return move to Mississippi last summer and it's been quite an adjustment in oh so many ways, most being a real challenge as it's an even more conservative environment (we are the only democrats we know in our neighborhood!) than the one we left nine years ago. Thankfully, Garrison and the music of James Taylor moved with us and remain beloved constants in our lives. One silver lining in our living here is the abundance of sweet, homegrown of two things money can't buy, the other of course being true love, just as Garrison stated years ago! Not to be long in the tooth, but just want to add that we've been listening to PHC since our second year of marriage, 1982, when we were living in Ann Arbor, MI. You have maintained a steadfast consistency of humor, varied and wonderful entertainment (special nods to Robin and Linda), thoughtful insight and commentary on our culture and the many wonders and oddities therein. Our three children have grown up with your program and the music of JT as constants and it truly sets them apart from the majority of their unenlighted contemporaries. We love and appreciate you both very much! Can hardly wait for tonight's show! Thanks for the memories and all the ones yet to come. Wishing you all the best!

What amazes me is that people who are easily offended by left-leaning political humor and other recurring features of the show continue to listen to PHC in the first place. I mean, I don't read the columns in the paper by writers with whom I heartily disagree. Why do they continue to listen to a show that makes them mad? Do they need to subject themselves to something aggravating in order to feel alive, or what?

I've watched this tendency for years, trying to understand it. It does seem that people feel increasingly entitled to object to other people's conduct.

But something less invidious often seems to underly these complaints. A lot of people find themselves (usually not by choice) as members of some special interest group. If you have a Downs syndrome child, for example, you acquire a new political sensitivity to certain words and policies. People who snap at the statements or conduct of others often are hyper-sensitive because of involvement with a cause.

Garrison's response is elegantly tolerant and wise.

Only critique I have of the show is I wish Garrison would sing less. You have these unbelievable talents on the show and then their songs get drawn down considerably because you insist on singing with everyone. Not a big knock on your signing - very, very few of us should be singing with Emilou Harris, James Taylor, etc. Let the performers perform.

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