The Star Tribune really needs to apologize for its references to me in the past as a “disgraced broadcaster” and to a “Keillor scandal,” based on Minnesota Public Radio accepting the allegations of a woman that I harassed her sexually. I have in my computer hundreds of admiring and loving letters she wrote me over the 13 years she worked for me, including one two years ago in which she says, “You’ve encouraged me. We SEE each other. We make each other laugh. We share the stories of our lives. Neither of us judges the other. And there is never guilt or pressure. We just are. I believe entirely in you and you believe in me. Or you wouldn’t have stayed to lift me up over and over again. I want to tell you everything. And I want to hear your everything. I’d love to walk naked into the lake with you. It would be cold. And there would be laughter. And sweetness.” She and I never were naked, never had an affair, never did anything except write e-mails. To suggest that she feigned friendship for 13 years simply to keep her job is an insult to her. Last fall, for reasons known only to her, she wrote to MPR, demanding money, and they accepted what she said as fact. The scandal is how carelessly and callously MPR has handled the matter. That is a disgrace. If one woman’s unchallenged accusation obviates 42 years of “A Prairie Home Companion” and justifies expunging the work of thousands of performers from the archives, then Minnesota has changed beyond recognition.
Garrison Keillor, St. Paul
The writer is the former host of “A Prairie Home Companion.”
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As a young woman in Hollywood, I made my living in a difficult and male-dominated business. Yes, I was “harassed” in some very memorable ways by some very memorable men.
The lawyer for the woman who is negotiating with Garrison Keillor over his alleged sexual harassment defends her participation (some would say “encouragement”) on the general assumption that women are too afraid to take care of themselves in the face of unwanted advances by their more powerful bosses.
But women also have a responsibility in these circumstances to make it clear — very clear — when it’s not mutual. I know of no professional woman who has not, as a practical matter, prepared themselves for a polite but firm response when a superior or colleague makes unwanted advances.
I also know of no men who would choose to embarrass themselves further if they were made aware that their attention was unappreciated.
Grow up, ladies. Take care of yourselves in the marketplace that we struggled so long to become a part of.
Is it hard? Yes! So try harder!
Karen Proft, Medina
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In some ways it is not surprising that Garrison Keillor bought into the deeply ingrained myth propagated mainly by older male artists that young women are sexually attracted to them. Look at Woody Allen’s character’s affair with a high school student in “Manhattan,” and the 65-year-old protagonist’s relationship with a janitress half his age in Philip Roth’s “The Human Stain.” I’m sure the idea is as ancient as the arts.
What is harder to forgive is his tenacious hold on the fallacy as the evidence mounted against it. We only received a taste in the press of the e-mail and text exchanges, but many of us, women and men, could easily see the wrongness of a man sending sexually explicit messages to a woman half his age when she, in ways subtle and not so subtle, did not reciprocate. Mr. Keillor failed to imagine her point of view and consider that she was not angrily rebuffing him because she was afraid of the consequences.
One of the real values of the #MeToo movement, I hope, is that powerful men, whether out of fear for their careers or actual empathy, do not put as many women in this position in the future. Keillor has transformed overnight from wholesome bard to dirty old man, not because he is the victim he seems intent on portraying himself as, but because he couldn’t, and still can’t, put himself in this young woman’s place and appreciate how his self-centered view has harmed her.
Jean Boler, St. Paul
The writer is a lawyer representing women in discrimination claims. She was one of the lead lawyers in the Jenson vs. Eveleth Taconite Co. case on which the film “North Country” was based.
GUNS AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Why not to arm teachers
President Donald Trump’s comments last week about arming teachers in schools as a sure way to deter shooters is irresponsible and has no legitimate basis in fact or value to our discussion on this very important topic. Back in September 2003, my client and I were in the largest courthouse in Minnesota, the Hennepin County Government Center. I was shot and my client was shot to death by a Wacko (Trump’s description) adverse party. At the time of the shooting, there were dozens and dozens of armed and trained police officers and deputies in the building; plus, there was a large number of unarmed but professional, trained security officers. In fact, when I got shot, there was an armed deputy sheriff about 20 feet from me, out of sight, in the back of the clerks’ office, just on the other side of the counter. None of those openly armed professionals stopped the determined shooter from carrying out my client’s murder.
A reasonable security inspection system was subsequently installed in the Government Center. I’m not aware of any gun violence in that building since then.
Richard Hendrickson, Crystal
The writer is an attorney.
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Having taught junior and senior high school for many years, I have been trying to imagine myself being armed in the classroom. Where would I keep my gun? Perhaps in my desk drawer? But a student could have access to it — perhaps not such a good idea. Maybe I could lock it in the cabinet behind my desk? But if I heard shots, I would first need to have my students duck under their desks for their safety; lock the classroom door; find my keys to unlock the cabinet; get my gun … .
By then, people are already dead — maybe not the perfect plan. OK, I’ll keep the gun on my person. Well, now I flash back on the two times I had to personally break up fights: once between two students in the hallway and once between two in a classroom. I managed to separate each of the angry pairs. Thank goodness I did not have a gun on me, accessible then to the pugilistic teens. We all lived. Our president needs to rethink his suggestion for arming teachers.
Diane Pietrs, St. Paul
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I have worn a gun, surreptitiously. You must never forget, lest someone else take it away and do harm to you and others. You must eschew close personal contact and hugs not only because others might accidentally feel the weapon beneath your clothing, but because close quarters render it useless and difficult to defend. You must be very careful: how you stretch; how and where you take off your overcoat or outer garments; where you sleep, and with whom; and you must always maintain a situational awareness. No daydreaming.
I would hope my teachers are using their full consciousness and training trying to pound some knowledge into my thick skull and not worrying about their hidden weapon and my proximity.
John Crivits, St. Paul
• • •
Let’s see if I have this right: Train teachers at schools how to shoot a handgun, then keep it locked up in the school for safety. Then a killer enters the school with an AR-15 and begins shooting. The teacher runs to get the handgun from the safe and faces the AR-15 killer. Pistol vs. AR-15? Problem solved!
Doug Jensen, Minnetonka