SATIRE/Rosie Sorenson

Who Put the Woe in Lake Wobegone?

You could have knocked me over with a powder milk biscuit. How could it be that Garrison Keillor’s storied career was detonated and blown to smithereens by a simple hug and a touch on a bare back?

As far as we know, this is the only allegation made against him of improper behavior. According to the account given by Mr. Keillor, a woman confided in him about her unhappiness, and he responded with what he now admits was a hug-gone-wrong, for which he apologized (unlike the presidential impersonator in the Oval Office) when the woman recoiled from his touch.

I suppose it was inevitable that madness would ensue from all these allegations of sexual harassment. The dikes of protection erected around the hostile sexual behavior of (mostly) men could no longer hold. All it took was a few brave women to break through with a gush of personal testimony.

But unless and until we find out definitively, if we ever do, that there was more to Mr. Keillor’s story, feminist hearts will remain perplexed. Where do we draw the line?

I mean, what was Garrison’s crime?

Did he whip out his johnson and slap her in the face with it? No.

Did he drop trou in his trailer to scare the woman? No.

Did he thrust his tongue down the woman’s throat? No.

Did he grab the woman’s breasts and say, “Shake ‘em, baby, shake ‘em?” No.

Did he slap the woman on her butt and holler, “Whooeee, the bigger the cushion, the better the pushin?” No.

Did he threaten to fire the woman if she refused sex with him? No.

Did he threaten to fire the woman if she told anyone he’d grabbed her by the p****? No and No.

Even so, his bosses gave him no quarter; his firing cost him millions.

Is it not possible to bring some common sense to the table? Are we not adult enough to come up with a formula to weigh one allegation against another? And to stitch up the punishment accordingly?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Yesterday, a confidential informant leaked a secret recording from a recent closed-door meeting of the select committee of the joint House and Senate ethics committees. C-Span was not allowed in the room. Experts from the fields of law, psychology and criminal justice were invited to help legislators navigate the turbulent waters of sexual harassment allegations.

Chairman John (“Johnny”) Isakson (R-Georgia) called the meeting to order and introduced the honorable guests.

Nodding, he said, “Gentlemen, thank you for coming today. As you know, we’ve been bedeviled by a flurry of allegations against members of our own august bodies as well as against men in every industry in the country. We’ve invited you here to give us some guidance about how to assess these allegations.

“The big sticking point, as I see it, is how do we mete out punishment if we don’t have a way to judge the crime? We’re counting on you for some direction.”

Attorney Travis Tort: After clearing his throat and straightening his red tie, he flipped on the microphone and said, “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to begin by suggesting that we rank the crimes numerically, say, from one to a hundred with 100 being assigned to the most heinous of acts.

For example, one butt pat might be worth, oh, I dunno, maybe 10 points. Two butt pats occurring during the last 20 years, maybe 25. Five butt pats in the same period, 60 and so on. These are just opening suggestions, you understand.”

Dr. F. Roid: “I agree. That’s a good place to start,” he said as he stroked his gray beard. “In addition, I recommend we rate the pulling of one’s member out of one’s trousers without getting prior approval a firm 70. Flogging it in public would definitely be a 90, no question. Rape would be 100 or above.”

The members of the committee, Democrats and Republicans alike, sat frozen, with only their eyes sweeping the room.

Mr. N-Itall: “We have to stop at 100,” he said and straightened in his chair. “In addition to assigning numbers to the offense, I’d like to add a couple of further distinctions: ‘Above the waist or below the waist.’ ‘Bare skin or clothed skin.’ ‘Underage or of legal age.’ How about we tack on 25 points for bare skin above the waist, and 75 points for underage, clothed or not?”

Dr. F. Roid: “That almost sounds too lenient. Maybe we should make the scale 1-500.”

Attorney Tort: “Well, let’s not get carried away here. You don’t want to add thousands of pages to the legal code.”

Mr. N-Itall: “He’s not getting carried away. He’s only trying to construct a scale that fits these crimes and a method for adjudicating them, as in ‘I see your 5 butt pats and raise you 7 underage physical contacts.’”

Mr. Tort: “Oh, so you think this is a game?”

“Of course it’s a game. It’s politics. Let’s get real, d***head.”

Mr. Tort, in a sneering, sing-songy kind of way: “Well, then, how about I see your Al Franken, and raise you two Roy Moores?”

The Chairman banged the gavel. “Gentleman, gentleman! Let’s keep this civil.” A baritone thrum from the members could be detected, growing louder and louder, verging on cacophony.

Dr. F. Roid: “How about threatening the victim with retaliation if she squeals? How would you rate that?” he said, red-faced. “Or putting your tongue down her tonsils without her permission? How does that rate, Mr. Know-it-All?”

Oh, Snap! Democrats jumped up, ripped the shirts off several Republicans and began fondling them. The remaining Republicans stood up and dropped trou.

Chairman Isakson fled the room.

So much for bipartisanship. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s meeting on their next hot topic: How to dispose of those pesky, no-good, lay-about children who’ve been sucking billions from the Treasury and leaving nothing for infrastructure.

Rosie Sorenson is a humor writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can contact her at:

From The Progressive Populist, Febuary 2, 2018

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