But the basis for the defenestration of others is much less clear. Celebrated humorist Garrison Keillor’s popular show The Prairie Home Companion was axed by Minnesota Public Radio because Keillor put his hand on the bare back of a distraught woman whose shirt was loose, as he tells it. The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza was let go for “improper sexual conduct” that he claims consisted of a consensual relationship with a co-worker. But even in these cloudier cases, the women came forward and launched their complaints. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Henderson. The Freep launched an investigation based on allegations by an unaffected outside party with a grudge — not any of the women involved. And the women who its investigation did finally fetch up, as best as one can tell, demanded no action against Henderson. It’s no wonder that Henderson is now exploring a lawsuit.
All of this suggests that the climate of censoriousness that #MeToo has generated spooked the Freep so much that it wanted to take no chances. But there is something quasi-totalitarian when a company starts going after employees for victimless behavior that has been retroactively branded as inappropriate. It might also end up targeting women who engage in “sexually themed” conversations — replacing the fear of sexual harassment with that of HR inquisitions.