Ruining Lives

Obama Administration

I’ve been watching developments in the Duggar “19 kids and counting” scandal. There are reports (I don’t know if official documents have been found) saying that Josh Duggar sued the Arkansas Department of Human Services to prevent them from making a finding against him and possibly to keep them from monitoring the family for further abuse. Basically, the more we learn, the hinkier it gets.

Sarah Posner and others have observed that the family’s concern, and the concern of their apologists, all along has been entirely for Josh. The kid made a mistake. It shouldn’t ruin his life. They got counseling for him (although not for the victims that I heard, and apparently it wasn’t standard counseling).

After all, Mike Huckabee forgave him

“Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable,'” Huckabee wrote in a Facebook post. “He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

Except all reports indicate the family closed ranks and were not that honest with the authorities, and I’ve yet to see indication that the victims have been given any consideration whatsoever.

(We might notice a connection to rape accusations — conservatives often condemn rape in the abstract, but when there’s an actual (male) perpetrator and (female) victim, somehow they become very lenient. We don’t want to run anybody’s life by convicting him of anything.)

Sarah Posner writes,

This week, a recap of their television show on their blog discussed how Jim Bob and Michelle “encourage their kids to take a chaperone along on all their dates so they have someone to keep them accountable and ensure that they stick to their courtship standards.” In their family, they police sex outside of marriage. In politics they police sex between consenting adults, sex between people of the same sex; they are “pure” and “godly” because they police and condemn other people’s sexual lives. But now the public knows that this family which enforces “purity” has covered up the sexual predations—against children, even their own children— of their star son.

The Duggars haven’t shied away from “protecting” children in other contexts. As Right Wing Watch reports, last year Josh Duggar “led a successful campaign to defeat a LGBT nondiscrimination measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which he said jeopardized the safety of children,” and that his mother “also ran a robocall pushing for the repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which she warned would empower ‘child predators’ to threaten ‘the safety and innocence of a child.’”

I’d be willing to bet that the Duggars don’t see their own hypocrisy. Of course they are more moral than other people, because they are Bible-believing Christians. They exist in a state of grace. If they transgress, it’s only a mistake and an opportunity to bask in God’s forgiveness. Anyone else doing the same thing is just depraved.

The “19 kids” program gives me the creeps — I confess I watched about ten minutes of it once. The lot of them, with their anodyne demeanors and determined avoidance of self-awareness are just depressing to me.

Anyway, this takes me to something I wrote in Rethinking Religion:

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that, as often as not, people who are moral absolutists about others’ behavior find ways to rationalize breaking the rules themselves. For example, the Pro-Choice Action Network hosts a web page of stories collected from abortion clinics about anti-abortion activists who seek abortions. A recurring theme of these stories is that the anti-choice woman has persuaded herself that her situation is unique and deserving of special consideration, unlike the other women in the waiting room, who are just sluts.

Of course, anecdotes may be manufactured. Yet there is solid data showing us that rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock pregnancy are higher in conservative “Bible Belt” U.S. states than in more liberal ones, and this pattern seems to replicate itself worldwide. For example, rates of abortion in overwhelmingly Catholic Latin America, where abortion is nearly everywhere illegal and harshly punished, are higher than in the United States and a lot higher than in mostly liberal and allegedly decadent western Europe. More conservative eastern Europe has abortion rates through the roof, however, which drives up the European average.

It appears that when absolutist morality is publicly enforced, actual human behavior — heterosexual behavior included — is driven into the closet, leaving actual humans with no practical guidance in their actual circumstances.

I say the absolutist approach to morality gets everything backward. It creates too wide a gap between public righteousness and what people are really doing in their private lives, so that the moral rules are not really guiding anyone. And when we cede the presumed moral high ground to the absolutists, too often we squelch open and honest public discussion of our real-world circumstances and moral decisions.

I honestly don’t want to know what goes on in the Duggar family when the cameras aren’t running. TLC would be doing them, and the world, a favor by cutting them loose from their contract, IMO. They could use a reality check, I suspect.

Update: Be sure to read I could’ve been a Duggar wife: I grew up in the same church, and the abuse scandal doesn’t shock me. It’s possible Josh’s little mistake is just the tip of an iceberg.

Share Button


  1. grannyeagle  •  May 28, 2015 @3:50 pm

    Right, we don’t want to ruin a predator’s life because he made a mistake. What about the victim’s lives? I have encountered many adult women who have been abused and they have a very difficult time dealing with it let alone overcome it. There are many emotions, guilt, shame, anger that they have to overcome. Even if they get counseling (legitimate) it may take years and interfere with their being able to have a normal sexual life. And the only mistake they made was being a victim.

  2. uncledad  •  May 28, 2015 @3:54 pm

    “TLC would be doing them, and the world, a favor by cutting them loose from their contract, IMO”

    Even better how about shutting the whole damn channel down. “The learning Channel” my ass all that channel airs is screwed up people, what exactly are we supposed to be learning? It wasn’t bad enough that little Josh was diddling his underage sisters, the family friend “cop” who they “reported” the activity to was later arrested for possession of kiddie p#rn! Ah yes aren’t they all just swell Christians!

  3. Dukkha Earl  •  May 28, 2015 @4:08 pm

    @uncledad: There i as much learning on The Learning Channel as there is history on The History Channel!

  4. c u n d gulag  •  May 28, 2015 @4:24 pm

    Statistics show that child molesters were often molested themselves when they were children.
    So, where did Josh pick-up this deviant behavior?
    Not from TV or the movies – the family lives in an insular “Christian” bubble.

    I’m not saying it was Josh’s father or mother. But, maybe another relative? Or, a family friend, like that cop with the kiddie porn.

    Is it irresponsible to ask?
    No, it’s irresponsible NOT to ask!

    I’m old enough to remember TLC from back in the early-mid 80’s, when if you watched it, you might actually learn something.
    TLC had arts and crafts, and history back then.

    Now, it’s a cesspool of reality shows involving hicks and inbred’s – or, most likely, both.
    It’s like “The Beverly Hillbillies” – minus the laughs and pathos.
    Or, insecure imbeciles looking for their “15 Minutes of Fame.” More like infamy.

    What does one learn from this Duggar family disaster?
    That if you diddle a sibling, you and your family lose your reputations, your show, and millions of dollars.

    I don’t watch a second of TLC, and haven’t in 30 years, so, if I’m wrong, please let me know.
    But imo, not only does TLC need to shut-down this Dugger-buggering show, but close-up shop all together.
    Either that, or go back to “larnin'” people somethin’.
    Yeah, fat chance.

    They’ll find some other attention starved “MORANS,” and build a new “reality” show around them.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  May 28, 2015 @4:26 pm


    Back in the twit-filter!

    If I’m not in “moderation,” my comment end up spending their time in the twit-filter.

  6. maha  •  May 28, 2015 @5:00 pm

    gulag — you have been redeemed. 🙂

  7. Swami  •  May 28, 2015 @8:28 pm

    Off topic…Seems former Speaker of the House “coach” Hastert was just indicted for structuring and lying to the FBI. Also seems like “coach” was paying hush money to the tune of 3.5 mil to cover his past indiscretions, whatever they might be?. I have have no idea what old “coach” was up to, but given the fact that he’s a cast in the die repuglican and a staunch family values type of guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if old coach was dippin’ into a honey pot before it was ready for harvest. Partaking of the forbidden fruit?
    We’ll see how this one plays out. But if someone could shake him down for 3.5 million in hush money you’ve gotta figure that whatever he did was a whopper.

  8. Tom_b  •  May 28, 2015 @8:34 pm

    Just don’t let ’em interbreed with the “Honey Boo-Boo’s”. Idiocracy.

  9. Bonnie  •  May 28, 2015 @9:52 pm

    Where there is one child molester, there is a whole nest of them.

  10. Swami  •  May 28, 2015 @10:45 pm

    Don’t be so hard on Josh. Maybe his inexcusable behavior was just part of the home schooled sex education curriculum. Are the Duggar’s from Arkansas.

    Arkansas foreplay- Psst, hey sis are you awake?

  11. Doug  •  May 28, 2015 @10:48 pm

    It’s laughable after Jim & Tammy that ‘Christians’ think that TV is a good place to get a fix of religion. You have two kinds of TV preachers – con men in it for cash. They’re the less dangerous variety and ambitious tyrants in the media for power over people. That’s the most poisonous variety. If you are looking for virtue of the Christian variety, look for it locally in those churches with soup kitchens or other outreach programs. Lot’s of good Christian ministers, but you won’t find ’em on TV.

  12. Neil Obstat  •  May 28, 2015 @11:31 pm

    In 2002, JimBob was running for some political office, and one of his stances was that rape & incest should both be capital crimes. Co-inciding with Josh’s little sibling exploration experiments.

    Should we act shocked over appearance of tragic irony, or try to just quietly enjoy a steaming cup of Schadenfreude?

  13. maha  •  May 29, 2015 @6:09 am

    In 2002, JimBob was running for some political office, and one of his stances was that rape & incest should both be capital crimes. Co-inciding with Josh’s little sibling exploration experiments.

    Y’know, he may have been sincere when he talked about capital crimes. He’s probably excellent at compartmentalizing — walling off real life from fantasy life; walling off facts from beliefs; etc.

  14. Dan  •  May 28, 2015 @11:35 pm

    I notice that republicans have a skewed sense of ‘justice.’
    A black kid takes a pack of cigarillos from a store and death is fine. A CEO takes millions from customers, clients, and/or investors and no harm done.

    One typically votes Democrat, the other Republican…

  15. grannyeagle  •  May 29, 2015 @9:12 am

    Doug: Once again you have pointed out the duality in the Christian faith and belief system. One is so focused on beliefs and fear that they seek power by spreading their fear. The opposite focuses on love and attempts to follow Jesus’ example by helping and healing fellow humans as much as possible. The duality is fear versus love. If we choose fear then we want to eliminate the others because they are threatening to us and our security. However, if we choose love, which is the higher decision, then not only do we help others to heal but we do a lot of healing on ourselves.
    IMO (and not only mine) humans have reached a point in our evolution that we must recognize the oneness of the universe and that includes all of creation that we are a part of or else we will destroy ourselves and join the species that have gone the way of extinction. The universe will go on, our spirits will continue but we will have missed a great opportunity to evolve on the earth plane. It is very difficult to be a human but we are all in this together and there is always help from the higher forces.
    We just have to make the higher decision and the only answer to fear: LOVE

  16. c u n d gulag  •  May 29, 2015 @9:33 am

    Eloquently put.
    As usual! 🙂

  17. Swami  •  May 29, 2015 @10:15 am

    Was JimBob talking about real rape or that badge of honor type date rape that so many young college girls are now claiming as part of their experience of being subjugated by the male species?

  18. PurpleGirl  •  May 29, 2015 @10:53 am

    Doug: If you are looking for virtue of the Christian variety, look for it locally in those churches with soup kitchens or other outreach programs. Lot’s of good Christian ministers, but you won’t find ‘em on TV.

    You are so right. There are lots of churches and ministers who are daily living their beliefs but unless you look for them or attend one those churches, you won’t find them mentioned by the TV talking heads. And it’s a shame because they do do good work, quietly and persistently working to make lives and communities better.

  19. PurpleGirl  •  May 29, 2015 @10:59 am

    Maha: Rape and sexual assault have for a long time been capital crimes; it never seems to have stopped any one from doing them them. The need to hold power over another human being seems to be of utmost importance to many people.

  20. joanr16  •  May 29, 2015 @4:20 pm

    Where there is one child molester, there is a whole nest of them.

    As Dennis “Handsy” Hastert apparently knows… and the rest of us are just finding out.

    I am so sick of these self-righteous sex predators.

  21. Swami  •  May 29, 2015 @7:03 pm

    Oh, don’t be so hard on Dennis..He probably was just helping some high school freshman on the wrestling team adjust his athletic supporter and his good coach-like intentions were misconstrued. I’m sure Dennis has agreed to pay 3.5 million as strictly a preventive measure..An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

  22. c u n d gulag  •  May 30, 2015 @11:05 am

    He was just kissing the young male wrestler’s jock-itch to make his boo-boo feel better!