Yesterday, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar took to the airwaves to defend their decision to sacrifice their daughters’ well-being, so their eldest son wouldn’t have a ruined “testimony” or whatever. It was a scene with enough fake crying, fake tanner, and vacuous Jesus talk to make Jimmy Swaggart’s infamous “I have sinned!” speech seem like an understated Shakespearean reading:
Since the interview was with Fox, it didn’t go as hard on the Duggars as I would have liked, including pushing them on outing Bill Gothard as the “counselor” they send Josh to, their disgusting beliefs on how victims of sexual abuse are often to blame for their abuse, and why they kept having children, despite having one son who was preying on the others. Despite this, the Duggars clearly gave themselves enough rope to hang themselves with their astonishingly tone-deaf responses.
Unsurprisingly, the Duggars took the “Christian persecution” route and proclaimed that the real crime was that Josh’s crimes were brought to light, not the crimes themselves. Jim Bob and Michelle complained about an “agenda” that’s out to get them, as opposed to putting blame where it’s due (i.e., Josh for committing the abuse and themselves for covering it up and enabling it). Once again, we see that conservatives are all about “personal responsibility,” until it’s time for them to (wo)man up themselves. What that happens, “personal responsibility” goes out the window, and suddenly it’s the fault of the “liberal media,” the police department, those LGBT people with their “agenda,” and various other nefarious parties.
However, the rumor that Josh had molested his sisters has been floating around online for about ten years. I myself have known about this rumor for about five years or so, but I didn’t put any credence in it, because I assumed that it was started by “Razing Ruth” an infamous scammer/blogger who falsely claimed to be a Duggar insider and escapee from Christian patriarchy. It wasn’t until I saw the police report on the “In Touch” website that I realized that the rumors were more true that I ever imagined. Even the details about the aborted Oprah interview and Josh confessing his “sins” at the home church were circulating on the Internet way before “In Touch” every dreamed of running a story of the Duggars. Given this how long the “Josh Duggar is a molester” rumors have been floating around, it’s shocking that it took this long for a reporter to investigate (and in case you’re wondering, the way in which “In Touch” got the police records was completely legal, so the Duggars can shut up about that: http://www.buzzfeed.com/claudiakoerner/release-of-josh-duggar-police-report-was-legal-under-arkansa#.kl0Nqxlmb)
But Jim Bob and Michelle continue to wail about how their privacy has been invaded by those mean, liberal, gay reporters, with their “agenda.” Never mind the fact that we wouldn’t even know about the Duggars if they didn’t have a reality show, one which, presumably both parents had to green light, given that most of the kids were/are underage. Or the fact that Jim Bob used his kids as props to help his political career. And that other inconvenient fact that the Duggars were also celebrities in the Christian homeschooling world prior to their mainstream success. The truth is that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are no different than infamous “momager” Kris Jenner in the way that they use their kids for profit and attention, but at least the latter is upfront about being a vulgar exhibitionist, while the former couch their eagerness for fame in faux-modesty and god-talk. The Kardashian-Jenner clan also understand that tabloids getting in your business is part of being a celebrity, something that seems to elude the Duggars, who had no problem using the media to shill for Bill Gothard’s “ministry” or giving birth on camera (!), but suddenly insist on their privacy, now that unflattering information is coming out about them.
To make matters worse, Jim Bob and Michelle have enlisted the help of the two married daughters, Jill and Jessa, to issue tearful testimonials about how their brother is not a child molester and how the media is the real villain in this entire sordid tale. While having the details of their abuse picked apart by the world must indeed be difficult, I think that Jill and Jessa must be criticized for continuing to shill for their parents and the Gothard cult. Given what Gothard teaches about sexual abuse, women, and sex, I find it extremely unlikely that any of Josh’s victims received appropriate secular therapy. Based on what I have read about ATI, the victims would have been forced to not only publicly forgive their abuser, whether they felt like it or not, but also shoulder some of the blame for being victimized in the first place. Consequently, it is not unreasonable to think that both have internalized a significant level of misogyny. Also remember that TLC is trying to test the waters for a spin-off show starring Jill, Jessa, and their husbands. These two have a vested financial interest in keeping the Duggar brand going, and both Jill and Jessa continue to be dependent on their parents for their housing and for their husbands’ employment as guest stars on 19 Kids and Counting. Neither Jill or Jessa have any marketable skills or education and have been socialized to believe that women shouldn’t work outside the home (unless you have a reality show, of course), so if there’s no television contract in the horizon, they are going to be plain out of luck, especially if they insist on having baby after baby like their mother.
My hope is that 19 Kids and Counting is permanently canceled and no spin-off materializes. That the Duggars were able to be on TV for ten years with such extreme beliefs suggests to me that one can never be too white or too Christian in America; seriously, if a Muslim family was saying half the things the Duggars have, they would have been accused of being “un-American” and “dangerous” but when the Duggars did it, they were “wholesome.” It’s about time that the Duggars’ defenders and their mainstream enablers understand exactly what kind of “values” their favorite family has been selling for the past decade, and decisively reject them.