Thursday, June 4, 2015

I'm Still Not Done Writing About Josh Duggar

Er, well, at least about Josh directly.

This is about the Fox News interview that Jim Bob and Michelle did with Megyn Kelly (the same journalist who felt the overwhelming need to tell America's children that Santa can only be white, because, well, if Santa were black, or Latino, or Asian, well, the magic fabric that dreams are made of would crumble or somesuch...hey, I report, you decide).

And look, I get that they feel like, and even that their daughters might feel like, their family has been more victimized in the past couple of weeks than when Josh's abuse all went down.  That's a question of how they personally feel, and it isn't my place to invalidate that.

But when you put yourself out in the public sphere, scrutiny comes with the territory.  The Duggars' show, 19 and Counting, went on the air in September of 2008, five or six years after Josh's sexual abuse of his sisters and other women.

Instead of lamenting that the media discovered this news through actual investigative journalism (which is, after all, the media's job), start with asking yourselves why, as parents, you elected to expose your children to the public eye knowing full well that this was (is) a part of their story and experience.

I'm not a parent, and as such, I tend to be extremely reticent to ever offer parenting advice to anyone, but I have seen enough instances of parents taking advantage of their kids to know what that looks like.  It's like obscenity: there may not be a standardized definition of it, but you know it when you see it.

And I saw it in full display in the words that spilled forth like some sort of cringeworthy, cascading waterfall of whitewashing and excuse making from the tongues of Jim Bob and Michelle.

Amid said avalanche of minimizing, they said, and this is a direct quote, "It's not rape or anything like that."

Let's pause for effect for a moment, shall we?

Okay, when your defense of your son is, "Hey, at least he didn't rape anyone," it is much more honest to admit the gravity of what he did and that you screwed up by whitewashing it, not by trying to minimize the experiences of molestation victims (aka me) by basically saying to us, "Be grateful; it could have been worse."

This is the problem with Christians oversheltering themselves: we become so out of touch with common morality that when it finally catches up to us like the tortoise passing the hare, we end up getting smacked clean in the face by it.  Jim Bob and Michelle have so cloistered not only their kids but themselves as well that they seem to genuinely believe that what happened was not a violation of the bodily vessels God made for us, and that the real threat to children remains transgender people, because "it's common sense." (Again, that's a direct quote from the interview.)

We do this across the board, mind you.  Only 38 percent of us say we personally know a Muslim.  Only 9 percent of us say we personally know someone who is transgender...which honestly probably explains a lot of the vitriol directed by conservative Christians at Caitlyn Jenner even though she has said she in fact identifies as both conservative and Christian herself.

And Jim Bob and Michelle did it not just with their kids, but with their interview explaining all this: by sitting down with the house organ of conservative media, Fox News, rather than any other news outlet that might ask some tougher questions.  Megyn Kelly, to her credit, did in fact some serious and responsible questions, but she also lobbed some serious softballs at the pair, questions that were clearly designed to allow them to deflect blame onto the media for digging into their past and specifically into the sexual abuse by Josh.

Jim Bob and Michelle may well feel like they are taking it on the chin in the media, and I respect that, but they need to remember that they brought this on themselves by so blatantly chasing publicity and fame.  My more conservative brethren often remind me that people need to be held accountable for their choices in life, and choosing to chase the spotlight knowing that the spotlight may one day shine on that part of your story was, in fact, a choice.  To my knowledge, nobody threatened Jim Bob and Michelle and said, "You MUST get your family their own reality TV show and make it as big a hit as possible."  They chose this fame for themselves and for their kids.

Unlike the gay, lesbian, and transgender people they demonize, the Duggars chose this lifestyle for themselves.  They are now experiencing one of the potential consequences of that particular lifestyle of fame and public attention.

But, as Jesus says to us, you reap what you sow.

Yours in Christ,

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