News about the model Christian family in my home state of Arkansas, the Duggars, continues to pop so fast and furious that it's hard to keep up with. I appreciate links a number of you good readers have provided to previous threads about the Duggars, who are attracting much attention now that the story of Josh Duggar has become public, because of the way in which they have represented themselves for years now as the model Christian family, and the way in which they have viciously attacked the LGBT community as a threat to children — when Josh Duggar and his parents knew of his molestation of minor girls who appear to have included his own sisters.
Here are some noteworthy developments:
1. Yesterday, the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) put out a media statement about the Duggar story. SNAP is responding to the attempt of Arkansas state senator Bart Hester, who has led the attack on LGBT citizens of Arkansas in the state legislature, to provide cover for his friends the Duggars by calling for the firing of the police chief who released the police report about Josh Duggar's molestation of minors.
A male Arkansas politician claims a female police chief should be fired for releasing a police report about alleged child sex crimes by prominent conservative activist Josh Duggar. . . .
But the politician says nothing about two male officials who also played a role in document’s release.
We’re very skeptical of State Senator Bart Hester's claim that he’s worried about the privacy of Duggar’s alleged victims. We’re not convinced he’s sincere.
Time and time again, we’ve seen officials profess concern over victims’ privacy when their real goal is to preserve predators’ secrecy."
2. As Max Brantley reports for Arkansas Times, several days ago Arkansas judge Stacey Zimmerman, who was appointed by Governor Mike Huckabee to several positions when he was governor of the state (and who has defended the Duggars in the current controversy), ordered that the police reports about Josh Duggar be destroyed.
3. As Scott Eric Kaufman reports yesterday for Salon, Gawker's "Defamer" feature has just published a screenshot of an ad that Jim Bob Duggar, Josh Duggar's father, ran in 2002 as he campaigned (GOP ticket) for the U.S. Senate. The ad states, "Rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes."
As Scott Eric Kaufman observes, "This was the same period in which his son Josh has confessed to having molested his younger sisters."
4. As Dan Savage recently told Chris Hayes in an MNSBC discussion of the Duggar story, what's particularly galling about all of this is that, at the very time the Duggar parents knew full well what had been going on with their son Josh, both they and he did everything in their power to demonize LGBT folks in Arkansas as threats to children when civil rights ordinances protecting LGBT people were coming up for consideration. Savage states,
They want to point a finger at people that they define as the enemies of family or not from or having families of their own: LGBT people, particularly trans people increasingly, with these anti-trans bathroom bills. And that is what the Duggars have dug in on, is attacking trans people and opposing this LGBT civil rights bill in Fayetteville where they were out there arguing that the threat to little girls in Fayetteville were transwomen when they knew, when they were covering for someone who had demonstrated, that he, at least at that age, was a threat to little girls himself.
5. As Amber Phillips notes for Washington Post, the Duggar story now presents a serious problem to the current crop of GOP presidential contenders, since almost every blessed one of them has fallen all over himself (I'm not aware of such a photo-op occasion with Carly Fiorina) to have his photo taken with Josh Duggar.
6. As Jenny Kutner points out for Salon, what must not be overlooked in this sordid Duggar saga is how Josh Duggar's abuse, and his parents' cover-up, and the excuses for all of this now being made by the religious and political right, are rooted in a religious culture of abuse of females to which the Duggars and their defenders are deeply committed. The religious ideology defended by the Duggars and their friends calls on women and girls to submit to men and boys. It routinely excuses even outright abuse, sexual or otherwise, perpetrated on females by males as just how boys behave.
And it does all this by invoking God, as if God is one of the old boys chuckling at the way real men knock women around — or take advantage of them sexually.
Or as Mary Daly famously and prophetically put the point, "If God is male then the male is God."
The Clay Bennett cartoon at the head of the posting is from Truthdig.