Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Duggars Speak Out: Victims? What Victims? The Duggar Story and the Gospel

The Duggars just don't get it, do they? The fact is, they can't get it, because they live in a little countercultural bubble of religious truth that trumps all other truths from the world outside their bubble, the world in which the rest of us poor sinners live — a world that is, to their certain knowledge, going to hell in a handbasket. They and their kind do not answer to the authorities of that world, the one in which the rest of us live. They answer to another authority hidden to those of us going to hell.

As Todd VanDerWerff notes, Andy Dehnart captures what might be the most jaw-dropping moment in Jim Bob and Michelle's interview last evening (by the way, where was Josh, who's an adult, as his parents spoke for him?): 

It wasn't the sexual molestation of the minor Duggar daughters that victimized them. It's the fact that the media have learned of that molestation and made us talk about it that is victimizing the Duggar daughters. That's victimization.

As Salon sums up the most horrifying statements made by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar last evening, Salon ends with that claim of Michelle's: Michelle tells Megyn Kelly, "[T]hey’ve been [i.e., her daughters have been] victimized more by what has happened in these last couple [of] weeks than they were 12 years ago."

As the Salon staff also note, pointing to tweets that lit up the Twitterverse as the interview took place,  Lisa Bloom notes that the approach of the Duggar parents to the molestation of their daughters by their son reveals stunning ignorance about the most elementary facts re: child abuse and how it should be handled: 

As Judd Legum notes, that ignorance was on full display in Jim Bob Duggar's repeated assertions that what his son did to his daughters was not, after all, so bad. It was a curious boy doing what curious boys always do.

The daughters: just not there to be seen or thought about as Josh takes center stage to be defended and excused. You'll be relieved to know, though, that the Duggars did, however, take precautions on behalf of their daughters when they learned that their son had repeatedly molested several of them: as Lisa Bloom also tweeted last evening, 

Remember, folks: it's the gays and the trans folks who are the problem. Let's not lose sight of reality as we discuss these matters.

To update you on where we are with the Duggar  story on the morning after Jim Bob and Michelle appeared on national television in Megyn Kelly's interview: as David Badash reported yesterday, on the eve of the interview, In Touch, the entertainment magazine that first aired the 2006 police report detailing (some of) Josh Duggar's abuse of minor girls including his sisters, published another article releasing information from yet another 2006 police report. As Badash points out, this new police report is even more damning than the previous one: it reveals that the public statements made by Josh Duggar and his parents following the publication of the previous report strayed from the truth.

The most damning detail in the latest police report: 

Josh Duggar confessed to his father Jim Bob Duggar on THREE separate occasions to multiple acts of sexual molestation against his sisters and a family friend, according to a new police report obtained exclusively by In Touch magazine.


"The document also makes clear that Josh was 15 years old when he molested his 5-year-old sister and committed at least SEVEN acts of sexual molestation," In Touch adds.

In case you missed the mind-boggling point David Badash just made about this latest report, here's Jenny Kuttner underscoring the most salient item to think about:

Josh Duggar confessed three times to sexually assaulting his sisters — and his parents still did nothing. New reports reveal how far Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar went to cover up their son's abusive behavior. Just when it seemed the details of Josh Duggar’s admitted sexual assault couldn’t get worse, the story has become more horrifying.

And so now, understandably, the Duggars are involved in some hot and heavy image management: as David Badash reported yesterday, they've hired a p.-r. expert, Chad Gallagher, a "longtime advisor" to the Duggars' friend and defender GOP presidential candidate Rev. Mike Huckabee, to do damage control for them. As both Max Brantley and Ernest Dumas reminded readers of the Arkansas Times recently, the Republican establishment in Arkansas, from Huckabee through Judge Stacey Zimmerman, a friend of the Huckabees and Duggars who ordered the expunging of police records about Josh Duggar's molestation of his sisters, have closed ranks around the Duggars. 


Not a single Republican colleague has chastised either [Justin] Harris or Duggar. Indeed, Republicans have risen to defense of both men. One condemned the Arkansas Times to hell for writing about the Harris "rehoming" case. Another Republican senator has angrily denounced the reports on the serial molestation and demanded a police investigation of how it happened. The capper is tonight. Fox News' Megyn Kelly has been given exclusive access to Duggar parents in the home where molestation has occurred to show how THEY have been wronged by reports on the case. 
Victims? What victims?


When Josh Duggar of "19 Kids and Counting" television fame was finally exposed for molesting little girls when he was a teenager, Huckabee and other Republicans, including Arkansas lawmakers, came to his defense. No punishment was warranted, they said. Josh apologized for what he did to the little girls, so we should simply forgive him and let the show go on and Josh get on with his good material life. 
But what would Huckabee have said if Josh had molested little boys and if Josh and his parents were not big Huckabee supporters. 
You know the answer."

(On the Justin Harris story, see Leah Mickens.)

And so back to my opening statement: the Duggars just don't get it, and they can't get it, because they inhabit a defensive, hermetically sealed culture bubble apart from the rest of us, a bubble actively protected by people like Rev. Huckabee and his tea party colleagues who now control state government in places like Arkansas. These folks are all about carving out special exemptions for "people of faith" to live above and apart from the rest of us, as they consign the rest of us to hell.

They're all about proclaiming the superiority of God's law (admittedly,  God's law as they understand it and not as you and I do) over "man's" law — as in a judicial ruling which finds that gay citizens of the U.S. should enjoy the same civil rights that every other citizen enjoys. Because Constitution.

When one lives inside a defensive culture bubble that has absolute truth (and God) on its side, one cannot and should not be bothered by piddling little mundane details like laws requiring those with knowledge of the sexual molestation of a minor to report said molestation to the police. Those are manmade laws.

The Duggars are, in short, where the U.S. is now headed, unless someone somewhere stops the rolling forth of the tea party agenda in one statehouse after another and in the federal Congress. Because that agenda is all about giving cover to people like the Duggars, with their claim that their peculiar religious warrants, beliefs, and laws trump all other laws, the ones that bind the rest of us poor hellbound fools.

The Duggars and this theocratic tea party agenda are what Judge Antonin Scalia is all about when he suddenly rules that the religious beliefs of an employee must take precedence over rules imposed on that employee by the firm or organization for which she or he works. This agenda is what Judge Scalia and the other Supreme Catholic men were all about in their Hobby Lobby ruling, which judged that the religious beliefs of corporations construed as persons can most certainly be imposed on employees of corporations who do not share those religious beliefs.

Because religious liberty.

In culture bubbles that think this way, it's entirely understandable that, as Judd Legum points out, the Duggars and people like them do not want to answer any searching questions about how they have arrived at such . . . well, odd . . . religious positions, which pretend that little girls who are sexually abused by their older brothers are not victims of abuse, while it's the brother who is victimized when the media expose him and his hypocrisy after he has spent several years spreading the message that it's gay people who are a threat to children. They can't answer such questions, since those questions are coming from the enemy — from the secular media, the liberal Mafia, the demon-possessed LGBT community that is intent on tearing Christianity down to its foundations. 

But as Billy Graham's grandson Boz Tchividjian, who has blown the whistle on the considerable sexual abuse of minors hidden in the seamy unlit corners of the right-wing evangelical culture the Duggars and their defenders occupy, rightly asks, if evangelicalism is all about preaching the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, to the world, where on earth is the gospel in the Duggar story? Where is there any good news at all for victims of childhood sexual abuse in such ugly sagas of cover-up, blame-passing, and reality-denying which excuse the actions of male molesters of minors and ignore the effects of childhood sexual molestation on the female victims of those molesters?

Who is the gospel for, if it's all about excusing Josh Duggar and his parents, while ignoring the girls Josh molested? What good news?

(I'm grateful to the latest NSAC News email newsletter for the link to the Boz Tchividjian statement about the Duggar story.)

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