I confess I’m watching the implosion of the Duggar family wholesomeness with keen interest. My husband is an inveterate channel flipper, and he often lands on “19 Kids and Counting” just to mess with me. “NOOOO! Not the Christian wackos!” My creepdar goes off the charts every time Jim Bob appears with his fatherly hair helmet and that Qualude stare of patriarchal benevolence. (Shudder) I can’t wrestle the TV controller away fast enough.
But the one that really freaks me out is the mother Michelle with the sing-song Romper Room voice…
What is that? Who speaks in that mommy-meets-Minnie-Mouse lilt? I know she’s been surrounded by small children for two decades, but what ate her brain?
(Sotto smiley voice) “Each day, after I teach the first 13 to fold their laundry into tidy squares, we have a precious Bible study together over home-grown radishes. Jinger just loves the book of Ezekiel! She claps her pink, little hands together and cries, ‘More prophets, mommy, more!’ That child just loves the Lord.”
Yeah, right, Michelle. I only raised one kid, not 19, but I can tell you it’s not all precious moments. I don’t know how you keep your clan in starched dirndl skirts and khakis, like some theocratic wet dream of Jesus Jungen, but the kids I know are all hideously imperfect. They fart in church, make sticky messes at the dinner table, have the hygiene of goats, and speak fluent snark. Being in the presence of four children simultaneously makes me feel like I installed a bowling alley in my head. I can’t imagine the cacophony of 19. You’re either strung out on Xanax, or you’re a fraud, Michelle.
Well, this week we know which it is — the Duggars squeaky clean image wasn’t all that. Their son Josh admitted to molesting four of his sisters and a family friend when he was 14. The family didn’t report it for a year. He kept molesting them. Finally they sent him to “treatment”, which turned out to be working on friend’s construction crew for a few months in Little Rock. Then he came home, and a cop friend (who is now serving a 54 year sentence for child pornography) gave him a “stern talking to.” (Can you imagine how that went down? “Look son, if you’re going to wank off around the underaged, clear your browser history first.”) The church elders prayed on it. He got to keep living at home, around little kids. And he was engaged at 18, and married off by 20, and now has children of his own.
Oh yeah, and they got a reality TV show to broadcast their wholesome Christian values.
For those of you not in the U.S., “19 Kids and Counting” is a cable TV show about the Duggars, who are part of a splinter Baptist church and adherents of the Christian patriarchy movement, which apparently the Duggars observed by dressing like you were frumpy in 1989. (Prairie skirts and poofy big hair).
How do you afford so many children (or as Michelle refers to them “her flowers”)? Have the TLC network build you a house! And film every baptism, wedding, and chaste courtship.
If your flowers were deflowered by their brother? Hey, you’re good because you prayed over that before you signed the deal.
To make this all the more galling, the forgiven
molester kid had a job at the Family Resource Council speaking out about the evils of the gay “lifestyle,” abortion, and women’s rights. He resigned from his job yesterday.
I’m sure we’ll have a lot to discuss in the comments about hypocrisy and impression management, but to me the most startling thing about his scandal is the enormous amount of spackle the Duggars and their church community applied to the criminal transgression of child molestation. Where else have we seen an emphasis on quick forgiveness over the consideration of the victims?
The best thing I’ve read on this scandal is this blog article with what we should do about sexual abuse when it happens in our communities. Essentially — DEAL, don’t spackle.