I haven’t been writing. This is pathetic, I should write, I can write, but I haven’t been. The near 1000 mile move took a lot of commitment from my family and I. We are seeking to make a better and stronger family from this move and thus far it has been working. My indignation and fear of the unknown have slowly melted away in this new verdant land I call home. The unfamiliarity of place still exists, but now it truly is an adventure here. Enough hemming with subjects unrelated, I shall make my points known because I see a lot of things going on that are foolish, trite, and genuinely disgusting.
In the interest of full disclosure, I spent 14 years in the general vicinity of the Ozarks where the Duggars live. I am not a Christian (obvious to anyone that has either a.) spent time around me, or b.) read my words here). I do not believe in the institution of religion, I do not believe that any of the power it offers can be used responsibly or well, but I do not believe that Christianity alone should have the largest target. Atheism does not equal anti-Christian. Atheism means anti-religion, all of them without prejudice for the one in which a particular person was raised.
This post is generated based off the internet rumor and later omission of guilt by the young Mr. Duggar. Obviously, if you’ve seen the news, you’ve heard about it; however, when I see the following from a Facebook post:
“People need to lay off the Duggar family..yes he made a mistake as all Christians do. He was 14 people…I’m
Not saying it’s right but his family handled it the way they thought it should be handled. He has come out and admitted it and apologized and asked for forgiveness. Let that family be” (sic)
Or even better, the entirety of Chris Martin’s article. The rhetoric in use by supporters is violently disgusting, so let’s take the opposite perspective. Morality does not exist as it is culturally created, therefore, we will not necessarily be discussing anything to do with regard to morals here. This is about ethics and society.
To take the above Facebook quote, which is indicative of a number of people that which to believe in the family’s right to their religious expression, we condense the situation down to a simple commentary on the idea of Christianly failings. This individual made a mistake, therefore, he asked forgiveness of his sins, and in his faith in Christ these were absolved. While these are the basic tenets of the commentary, what the author misses is simple: sexual abuse, regardless of age, are a trope of power. They are an assertion of will and control over another person. Regardless of the morality of the “mistake” and the askance of “forgiveness,” this is ethically incompatible with the desires of the justice system to document and monitor those with a predisposition to sexual violence. Sexual abuse is a crime that is profoundly larger than any mistake. Because of its unethical weight, the individual that professes this a simple mistake is either missing the point or is obfuscating facts.
Given Joshua Duggar’s age at the time, it is highly likely that he “grew out” of this phase of his life. This is the implication of reminding of his tender age of 14. It appears that this phase lasted from, at least, age 14 through 16, based on the researched timeline in this article. At the very least, Joshua Duggar could have been tried as an adult for his aggressive actions. Further, he could have been tried as a juvenile. Either way, he would have been subject to the Arkansas Crime Information System database as a sexual predator and his particular desires would have been noted in case of future allegations made against him. According to the number of victims, the severity of abuse (which I do not know), and other factors, Joshua Duggar could have faced upwards of 20 years in jail for his crimes if charged as an adult. Regardless, based off his actions, Mr. Duggar is a criminal who never faced justice. Further, he never was recorded or monitored as a sexual predator. Utilitarians (what most Christian faiths and social justice warriors espouse) could not have been satisfied with this: based off the number of complaints, the timeframes in which the abuse occurred, and the general fact that this information was kept secret, it is possible there were victims whose abuse could have been prevented if they had access to this knowledge. In other words, the general public’s health and happiness was put at risk by the selfishness of this specific family’s desire to protect their son. This is unethical.
Being a parent, personally, I know he desire to wish to protect and love my child like nothing else in this world before me. However, behavior choices and actions have consequences. Those consequences must be paid. It is unacceptable to attempt to exploit and hide the behavior of your family through connections you have made in the local governments. This is being accountable to Caesar, as Christ as his people to do.
“He has come out and admitted it and apologized and asked for forgiveness.” I do not need to forgive him. He did not wrong me. Forgiveness is between his victims, himself, and his god. However, I can say that now he represents, to me, a person that symbolizes violence, sexual perversion, and exploitation of the system to his favor. As a larger result, his family does the same to me as his parents aided and abetted this behavior, had knowledge of it but did not inform anyone as to the dangers of their son, and then used their personal connections and clout to hide it under the rug. Further, they lied about sending Joshua Duggar to counseling for his behavior.
To continue in the cynosure of words that this has become, Mr. Martin wrote an article in which he criticized reality TV and pop culture; however, I take exception with a few of his arguments:
1.) Twelve years ago, Josh Duggar screwed up?
2.) He crossed a line by sexually molesting girls. That is an unforgivable sin. It’s not like he told a lie or took something from the office that belonged to the company;
3.) Christian celebrities are held to a much higher standard because we all say they should know better. When they screw up, we are so quick to judge.
To counter one and two, which I have taken a bit of context here by not including his questions regarding the status of the Duggars as humans, is simple. “Screwed up?” This is what sexual abuse, which is an assertion of power, will, and authority, is condensed to by Mr. Martin’s words. How fitting a pun to describe his own words about the situation. This gentle amelioration of the actions of Mr. Duggar condenses it down to a Mayberry-esque, “aw shucks” moment.
Barney: “Hey, Andy, uh…. got something to talk to you ’bout.”
Andy: “Yeah, Barn’?”
Barney: “Well, girl down the street said Opie snuck into the room and touched her.”
Andy: “Aww, well, he’s just screwed up, hadn’t he?”
I doubt that really would have been script, but that’s what comes to mind immediately. This description entirely eviscerates the concerns of the victims. It also reminds that it happened 12! years ago. The timeline shows 8-12 years previous, but that’s beside the point, right? The article later asks the following question:
“For those of you who say “once a pedophile, always a pedophile,” you are basically saying God is incapable of changing a heart.”
Scentific work regarding pedophilia has demonstrated a large percentage of offenders who continually commit crimes and no cure or treatment has completely alleviated pedophilia. Mr. Martin is right that people CAN change, but the efforts are herculean in these cases. Further, pedophilia arises in pubescence, approximately the time frames in which Mr. Duggar began his actions. Further, given this, it is highly possible that Joshua Duggar has a personality disorder associated with these behaviors that potentially went untreated for years or perhaps even still. How effective and Christian are the Duggars as parents that do not take their son to a physician to discuss these issues, submit him to psychological testing to aid him with these behavior, and generally subjecting their daughters to their son’s personality problems. They can be judged by the failures to comply with the ethics and morality they defined for themselves. If so family intensive, why then was this not taken head on and cured?
Christian celebrities are held to a much higher standard because they put it on themselves, but documenting their faiths heavily. A connection would be say, Tim Tebow, a terrible professional quarterback, but an amazing college quarterback (note I can still be wrong about this, depending on how he fares with the Eagles). NFL evaluators fairly described him as a quarterback with a weak arm, poor mechanics, and an inability to read defenses — this was a fair commentary; however, Mr. Tebow also liked attempting to provide something to people at each home game, he tried to tirelessly meet with fans and well-wishers, and use them as a chance to witness his faith — this became an unfairly described personality fault by NFL evaluators. Christian or not, Mr. Tebow is great PR for his team because of his requests, but his incessant need to attempt to fulfill them to expand his ministry has angered people in the NFL. This additional level of ethical and moral attachment offers a ready made base of fans, but when actions of the public believer demonstrate their failures to adhere to their own expressed values, their condemnation comes far quicker than the rest.