Friday, May 29, 2015

They Still Look At The Cover To Read The Book

I'm not the slightest bit surprised by the Duggar situation. Why should I be? I'd love for someone to give me a valid, rational reason why I should be surprised.

First of all, I can't imagine a scenario where a genuinely healthy family, with sound, mature leadership, would invite a reality TV camera crew into every aspect of their lives. These scenarios don't have a good track record, from individuals with shady motivations to others with sinister pasts. Over the last few years they've all imploded spectacularly, one after the other, causing advertisers to flee and their networks to drop them. In other words, to even consider being the subject of a reality show, you're likely already screwed up in some way.

Then, when you consider that the bastions of wisdom behind the foundational ideas the Duggars promote to the public and indoctrinate their children with (Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips) have both imploded amid serious sexual scandals, the math gets much simpler. Seeing as how both of these men have displayed classic characteristics of extreme narcissism, and given their sexual grooming downfalls, one has to wonder how much of a role that played in the development of their ideas on gender, purity, and all things sexual. Were these ideas developed specifically to one day be used to groom young women sexually? It's not out of the realm of possibility. Either way, these ideas on gender and purity, which originated with sexually and emotionally troubled men, have been relentlessly poured into the Duggar kids for their entire lives. It's sad to note that these same ideas (or very similar, almost sibling ideas) are poured into the vast majority of Christian homeschooled kids.

As I wrote here a couple years back...

How are people supposed to be emotionally healthy, and sexually healthy, in an environment where sex goes from the very worst thing a person could EVER do to the most wonderful thing a person can do, and the only thing that changes the dynamic are a few vows, a ring, and a few words from a preacher? That's a recipe for one effed up sex life (pun intended). When the value of a person is determined by whether or not they're "sexually pure" (or even "emotionally pure"), there really are no values - because people have become of no value, with the single exception of their ability to create new people to be indoctrinated.

As a lot of you who know this culture first-hand have said this week, this kind of nonsense likely helped create this problem in the Duggar clan. It would be naive to think this same scenario hasn't played out in countless Christian homeschooling families and been covered up under the shallow religious guise of "forgiveness".

So although I didn't know exactly what the bombshell would ultimately be, given the state they'd need to be in to be a reality TV subject (to even consider it), and given their extremist religious culture, I knew it was a matter of when and not if. No, I wasn't surprised, and I've never even watched their show.

I'm even more troubled to say I wasn't AT ALL surprised by the reaction to the scandal by the people in my world who I would describe as mainstream evangelicals.

Over the last few years, I've painfully surrendered to the reality that I live in a country predominantly populated by naive, low-information people. The less information they can receive, the better. People, in general, will travel outrageous mental distances to avoid cognitive dissonance. They'd rather be informed by their bias and cultural preferences. This is why they only seek out information sources, whether cultural, political, or religious, that confirm what they already believe to be true or desire to be true. Life, all of it, has become a team sport. Cheer for the guy wearing your jersey and jeer the guy in the other jersey, with no real examination of the "why". 

In the past, I've described the image sold by the Christian homeschooling movement as "godly, spit-shined families with smiling faces on perpetual picnics in flowery meadows", and make no mistake, that IS the image they've tried to sell. When the average John or Joan Q. Evangelical from the church down the street, who has no idea about the Christian homeschool movement, no idea about the batshit craziness that lines its halls from cultic authority ideas, to purity, to Quiverfull/Dominionism, to courtship, et cetera, sees that photo, or sees a Duggar family on the screen, they think "These people are on my team! Go them!!!" Tribalism - and they really have no idea what it is they're seeing. None. They don't know that those children have no other option than to smile. That's unnecessary information. All they need to see is the jersey color. All they want to see is the jersey color. Christianity is so desperate for a cultural champion. The one their religion is based on obviously isn't enough.

Prior to last week, I've had only a handful of encounters with Christian people where the Duggars have come up. I quickly say something like, "Those people are nothing like you. You can't even imagine the crazy." In a couple of cases I could tell that trying to go deeper would just be spinning my wheels, but in the rest I've been able to enlighten some folks, especially if they know me and what I went through with the crazies.

When this scandal broke last week, I didn't say anything about it on my social media for a couple of days, mainly because I wanted to offer an informed opinion if I dared offer an opinion. I watched my newsfeed literally blow up with the stupid and the inhumane. I say inhumane because to devalue the victims in this case (or any other), to minimize their experience and trauma, is the same as offering their well-being as a sacrifice on the altar of your cultural god, and I saw a ton of that. Nobody seemed to give a shit about the girls (who were most likely very, very young at the time it occurred) or how what happened might really mess them up emotionally and sexually (and perhaps has), or what baggage it'll cause them to take into their marriages, and worst case, force their future children to bear the weight. Nobody cared that no one involved would ever get proper, professional counseling. That would require them to stop blindly cheering for the jersey long enough to get off their intellectually lazy asses and actually learn something - such as, any future mental or emotional baggage these girls might have manifest from this would be treated as a sin problem, on THEIR part, because they don't believe in mental illness or things like PTSD.

What I saw, from people who have no freakin' clue how crazy the beliefs of the Duggars are, were defenses of their cultural champions - Josh, Jim Bob, and Michelle - as if they were the victims, when they're anything, ANYTHING but. I saw cries of "PERSECUTION!!!", of liberal political agendas (seriously - that's what finally made me pop). Nary a word expressing concern for the victims from these folk. Not. A. Word.


Christianity in this country - both fundamentalist and mainstream - is SO shallow. SO desperately shallow. And stupid.

And they wonder why I don't identify with them anymore. 


  1. Welcome back - don't be a stranger. You are one of the smartest voices we have.

  2. Dan beat me to it. Ditto what he said. Yours is a voice of reason -- hope you don't wait so long to write another post.

  3. I knew all I needed to know about the Duggars' wholesome lifestyle when I found out that their parenting manual is To Train Up a Child. Those children have been beaten since infancy. Beaten for crawling in the wrong direction, beaten for being curious, beaten for not smiling on command, beaten for not jumping to like a freshly minted graduate of boot camp. I do not care what euphemism for beating children their parents use to disguise what they did. The Pearls advocate beating babies and children for any and every tiny deviation from robotic and endlessly cheerful compliance with their parents' every little whim. Even a child's choice of which toy to play with is liable to corporal punishment. Michael Pearl gleefully describes setting up a situation that is bound to tempt a curious, impulsive toddler to do something naughty, then hiding nearby in order to leap out and beat him!

    And that is only one facet of the ball of screwed-upness that is the Duggar children's upbringing. When I found out that Josh Duggar is a child molester, I wasn't surprised. Sickened, but not surprised.

    Jenny Islander

  4. Having been fondled in my sleep multiple times decades ago by my older brother (who was also 14 at the time), I wonder what the odds are that creep boy Josh also sexually molested his younger sisters. Pretty high I'll bet. But we will never know because that bat shit crazy family would have covered it up tight as a drum. It's all about protecting the family's lily white image and "Christian forgiveness."

  5. Well, we've been a Christian Homeschool family for years. We were disgusted and horrified to hear the news of this. My heart completely goes out to those girls. I hope and pray the show never goes back on. I've never seen it but have seen enough clips to have no interest. I've got four sons here and just the thought that people think that this could be a typical thing that a 14 yr. old could do is crazy and sick. No it's not! Now I've read tonight that the parents are going to share their heart about all of this. I am honestly not sure what to think about that. It might actually be a good thing for parents to listen to so they don't make the same stupid mistakes but I'm just not sure. It could be pretty sickening too! First thing one of my grown sons said when he heard the news of this was,"Why would they put their family out there like this when they knew this was a problem?"

    They should have gotten them all the help they needed.

  6. Actually, those of you familiar with this bizarre way of life, is it possible the minor girls who were the victims are Josh's sisters?? With the strict separation of the sexes and constant chaperoning present in Quiverfull homes, how would Jish have even been in the home of another family with young girls overnight??? Isn't that pretty much impossible? Maybe that's why no police reports were ever filed -- because Jim Bob and Michelle didn't file them. No formal complaints from the victims, no police reports.

  7. The reason this story blew up all over the Web is that there is a police report. The unredacted copy has been destroyed. The redacted copy was requested by In Touch Weekly (a tabloid, but even tabloids occasionally publish real news) under the Freedom of Information Act and posted online. Unfortunately, the redactor didn't do a thorough job. While the names were blacked out, the report specifies that four of the five victims lived with their parents, James Robert and Michelle Duggar, at the time of the incidents.

    Five daughters lived at home when these crimes were committed. I think it is cruel and skeevy to speculate on exactly which ones were targeted by their molester brother, but it's very clear from the report that four of the victims were Duggars.

    Jenny Islander

  8. Jenny, thanks for the clarification. How absolutely tragic for the Duggar girls. I can say from my own experience of being molested by my older brother, repeatedly, when I was only 12 and 13 years old that it is an experience that words cannot adequately describe. I was fortunate that the abuse didn't go further, but it still left a permanent mark on me, and I can hardly stand to be around my brother to this day and I'm now 54 years old. Also, I think it's entirely possible that none of the Duggar girls got *proper* counseling from a trained therapist. The story I read says that Josh was sent off to do hard work (did he get any proper counseling?) but from what I know of the Quiverfull movement, therapy and counseling by "outsiders" is shunned, with any "counseling" being done by church elders (who are unlikely to be a licensed therapist).

    It's heartbreaking. And then these girls are expected to be ready, willing and enthusiastic sex partners on their wedding night. So sad.

    1. Oh, it gets worse.

      The Duggars are followers of Bill Gothard. Gothard is a known sexual predator. Gothard wrote the counseling materials that are to be used in cases of molestation. If you really want to know more, scans of his counseling instructions are posted here:

      If you would rather not throw up, here's the takeaway: Victim-blaming and sweeping under the rug. Gee. Color me surprised.

      Jenny Islander