Published on May 27th, 2015 | by Richard Black2
Let’s Really Discuss the Duggars
If you’re looking for a cheap joke about the Duggar’s you’d best move on. I have nothing lighthearted to write about the family and Josh in particular. Under normal circumstance I’d toss in a quip here and continue on with a satirical piece about an incestuous family living in Arkansas but I can’t. This is a serious issue and, as such, requires its due.
I am disgusted by the recent discoveries regarding the Duggar family and I can write without hyperbole that they revolt and trouble me to my core. The abuse of any minor is abhorrent and one of a sexual nature infinitely so. To be the victim of sexual abuse perpetrated by a member of one’s family, by the very person whom one should be able trust, is one of the grossest violations I can imagine.
For the next few pages I’ll attempt to delineate between my own opinions, what I suspect or believe, and the facts as I understand them. I have my biases when it comes to the Duggar’s. It’s impossible to write about them and not mention religion. I find the family’s interpretation of the bible to be narrow, shallow and self serving but they have the right to worship as they choose. I take issue with the manner in which they have gone forth and multiplied. I find it to be incompatible with my worldview but more importantly, and as a parent, I do not believe that it is possible for two parents to effectively tend to and raise nineteen children in this day and age.
From my understanding the facts are these: During the ages of 14 and 15 Josh Duggar molested five minors some of whom were his sisters. Eventually Josh Duggar’s assaults were made aware to his parents who, at some point, removed Josh from the household for a summer to work with his uncle.
Beyond that anything else I have to write is conjecture and assumption.
Precisely when Jim and Michelle became aware of their son’s actions and what, if any, “measures’ they took to rectify the situation other than sending Josh away for the summer are unknowns.
At best, at the very best interpretation of the incidents, Josh Duggar molested a girl, perhaps his sister, who then notified her parents of the violation. The Duggar’s then dealt with the situation ineptly before more of his predations became apparent at which point he was temporarily removed from the household.
At the very worst Josh Duggar molested five girls, two of whom were his siblings, each of whom notified an adult or the Duggars after each assault. The Duggars then willfully ignored their son’s behavior until they felt threatened enough to remove Josh from the Duggar home for one summer. This is, I feel compelled to mention, is the best case of the worst case scenario. While Josh perpetrated assaults on five different children these were probably not one time events. The tallies are most likely higher in frequency as are the number of victims but that is my own belief. The truth lies somewhere in between these scenarios although neither paints a particularly sympathetic picture of the Duggar’s.
I don’t believe that Jim and Michelle Duggar are inherently evil because of their religious convictions. I’m not even certain that they are horrible people. At best they are misguided but earnest Christians. At worst they are money grubbing hypocrites who were willing to hide a sexual predator’s assaults for pride or financial gain.
In my own opinion and given my understanding on how the Duggars have raised their family, in context with their religious beliefs, contact between the sexes, even holding hands, was forbidden until engagement. Kissing a member of the opposite sex was an act of affection only to take place during the wedding ceremony. This is, and again in my opinion, a situation ripe for sexual dysfunction and inappropriate behavior.
Under the best of circumstances Josh Duggar, living in an environment in which sex was taboo and never discussed, did not understand that his actions were inappropriate. At worst Josh is a sexual predator and one who took full advantage of the system of belief in which he was raised by molesting five girls who were raised to be subservient to men, particularly their male elders.
Again the truth most likely lies somewhere in between but neither scenario absolves Josh or his parents from their actions. I assume that at the very least Jim or Michelle Duggar had one conversation with their son for the reasons surrounding his temporary removal from the home. However inept or shortsighted the very fact that they took any action seems to imply that Josh’s parents were at least aware that he was acting inappropriately. Whether it was due to their religious beliefs, the inherent difficulty of properly tending to a household with more than enough children to field an iron man football team, negligence or some more nefarious motive is beyond even my ability to posit.
The facts again, are these. Five girls were violated at least two of whom were assaulted by their brother. Jim and Michelle Duggar, sent Josh to live with his uncle for a summer to build homes as either penance or a stop gap measure to remove him from his sisters.
The fact that there were five victims is, in my opinion, compelling enough for me to conclude that Josh’s activities were not simply the result of youthful curiosity. I also find the fact that this information is coming to light after the statute of limitations has expired to be remarkably convenient and, at the very least, that Jim and Michelle Duggar were more concerned about their son’s well being than his victims. And that is where I would have finished my thoughts on the matter. Last night however I had the opportunity to speak with a good friend about the Duggars and, as I ranted, I was posed with a question:
“Richard let’s say that you had two children, a boy and a girl, and the son was older by five or even ten years. What would you do if you’re daughter came to you and said that she was molested by your son?”
The question literally stopped me in my tracks.
What would I do?
Initially the answer seemed easy. I’d attempt to validate her accusations but how could I do so in a manner that wasn’t leading or implicative that my daughter had done something wrong? I’d ask her to show me where she was touched, look for signs that force had been used and tell her that, outside of her mother or her father, no one is allowed to touch her without her consent. I would ask her if this had happened before and emphasize that she had done nothing wrong yet knowing that I might have to reassure her of that fact for weeks, month, perhaps even years to come.
I would separate my daughter from her brother. I would ask my son, as nonchalantly as possible, if he had ever touched his sister and where and make it abundantly clear that he is never to touch her in that way or anyone else without their consent knowing that he may already misconstrue what “consent” might mean.
I would never leave him alone with my daughter or any minor and I would watch his every interaction with any member of the opposite sex regardless of age. I would have my son evaluated by a psychologist with an expertise in this field and, if he were determined to be a sexual predator, I’m not really sure what I’d do.
Other than incarceration there aren’t many options regarding where to place a sexual predator, psychopath or anyone else who can’t take care of themselves and preys upon others. “Let them get arrested and go to prison” is generally the advice that’s given. There used to be homes run by the government to tend to these people, most often they were terrible places, and all but a handful were finally discontinued. If properly run and regulated I believe that places like them could serve a legitimate function.
Regarding my hypothetical son the sexual predator and given my options in this day and age I’m still not sure what I would do. I’ve given the matter quite a bit of thought and can only surmise that my daughter’s safety would be first and foremost in any decision I would make. I would instruct her on how to lock her door, to never be left alone with her brother. I would most likely install motion sensors in my boy’s room as well as my daughter’s. Beyond that I would have to wait on an expert’s advice as how to continue.
One assault is one too many. Two is indicative of a pattern of behavior and if that were to ever occur I would never forgive myself or my son. Crimes of this nature, and they are crimes, have no statute of limitations for their victims nor should they for their perpetrators.
For the people clamoring for the Duggar’s blood I thoroughly and wholeheartedly agree that Jim, Michelle and Josh should be held accountable but not because of their religious beliefs. Sexual assault is a crime perpetrated regardless of religious beliefs or political stance. There are conditions however, conditions I believe that the Duggar parents created through their beliefs, that made it easy for them to ignore or fail to notice Josh’s assaults. Precisely how the insular nature of their family and theology played a part in their son’s actions is, quite frankly, beyond the scope of my conjecture. Before you judge them too harshly however, and they deserve to be judged, I would ask you to consider what you would do if placed in a similar situation.
For those defending the Duggars their choices and Josh in particular I hope that your words are not simply a measure of blind solidarity, that they are legitimate and that you have also considered what you would do if this situation were to arise within your own family. Finally it is all well and good for you to forgive the Duggars but, in my humble opinion, forgiveness is not yours to give. The only people who can forgive Josh Duggar for his assaults are his victims and whether they chose to do so is entirely up to them.