Thursday, June 4, 2015
Getting the Duggar Interview out of My System
It's easy enough for me, not being a parent, to snipe. But the interview revealed certain things (Salon uses the term "horrifying"--which only seems sensational until you think about the context) that make me genuinely wonder what they think they are sheltering their children from. Because among the things they actually said out loud where people could hear is that they compared notes with other families and what Josh Duggar did wasn't that bad.
I am assuming they did not join a support group, where one might expect to find people with similar experiences, but they just happen to be around people who have their kids feeling up on each other. Their homeschooling mentor Bill Gothard was a serial sexual harasser and the law enforcement officer they turned to to give their son a stern talking-to was deep into the child porn.
Do these people know anyone with a healthy concept of sexual boundaries?
A lot of the things they were saying kind of sounded like they were ameliorations they were telling themselves to make things not seem as bad. The girls were mostly asleep. They didn't even know what was happening. Josh came forward on his own. I'm not sure how convincing that really sounds to me. (The babysitter that was inappropriately touched did not know what happened to her--that doesn't even make sense!) They basically lied all over the place about how it was "taken care of"--it wasn't "taken care of" right away--the boy felt up five young girls, on several occasions. Their solution--to change the ground rules to where the boy Duggars couldn't have their sisters on their laps, where the boys could not babysit their younger siblings, and they could not play hide and seek--are appalling in that they presume that this inappropriate touching was simply going to happen if the boys (not just Josh) had an opportunity--and they were not able to teach them not to do that and to respect their little sisters' bodies without such ground rules.
As if "boys will be boys" and that necessarily means inappropriate touching. It seems to me to be a lousy message to send to those young males that self-control was not expected of them.
It also seems to me that an opportunity was wasted to properly inform all the children about what we sometimes call "good touch/bad touch". It troubles me when they use phrases like "our son violated God's principles" when what he violated was other people's bodies. The actual idea that those bodies are not to be touched because they are other people's bodies is hidden behind a more-vague and less-instructive idea of "because God says so."
I'm sure, faced with the possible loss of their show, the Duggars feel like they are being "punished" and that the criticism they are facing is unfair. Still, blaming journalists for reporting what happened and looking to sue the person who leaked the police report (which was not a sealed juvenile record at all, but obtained under a perfectly lawful information request) seems like an exercise in blame-shifting, and a damned unhelpful one.
I don't think this interview was helpful, but the upcoming interview Friday with the sisters (who are called victims even if the Duggar parents don't consider what happened either child molestation or rape--by the strict legal definitions) is likely to be more disturbing still. Jim Bob Duggar said that he believed that the victims should get to tell their own stories, not have the tabloids tell it for them--but I feel skeptical about how their story will be presented. This isn't about telling their truth--this feels like a PR campaign and I genuinely wonder how they feel about having to get their story out there within a certain news cycle window to try and make their whole family a bit sympathetic again.
From my POV, it stinks. (Note, of course--they will be interviewed. Not Josh. Whatever he had to say for himself, I guess his parents have said.)