OPINION – The conservative Christian right took another blow to the midsection when TLC took the TV show “19 Kids and Counting” off the air amid revelations of child molestation by Josh Duggar, the eldest of the brood.
Now, in itself, the molestation is tragic. However, Duggar, as a representative of the Family Research Council – he was executive director of FRC Action, a nonprofit and tax-exempt legislative arm of the conservative lobbying group – has been a strong advocate of allowing medical workers to refuse to provide certain treatments to their patients such as abortions, blood transfusions or birth control. The FRC also advocates for abstinence-only sex education, intelligent design, prayer in public schools and vigorously opposes same-sex marriage.
In other words, he was the poster boy for the conservative Christian coalition. That was all fine and well for Duggar until a 2006 Springdale, Arkansas, police report detailing the molestation incidents – yes, they were multiple – was unearthed.
The Duggars were interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News last week to, as they put it on their website, “share our hearts with you about the pain that we walked through as a family 12 years ago, the tears we all shed and the forgiveness that was given.”
Well, forgiveness has already been given by one fairly influential guy, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Fox News TV show host and seemingly perpetual presidential candidate.
“No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story,” Huckabee said on his Facebook page. “Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.”
Josh, by the way, also weighed in on the subject, tacking the following message onto his family’s “official” Facebook page:
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”
So, what happened, in essence, is that Daddy Duggar laid out some heavy cash, the cops refused to pursue charges and Josh got off free as a whistle, eventually taking to the soapbox where he now spreads his hypocritical venom in defense of his version of Christian virtue. Until the truth came out, that is, which, rightfully, cast disparaging light on the Duggars, the TV show, TLC and some red-faced members of the FRC.
I mean, are we really expected to take counsel on sexual morality from an admitted pedophile?
And, just because this guy has supposedly made his peace with his God does it mean that he has done so with ours? What about the state of Arkansas? Should the law there just forgive and forget?
It doesn’t work that way.
The thing is, we wouldn’t know much about Josh Duggar at all if TLC hadn’t made him part of one of its cash cow reality shows.
TLC, however, has become a freak show network, with programming that appeals to some bizarre tastes. There was, of course, “19 Kids and Counting,” which has been pulled. But, they also offer “Sister Wives” and “My Five Wives,” shows with definite pro-polygamy stances, and “Sex Sent Me to the ER” and “Strange Sex,” shows about, well, you get the picture. There are also programs about obese people, “little” people, tattooed people, people who hoard and a host of other bizarre programs.
Originally, TLC took to the airwaves as The Learning Channel, but the only lessons being taught now are demeaning.
That’s why although I rarely support boycotts, I am in 100 percent agreement with a statement issued jointly by friends who founded Polygamy.org, Sound Choices Coalition and Voices for Dignity, originally formed to educate and rescue those bound to lives of servitude and degradation as part of polygamous communities.
As a matter of full disclosure, because of my book “plygs,” I have become associated in varying degrees with these groups. However, as a result of my humanity, I have always been associated with human rights, dignity and the rights of children to live lives free of abuse. Neither should disqualify me from sharing the revulsion I feel when discussing these abuses and concerns. I make no apologies, but in the interest of credibility and honesty, believe the declaration is necessary.
“We urge sponsors to discontinue advertising with TLC shows that suppress women’s and children’s rights, or minimize or hide sexual abuse of children,” the statement issued by the three groups states.
It goes on to express “condemnation of TLC’s abandonment of principle in pursuit of profit.”
It also says “there is strong evidence that females raised in highly patriarchal cultures are more vulnerable to these kinds of sexual abuse. In addition, these abuses are more prevalent in cultures where women are required to have large numbers of children and where those children become mini-surrogate parents responsible for raising their own siblings.”
Morality has become a sort of negotiable thing in today’s world. It seems, at times, as if we slice off pieces of it and apply them to those of a certain faith or group while holding others to other standards.
I don’t think that was the plan God had in mind when he created us.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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