When this Duggar news first broke, via InTouch of all outlets, details were scant. All we knew was that, when eldest son Josh was a teenager, his dad Jim Bob turned him into the police after catching him leaving the room of a young girl. This wasn’t easily processable information, given the family’s very publicly weird attitude toward sex. The possibility of Josh Duggar being taken to the police for kissing a girl wasn’t outside the scope of possibility, and I admit I preferred it as a narrative far more than any other.
But, of course, we now know that was not the case. That Josh Duggar molested five girls (that we know of) and that these girls included his sisters.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how to process that information.
The Duggars are hideous garbage humans and always have been, but it’s at least been easy to laugh at them. We can disassociate from the darkness of their awful patriarchal beliefs to laugh at the weird Christians with the weird ideas. This has been a crushing blow to any ability to take them as anything but the unspeakable horror show they truly are.
In their statements, the family continually addresses Duggar’s repeated molestation of young girls as “past teenage mistakes.” Like denting the car or stealing a beer from dad. They are admitting the wrongdoing, but they are also explaining it away as a mistake, a sin, rather than an unfathomable crime that they are all complicit in.
Because this is not just the frankly unimaginable horror of one teenage child molesting his siblings and other children. To truly grasp how awful this is, there’s something you have to understand about the Duggar family: the brothers, including and likely mostly Josh, have control and agency over their sisters by virtue of being male and therefore superior. Including involvement in their dating lives.
From Today last year:
Rule 3: Brothers know best. All of the Duggar boys have been chaperones to Ben and Jessa, even the younger ones who will go along with them to a coffee shop or out to dinner. Jim Bob and Michelle say there is something special about the way brothers size up a potential suitor. “The brothers can see how they treat mom and dad, or see whether they show the sisters respect,” Michelle says, adding that each brother has given Jessa their opinion of Ben.
Really think about that given this new information. These girls, several of whom have been abused by their eldest brother, then had that brother, her abuser, involved in her love life, chaperoning her on dates, given agency over who and how she experiences whatever terrifying version of love these people are forced into anyway.
And that’s the thing that has gut punched me so much. Because it’s been too hard to really examine the ramifications of this kind of “Christianity” or lifestyle until this point and now there is no choice but to really look and really be devastated by the implications. How can these children ever be OK? Any of them. How can these girls ever, ever be alright?
Josh Duggar is a sick individual who did horrific things to children, to his own siblings. But his parents. My god his parents. His parents who did nothing except send him to a family friend’s house instead of counseling:
Jim Bob then “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on.” No one alerted the police or any other law enforcement agency. Instead they decided to send Josh to a “program [that] consisted of hard physical work and counseling. James said that [redacted, Josh] was in the program from March 17, 2003 until July 17, 2003.”
He said the program was a “Christian program.” Michelle Duggar later admitted to police that Josh did not receive counseling and instead had been sent during that time to a family friend who was in the home remodeling business.
His parents who didn’t report this for more than a year.
The alleged victims all described a consistent scenario of Josh touching their breasts and genitals and later apologizing. They said Jim Bob was aware of the situation and did not go to authorities for more than a year.
His parents who thought an apology was enough.
The Duggars told police that Josh “apologized” to the female minors and that they had “forgiven” him.
His parents who took him for “a stern talk” with a similarly inclined trooper.
Jim Bob told police in 2006 that when Josh returned home in 2003, Jim Bob, accompanied by some of his church elders, took Josh to Arkansas State Trooper, Jim Hutchens. Jim Bob knew Hutchens personally. Hutchens did not take any official action and instead gave Josh a “very stern talk.” As In Touch magazine reports exclusively in this week’s issue, Hutchens is now serving 56-years in prison for child pornography. He took no action on the Duggar case.
His parents who went on to amass a net worth of $3.5 million at least, who have used their fame to discriminate against gay and trans people, who have a giant audience of sheep who see them and think “what good Christians, standing firm in their beliefs.”
I went ahead and reached out to God for this piece, and God has granted me this statement: God thinks these people are fucking evil assholes.
Hopefully TLC will do the right thing and pull the show immediately.
TLC, which has aired 19 Kids and Counting since 2008, did not comment on the subject. But the network did run a marathon of the popular series on Thursday night, upsetting many Twitter users.