My girls and I have long debated their choice to watch 19 kids and Counting, and the previous incarnations of that show, which features the Duggar family. The most recent shows, where children who have never been allowed to learn anything for themselves are married away and told to begin baby making, caused my blood to boil more so than ever, and my girls didn’t understand why. “Oh Mom, they are different but they aren’t hurting anybody,” my three girls, all once fans of the show would say. The fact that they don’t allow their children to date, be educated, or make any of their own decisions made them, in my mind, bad parents well before the announcement was made on Thursday that Josh, their oldest son, molested his sisters, and his hair sprayed parents covered it up. With the addition of that information, one has to wonder how dangerous are parents like the Duggars and, how irresponsible is TLC for giving them a platform for which to proselytize and profit?

The show, which prior to Thursday’s announcement had been number one in its time slot, has a huge following, and TLC is allegedly concerned about how it’s decision to discontinue the show will affect its relationship with those viewers. It is rumored that TLC has considered simply canning Josh, and keeping the rest of the tater-tot loving, babies with bows in their heads toting, All-American looking family employed on the show to promote their family values of: bigotry, chauvinism and hypocrisy.

The Duggars, who run their household like a terrorist training camp, restrict their children’s access to education, and demand their offspring’s strict adherence to a doctrine that governs every aspect of their lives. The home-based education Michelle and Jim Bob do provide is rooted in fear and intolerance. While even the Amish give their kids a chance to explore the outside world before they commit to an Amish lifestyle, the Duggars see to it that their children are wed to a like-raised robot, before they are ever let out of the house alone. In the Duggar home, freedom is strictly regulated, and more of an illusion than a reality.

Girls are not allowed to wear pants, or shorts because the Duggars sexualize everything. For this reason, pools and beaches are to be avoided, and thought of as the devil’s playground, where scantily clad women arouse men who are incapable of self-control. There is no sense that perhaps the solution rests in teaching self-control; the onus must fall on the women to chose their wardrobes accordingly, so as not to provoke desire.

The Duggars do not teach tolerance for lifestyles other than their own. In the wake of this scandal, numerous conservative Christians, perhaps most notably former presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, have come out in defense of Josh and his family, and have accused liberals of being unforgiving. Mr. Huckabee goes on to blame people who have spoken out about Josh’ s indiscretions for trying to “sensationalize” the story because they belong to the “blood-thirsty media.” It seems hypocritical, to say the least, that the defense of the Duggars is rooted in asking forgiveness and tolerance from those that they condemned, and accused of criminal behavior without evidence. Most notably, Josh Duggar, himself, has argued against rights for homosexuals on the basis that said lifestyle leads to socially deviant, and criminal behavior, like pedophilia. Now in the face of this scandal those who do not believe the Duggars lies about what makes a pedophile, are also charged with being unsympathetic and blood-thirsty?

Of course, the Duggars’ hypocrisy, bigotry, and anti-feminist sentiments can been seen as clearly outside of this scandal as they can within it. Michelle and Jim Bob, who both attended public school where they met when Michelle was a cheerleader, found each other outside of a courtship, and are by their own admission, a perfect match. They have admitted to kissing before marriage, They don’t address why they have decided to shelter their children from things like: public school, organized sports, like cheerleading, or regular dating, which led to the union, that they perpetually remind viewers, is such a blessing.

Perhaps the Duggars should spend a bit more time reflecting on how their philosophies might contribute to social deviancy and criminal behavior? Maybe they should consider how raising children in an environment where they are taught that every natural, biological, sexual urge is a sin; every thought that stems from any theory, except their own distorted distillation of the gospel, is blasphemy, and individuality of any sort is not only intolerable, but is also said to lead to distance from, if not the prevention, of salvation, might affect them? The Duggars reject, of course, scientific studies which point to how children are adversely affected when they do not have certain psychological conditions, such as the freedom to express themselves, met, and instead prefer to ascribe to theories based totally on lies and rumors and prejudice,

This is America, and everyone is entitled to practice their religion, however, I believe a case could be made that the Duggars’ brand of religion
prevents their children access to the civil liberties to which they are constitutionally entitled to as citizens of the United States. The government has been known to step in when parents restrict their children’s access to life saving medical care. I think it would be fair to argue that mental health is as important as physical health, and a case could be made against home schooling in cases where parents use that environment to prevent a child’s psychological growth.

For the time being though it seems enough to wonder why it took a criminal act to cause TLC, and the sponsors of 19 Kids and Counting, to consider the cancellation of this show? What does it say about the media, and our nation, that we still find it ok to promote views of discrimination based on gender, and sexual orientation? Are color-coordinated outfits to blame for why so many have been blind to what indecent act the show 19 kids and counting is? Because it was disgusting long before the molestation reports were publicized.

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