Just A Thought on Guilt, Shame, and Public Relations

And maybe the subtitle here is “A Whole Lot of Questions.”

My wife is an occasional viewer of the Duggar clan on tv. I know that over the years, the number of kids has upticked from 17 to 18 to 19, and now they’re counting grandkids. A side note: I never figured out why, if the clan heads wanted more kids, they didn’t adopt. Maybe now I know.

A few quick thoughts on Josh Duggar. Not that I’m an apologist for underage sexual activity or a Mike Huckabee clone, but what purpose does it serve for a young man with a wife and four kids to lose a job on account of horrifically bad judgment (or sex addiction) as a teenager?

  • Did his employer pressure him to resign because he’s suddenly a public relations liability? If so, they should just fire him. And be moral and honest about it. And let him collect on unemployment insurance.
  • Did young Mr Duggar resign out of some sense of personal guilt and shame? And if so, is the public outing of this scandal a danger to his own recovery? So what if public appearances with other celebrities is out? There’s nothing wrong with a desk job if its honest work.
  • I read in news outlets about his dad calling the cops on him and getting him into therapy or something. Was the same mercy was shown to those he victimized? I wonder what they think about all this coming down.

When I was talking to my wife about this, she wondered what he was going to do about a job. Who would hire him? Good question. She thinks a book is in the air. Maybe that’s the only possibility left. But is that just another nod to the celebrity-driven culture we live in?

I suppose the Duggars are nice enough people. They have parlayed their Christian values into a celebrity life. And really, what are the alternatives? The Kardashians? No thanks.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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6 Responses to Just A Thought on Guilt, Shame, and Public Relations

  1. Jen says:

    My beef with them is that they’re vehemently anti-LGBT and insist that trans people are predators in bathrooms.

    My other (perhaps bigger) beef is that molesters rarely stop offending and often have many more victims than are known. I wouldn’t trust Josh Duggar around any hypothetical child.

    • Todd says:

      Well, I don’t watch the show but a passing through the living room once or twice a year. But I was amused the first time the clan ate in an Italian restaurant. That was a strange bit of culture shock. I can only imagine if sometime they all ate Indian or Thai–that might be entertaining to watch.

      I wonder if the vehement anti-LGBT isn’t more just ignorance of things not in their orbit. A teen boy brought up in a strict household is experimenting with sex: I can only guess as to how sex education works for the Duggars. I don’t know that a 14-year-old boy with girls a few years younger is a real case of molestation. Legally, there’s no distinction, but it could have been play. When does play cross the line into abuse?

      • Jen says:

        I’m not comfortable saying it isn’t abuse. Sexual abuse and incest are often discounted and ignored. I sincerely doubt any of the kids involved got any real counseling, either.

  2. JennyN says:

    I don’t know that a 14-year-old boy with girls a few years younger is a real case of molestation.

    Todd: while I appreciate most of your writing / posts on this blog, your entry here reflects the kind of serious misapprehension about sexual abuse which is still all too common. The age of an abuser doesn’t matter (and many child abusers *do* start molesting younger children in their teens). The point is that sexual contact was forced upon children who were *incapable* of giving consent. Note: by “forced” I don’t necessarily mean the use of violence; I mean that the decision was made by only one of those involved, and was carried on regardless of the wishes of the child.

    I gather that you and many posters here are based in the US. I’m currently living in Australia, probably the first Western nation to embark on a systematic examination of sexual abuse in both secular and religious organisations of all types. If you want to understand just how many forms this vile crime can take, how wide-ranging and long-lasting the effects on its victims can be – and if you have the stomach for it – Google “Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse”. Then click on the heading “Case Studies”. Start in each case with the opening address and then read the witness statements and the transcripts of evidence. You may then begin to have an inkling of what happens when “sexual abuse and incest are… discounted and ignored”.

    • Todd says:

      I misspoke on this. Perhaps the experimentation among teens of close ages isn’t always abuse. But yes: it could be. I’ll just repeat: I don’t know. Meaning that I, personally, as an individual ignorant (thankfully) of the details of this one case, do not know.

      By definition, as a 14-year-old, Josh Duggar himself was incapable of giving consent at the time of these episodes. Is it sexism to assume a female is always the victim? Or a presumption of bullying/imposition in assuming the younger of two underage sexual partners is always the victim?

      I did read a little earlier this afternoon that Josh indeed was involved with forced sexual activity with his sisters and with one unrelated girl. So yes, in these instances, it was clearly abuse.

      A fourteen-year old with a nine or ten year old: yes, abuse in nearly all cases. Given the earlier physical (and sometimes emotional) maturity of girls, a 14 year-old boy with a 12 year-old girl: I don’t know.

      I also asked in my post, if the girls victimized got counseling. I don’t need to know it, really. But I certainly am aware enough of abuse issues to ask about it.

      All that said, I’m not convinced sexual activity between underage people is *always* abuse. Deeply inadvisable, certainly. Sinful, with any sort of consent, yes.

      • Maria says:

        Rule of thumb that I learned from youth ministers: take a person’s age, halve it and add seven. That gives you the minimum age of someone they should be sexually involved with.

        So for a 14 year old, that gives 14/2 + 7 = 14.

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