Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar's Fox News Interview Was Full Of Excuses For Josh Duggar's Behavior & It's Very Problematic
The big news this week is that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar agreed to talk, for the first time on television, about their son Josh Duggar and how he allegedly molested five young girls including his sisters. Or, as the Duggars claim, he made "some very bad mistakes." The 19 Kids & Counting couple sat down with Fox News' Megyn Kelly to tell their story on The Kelly File Wednesday night, and their version of events was problematic. The Duggar parents kept insisting that their daughters didn't know the alleged molestation was happening, and didn't understand it, as if that somehow made it less terrible. Unfortunately, that's a really troublesome way of viewing the alleged sexual abuse.
Throughout the interview both Michelle and Jim Bob reiterated several times, "[The girls] didn't even know he had done it." What's "it," exactly? According to Jim Bob, as a young teen, Josh had "improperly touched some of [their] daughters." The Duggars don't think his actions qualify him as a molester, a pedophile, or a rapist, all labels that have been thrown at him in the recent weeks. "This was not rape or anything like that," Jim Bob insisted. "This was touching someone over their clothes. There was a couple of incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was, like, a few seconds."
OK, but let me be very clear, it doesn't matter how long the touching went on for. It doesn't matter that the girls were supposedly asleep and "they didn't even know what had happened until after the fact when we told them," as Michelle claimed. It doesn't matter that they were young and, according to their mother, "probably didn't understand it was inappropriate touching."
The point is that their teenage son, who, by their own admission, understood this "was wrong," yet he did it anyway on multiple occasions. But, the Duggars seemed more concerned with clearing Josh's name than addressing the potential hurt of their daughters, his victims.
Although he was not included in the interview, Josh Duggar addressed the allegations in a statement to People magazine when the news first broke.
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
Jim Bob and Michelle had also given a statement on Facebook regarding what they called Josh's "very bad mistakes."
Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.
During the Fox News interview, I counted five separate times that Jim Bob and Michelle trotted out the line that their daughters did not know it had happened, and didn't understand what it meant. The Duggar parents are contributing to rape culture by acting like the extent of the touching ("over their clothes"), or the duration of the touching ("like two seconds"), or the victims' comprehension level ("they didn't even know") comes into play in deciding Josh's level of guilt. Those things don't play a factor. The truth is that Josh did something terrible and how the Duggar parents handled it aside, what they're saying today is damaging.
The victim is never too young, and it doesn't matter if the victims are conscious or not. It's frustrating that the Duggars don't seem to understand that. They love their son and want him redeemed in God's eyes, and the public's. But, in the process, they're downplaying the victims' experiences, and that's not OK.
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