The news of Josh Duggar’s past indiscretions as a teenager has saturated the media the past couple of days. There are some who have been calling the family hypocrites and others, Mama June included, who think the show should be cancelled. TLC has responded by pulling the show from its network schedule, but they haven’t quite pulled the plug yet and they shouldn’t. We love to devour people when they make mistakes especially people who have presented themselves as the picture of piety, but what does that do except foster the environment that forces people to hide and lie (and worse) in an effort to keep transgressions under wraps.
What Mama June is too naïve (ignorant?) to understand is that there is typically a comprehension gap between adults and children. Adults are responsible for protecting their children, so June keeping company with a man who molested her daughter is beyond reprehensible and negligent and couldn’t be condoned by the network; on the other hand you have a child who committed a sexual offense over 10 years ago, for which he was not punished through no fault of his own. There is a tremendous difference. The focus shouldn’t be on Josh, who was a minor at the time, who according to the offense report, apologized for his behavior, and, as far as currently known, has not committed any punishable offenses. His story might be one of redemption, and rightfully so. There’s no reason to think that someone at 27 is the same person they were at 14/15.
Instead, focus should be on: the writer of the letter (which detailed the assaults), who instead put pen to paper instead of hand to phone to call police; the discoverer of the letter, who instead of reporting information to authorities, seemed more interested in publicly shaming the family (by asking ‘Oprah’ show runners to confront the Duggars about abuse allegations); the parent(s) of the the fifth victim, who in the report states that they ‘didn’t want to make this into a bigger deal than what it was,’ grossly minimizing what happened to their child and finally and most egregiously, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. I’m a parent now and I write this carefully because I don’t want to rain anymore judgement on this family, but like I wrote before, adults are responsible for protecting their children. I shuddered to think about what I and my husband would have to do if faced with similar circumstances.
The pressures to parent effectively, lovingly and unconditionally are daunting in a world that damns you for mistakes, no matter how old. I don’t think that they are terrible people, but they erred in shielding their son from real consequences and not providing him with legitimate counseling; and they sent a message to their daughters that their protection can be nullified under certain conditions. Whether they did so in an honest attempt to protect everyone involved or in an effort to protect the political career of Jim Bob (who was running for Senator at the time) remains to be seen, but I’ll be honest: I’d like to see it. Taking them off TV is no punishment. In no time, all will be forgotten and they’ll be back to living their lives as it once was, surrounded by supporters in their quiet community in Arkansas. Taking the show off the air is cliched and a tired remedy to satisfy those eager for swift justice. Not for me. I would rather them face this music, ON AIR with no place to hide.