Josh Duggar’s Shame and Ours

Image caption: Detective. Photo: Getty Images

To bypass software installed on his computer to prevent him from viewing pornography, Josh Duggar installed a separate operating system and an “encryption-capable browser”, Northwest Arkansas Democratic Gazette mentioned. Using these tools, he downloaded child pornography, some of which depicted the abuse of children under the age of 12. And although he has pleaded not guilty, a federal jury concluded otherwise and this week indicted him on one count of receiving and possessing child pornography. He faces decades in prison.

This normal case appeared in the Associated Press and New York times And diverse Because he is famous, initially known for his career in reality TV shows. For years, Duggar has appeared with his brothers on TLC 19 kids and counting, which portrayed his large and conservative family as something strange and close at once. How unusual it is to have so many children, but how special family life seemed – this was TLC’s show for the nation, and it worked. The Duggars were stars.

What TLC described as glamorous traditionalism was really a form of extreme. Before Duggar ruined his life, he was a lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a prominent anti-LGBT hate group. The Duggars campaigned against abortion rights as a family after they became famous. A year before the public learned of Duggar’s abusive past, his mother, Michelle Duggar, recorded a bot call against an anti-discrimination measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She claimed that this measure would allow “males with previous convictions against predatory children claiming to be female the legal right to enter special areas designated for women and girls.”

Not long after that, Duggar admitted to molesting five teenage girls, including four of his sisters. The family stood by him – they had known the story and buried it for years – but they lost their TV show. Mike Huckabee, the former right-wing Arkansas governor, defended Josh after the harassment story broke in 2015. “They are no more perfect family than any, but their Christian testimony is not distorted in our eyes because following Christ is not an advertisement for us. But this is not an advertisement for us,” Huckabee wrote on Facebook. Confession wouldn’t be Duggar’s last. He watched pornography cheated on his wife. He was so sorry. He disappeared from TV, but TLC and the Duggars had money to make, so the network debuted another reality show, this show focusing on his adult siblings. Family is a spectacle.Maybe it can no longer be anything else.

The Duggar family’s popularity is indicting not only TLC but also the show’s fan base, who were committed enough to the family that a story of harassment couldn’t force them off the air. The reality TV model convinces viewers that they participate – almost – in the lives of his stars. Duggars in particular sold a rosy vision. Their family was so charming, so charismatic, that people wanted to belong. With Duggars, devout Christians all, missionary fervor galore in their performance. Family belief conveys a strong attraction. The audience spent years with them and watched the children grow up, find love and get married.

However, fame always costs. Duggar’s parents struck a deal with TLC on behalf of the brood, which included children too young to agree to their notoriety. What does it say about TLC – about us – that Duggars can become famous? Did their parenting life seem strange to many? The Duggars have never felt anything but a threat to me; Although my family has never approached extremes, we practiced an adjacent version of Christian fundamentalism. However, I had a basic measure of personal freedom. Unlike the Duggar girls, I wore the pants and kept my hair curly. My parents even put me in public school—eventually—and assumed I’d go to college, even if they hoped I’d meet a Christian man there. (I was not.)

The little liberties I had eluded the Duggar children. I felt then, and I still feel now, that having cameras in their lives made escape more difficult, and that a person could not be entertained and liberated at the same time. The Duggar kids didn’t even have remote actors who could claim their roles. Duggar’s parents probably know this, too. The cameras acted like a fence and kept the children inside while people looked outside. This is what it means to be a witness. The Duggars wanted to be role models for others, and TLC helped them do so for years. While the family performed for the camera, they became more deeply involved with the Christian Right. Not only did they limit the freedom of their children, they sought to limit the freedom of others. Long skirts, family cramming, and early marriage of their children were never personal choices on their own, but rather a life they hoped to impose on others.

The Duggars are what they claimed to be: an all-American family. If there’s anything that can be drawn from the tragedy of Josh Duggar’s life and crimes, it’s this – extremism wears a familiar face. Duggars can only become popular in a nation whose traditional values ​​reflect their own. Hypocrisy and cruelty are as American as science. Duggars have just taken the qualities of their environment and perfected them, all for the sake of the willing crowd. Josh Duggar’s story is, hopefully, at an end. The rest of his family might eventually move in and out of the public spotlight. The rest of us will have to reckon with what they left behind.

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