Josh Duggar Molestation Scandal: A Portrait of Gender Inequality Within Fundamentalist Sects of Christianity

In the past 24 hours, there has been a media firestorm around Josh Duggar and the allegations of him molesting five underage girls when he was a teenager surfacing.  Duggar has admitted to the allegations being true, saying that he “acted inexcusably” and that he apologizes for his actions.  There are some, like Mike Huckabee, who believe this story has been overblown and that people should forgive him and move on.  Well, I’m not going one who follows Huckabee’s advice anytime soon.

Duggar, Huckabee, and others like them will call Duggar’s actions “mistakes” from his past, but there’s no real way I can minimize his actions like that.  First, Duggar was around 14 years old when he performed these acts.  Next, Duggar performed these acts on five young girls; four of whom were his sisters.  Finally, these acts occurred over a course of many months.   These were not “mistakes”.  This was not just a boy being curious.  These were crimes and should be seen as such.

When Josh’s crimes first came to the attention of his parents, his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, did not immediately alert the authorities, despite some of the survivors being their own daughters.  The authorities were not alerted until months later after Josh continued to violate these girls.  Even then, Josh was not given proper counseling.  Instead, Josh was sent to live with a family friend who was doing home remodeling.  Only after that were the authorities alerted; however, no formal charges were pressed.  Josh got to continue his life with no real repercussions until now.

It needs to be noted that some of the survivors were Josh’s sisters.  I don’t note this fact to highlight  the “ick factor” that comes along with molesting siblings; I make note of it because of how it exemplifies the differential treatment that men and women receive in sects of Christianity that many like the Duggars adhere to.  The Duggars are members of an independent Baptist sect which promotes couples having as many children as possible, sexual purity, homeschooling, and very strictly defined gender roles.  Women are expected to be meek, submissive, and subservient to men.  The expectation is that women become “helpmeets” to their husbands, remaining at home to care for the children while the husband has a career.  The Duggar family’s sect of Christianity also highly emphasizes remaining pure until marriage, to the extent of refraining from even kissing until marriage.  The children are taught that engaging in any sexual activity before marriage makes the individual like a piece of used gum, which loses its worth.  Women are also expected to wear skirts as a way of promoting modesty in dress and as a way to not defraud men with their bodies.  In essence, women are expected to make accommodations for the shortcomings of men when it come to them not being able to keep it in their pants.  So, it wouldn’t surprise me of the survivors of Josh’s assaults feel they are partially responsible for what happened to them or that they feel like a piece of used gum, forever having lost their original worth.  I can’t possibly say if they do or if they don’t, but it’s definitely a strong possibility.  The survivors have had to live with repercussions for what their assailant did to them.

There’s a lot about this story which makes me really angry.  The first being the amount of privileges Josh has gotten throughout his life just because he’s a man and because of the family he comes from.  As a man, he had a job as a used car salesman handed to him.  He was then handed a job as an Executive director of a large think tank just because of the family he comes from.  Normally, obtaining a job of that type of prominence requires an advanced degree and years of experience.  However, he had it handed to him when his only real work experience was working in a used car lot and his only education was a GED.   Josh was able to gain notoriety and power while his sisters, whom suffered under his hands, were forced to stay at home and care for their parent’s younger children.

The next thing that makes me angry about this whole situation is the incredible hypocrisy surrounding the Duggar family’s work in promoting discrimination towards LGBT people while essentially excusing Josh’s crimes.  Much of Josh Duggar’s work at the Family Research Council involved spreading lies about LGBT people, trying to deny them access to a marriage license, and painting them as threats to children and society at large.  His mother, Michelle Duggar, made a robocall against an anti-discrimination ordinance, where she painted trans women as child molesters.  All of this, and more, while the family knew about Josh’s crimes.

However, the thing that makes me most angry is how Josh’s parents knew about what was happening and did nothing about it for months.  They knowingly left their own daughters in harm’s way and did not do a thing to protect them.  They showed their daughters that they were less worthy of protection than their sons.  They showed their daughters that men were to be given rights and privileges they would not be given just due to being men. They were told that they would never be equal to a man.

I fear for the rest of the children in that house, especially the younger daughters.  This story has not only revealed that Josh has a history of molesting young girls, it has also shown that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are unfit parents who will put their daughters in harm’s way in order to protect their sons from any real repercussions for their actions. I’m glad Josh had to resign from his position at the Family Research council and I’m glad 19 Kids and Counting has been pulled.  This family is not, in any way, worthy of praise or accolades and I hope there is now an investigation of this family from Child Protective Services.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

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Why we still need to talk about race.

Recently, the media has been somewhat abuzz with the comments Cliven Bundy has made about African-Americans.  Bundy’s started gaining notoriety when the media picked up on his battle with the federal government concerning federal land he has been using for cattle grazing which has come to a standoff between Bundy and the federal government.  He had become somewhat of a hero to people standing against perceived government overreach.  Lately, he has been gaining more attention about comments he has made about “the Negro” and wondering if African-Americans may have been better off as slaves.  Understandably, his vile words and thoughts have received a good deal of backlash, and Bundy has responded in a somewhat predictable fashion.  In the wake of the backlash, he spoke about how he loves all people and how he is not a racist.  In an interview with Chris Cuomo, Bundy continues, “Maybe I sinned … and maybe I don’t know what I actually said. … If I say Negro or black or slave … if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be (offended), then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet. … We need to get over this prejudice stuff.”

It is easy to point out the things he has said, examine what is wrong with them, and explain why they are racist.  However, this does not get to the root of the issue.  If we were to examine one thing he has said, I believe it is the quote above.  There are two phrases that stick out to me most.  The first is “if those people cannot take those kind of words”.  With this phrase, Bundy is trying to tell African-Americans (as well as other people he offended) how they are supposed to feel about his use of the word “Negro” (yes, he mentions black and slave, but he is just trying to deflect and have people ignore the context in which he used the other words).  He does not seem to realize that it is 2014 and that “Negro” is not an acceptable word that should be used in any discourse.  He seems to not care about the incredibly negative connotations that word has, or its ties to slavery and further oppression that African-Americans have faced, and still continue to face, in this country.  Bundy doesn’t seem to get that the words he used are not ok and that people should not have to take his use of those words lying down.  They have every right to speak up and speak out against his flagrant and cavalier use of them.

The second phrase, and the more important one to me, is “We need to get over this prejudice stuff,” specifically the phrase “this prejudice stuff.”  With this phrase, we get a full understating about how Bundy feels about what he said.  His positing of the concept of prejudice as mere “stuff,” or ancillary noise, shows that Bundy is somebody who is not only out of touch, but also somebody who doesn’t care about the struggles others have had to face in the United States.  He wants to sweep prejudice under the proverbial rug and never really have to talk about it.  I think it is clear that his words and actions say otherwise.

Finally, I get to my main point: the issue I take is not specifically in what Bundy said (as offensive and horrible as it is), I take greater issue in the attitude he has about what he has said and what his ideas are.  Bundy comes from a position where he does not have to think about issues pertaining to racial inequality or other forms of inequality and oppression in his day to day life.  Many other people do not have that luxury.  Because of this, when these issues do come up, Bundy and others like him want to ignore the harsh realities some people have to face, and they either try to minimize the problem by saying it is not as bad as it was, blame the victim for the problem as Bundy demonstrated, or they say that we should all come together and not speak about these issues anymore.  Neither of these options are viable.  Avoidance, victim blaming, and minimization of oppression that has occurred and continues to occur does not solve any problems.  With Bundy’s statements, it is clear that we still need to take about race and racial inequality.  This is not about trying to divide people or get people angry.  It is about solving real problems that are occurring.  Yes, these issues are not the most comfortable ones to speak about, but avoiding them is not the answer.  Moving forward, we need to have discussions about the current state of people who are members of minority groups and other disenfranchised classes, how things have changed, or not changed, from how these groups have been treated in the past, and how we can work to find solutions to the problems we have today.  I don’t claim to have any solutions that would be sufficient to solve or mitigate some of the current issues at hand; what needs to happen should be a learning process for everybody.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

A Common Misconception About Atheism (Spoken About in a Somewhat Different Lens)

There are plenty of people, like Ray Comfort, who do not accept the category of atheism, saying that all people know in their hearts that there is a god.  If we were to accept Comfort’s premise as true, we could then envision an argument between Comfort and an atheist, which ends at a breaking point in which the atheist finally says that they don’t believe in god (the god of the Abrahamic faiths) because they are angry at him.  This, of course, is not the case.

Atheism, as we know, is the lack of belief in a deity or deities.  People come to atheism for one reason or another, but the general reason I have seen (and one which I share) is that there isn’t sufficient demonstrable evidence that points to the existence of deities.  That point seems to get lost on many people.  Many outspoken atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Neil deGrasse Tyson have bolstered their arguments denying the existence of deities by pointing out the absurdities found in the Bible and are tenets of the Abrahamic faiths.  Many people ignorant to the true nature of atheism may see their arguments as an expression for their distaste for the god of the Abrahamic faiths and will extrapolate from their books, speeches, and debates, that they are angry at god.  I realize this is a logical fallacy, but many do not.

I don’t want to knock any of these men for their work; I think their arguments are absolutely stellar and reflect a large about of study and work in order to form.  There is just one thing that I feel needs to be clarified concerning atheism.  It boils down to this: the lack of belief in the existence of deities does not have anything to do with what we believe are the moral successes or failures of the deity(ies) in question or the religious systems they are attributed to.  There are religious systems that atheists may find to be morally sound and there may be others they may find to be morally reprehensible, but this is irrelevant in atheism.  Even if I were to like all of the philosophical teachings of a religious system, I still would not believe if the deity(ies) without demonstrable evidence of their existence.  I may like the teachings from the sermon on the mount, but that does not, in turn, compel me to view Jesus of Nazareth as a divine being.  On the same end, I do not like how the god of the Abrahamic faiths is said to impose hereditary guilt on people, conceivably sending five-day old infants who die to eternal punishment for lack of repentance, but that does not compel me to view the god of the Abrahamic faiths as real.  It doesn’t work that way.  Dawkins, Hitchens, and deGrasse Tyson have not spoken about the absurdities in the Bible out of hatred for a god: they spoke about the absurdities because they are absurd.  They do (or did) not believe in the existence of deities because the arguments for their existence are not good, not because the deity is not good.  The moral character of the proposed deities is ancillary when it comes to speaking about their existence.  So, in short, our opinions about how good or bad a religious system is are not relevant when it comes to judging their veracity.  They simply don’t matter.

 

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

My Challenge to Peter Schiff: Spend a Day with a Person who has an Intellectual Disability While They Work

One of my biggest pet peeves is when somebody speaks about a subject matter as if they are an expert when, in reality, they do not know the first thing about it.  Everybody is guilty of it to an extent, but at least I hope I can realize when I don’t know enough to speak about an issue.  I know enough to say that I shouldn’t be speaking about the ins and outs of international relations; I am not well read or studied on the matter.  However, there are some people with whom this construct has not set in.  One of these people is Peter Schiff.

Schiff was featured on The Daily Show this week on a segment regarding Obama’s State of the Union address.  During the address, President Obama spoke about issuing an Executive Order requiring federal workers to pay their federally-funded employees a wage of at least $10.10 per hour.  During the Daily Show segment, Schiff expressed some apprehensions about Obama’s executive order and proposed to get rid of the minimum wage as a whole.  He goes on to speak about how getting rid of the minimum wage would create jobs and how some people would be happy to work for $2 an hour.  That’s where things went south for Schiff.

When asked about which people would be happy working for $2 an hour, he mentioned teenagers working at McDonald’s and the intellectually disabled.  He defends this statement in a follow up interview by saying that if an intellectually disabled person could not make a minimum-wage level of output, then employers should not have to pay them minimum wage salaries.  He then speaks about how the intellectually disabled tend to enjoy the jobs they have when neurotypical people would find them boring and mundane.

Does Schiff really not see how offensive his comments are?  When speaking about intellectually disabled people and employment, he has the arrogance level of Donald Trump and the tactfulness of Archie Bunker.  He presumes to know about how intellectually disabled people function within society and assumes that they are either too happy or too naïve to understand or perceive when they are treated unjustly.  His remarks also carried a smug, condescending tone that should make anybody uncomfortable even reading them.

So, that is why I am proposing a challenge to Peter Schiff.  I would like for him to spend one day with an intellectually disabled person at their workplace and to do the job that person does on a daily basis.  We’ll let him feel how demeaning it is to have to come to work to do a menial job where he doesn’t get paid a living wage and where his employer does not appreciate the work that he does.  I would hope for him to learn that the work that these people often perform is not easy for anyone to perform.  Maybe then, he’ll actually learn what minimum-wage level work actually looks like.

I have had various kinds of jobs in the past.  In some of them, I have worked alongside people with intellectual disabilities (and no, that does not make me some sort of hero or martyr).  The people I have met are not only capable of performing the tasks they are assigned, they are some of the hardest workers in the place of employment.  Their work is not worth less than a neurotypical’s work because of their disability.  Many of these individuals live on their own and are responsible for many, if not all, of their finances.  If Schiff ever bothered to look, he would see that.  But, it is obvious he hasn’t.  I believe that any person who works a full work week should be paid a living wage, regardless of ability.  Schiff, obviously, does not.

Overall, I feel Schiff’s comments during The Daily Show interview and subsequent follow-up to be ignorant, insensitive, and disgusting.  Schiff is not only a man who has no idea about how people with intellectual disabilities live their lives, he also seems to have no idea about what it is like to have to really struggle to make ends meet.  Although he understands that people want to work, he does not understand that people want to be able to make enough to get by.  For too many people in the United States, this is not the case.  I hope one day, Schiff will be able to empathize with people who have to struggle to earn a living or with people who have intellectual disabilities working as hard as they can to survive as well.  Until then, he should just close his mouth and listen.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

Yet Another Reason Why the Media Diasppoints Me

Over the past few days, the general news media has been fraught with storied about Phil Robertson’s anti-gay comments and A&E’s subsequent suspension of the show Duck Dynasty.  Although the comments Robertson made are vile, it’s not someone I really care about.  While this non-story gets a large portion of media attention, the atrocities against LGBT individuals in Uganda are being given very little attention.  Just yesterday, the Ugandan parliament passed the bill which makes allows for people to be potentially jailed for life due to engaging in homosexual acts.  The bill also prohibits people from renting to LGBT people or even providing HIV counseling.  The bill is obviously bad and obviously extreme.  It is very likely to be passed into law.

Although there have been strides towards marriage equality in all 50 states over the past week, I feel the atrocities of the Ugandan bill greatly outweigh the positives that have occurred for LGBT rights in the United States.  This bill affects a lot more people in much significant ways than the marriage equality rulings do, and it certainly has much more effect of people than what some reality TV show person says about gay people.  The media’s priorities are not in the correct order; these days, entertainment is passing as news in many circles.  While there may be some news outlets that are reporting what they should be, most are not.  Additionally, if we, as a whole, think speaking about some persons unsavory opinions is more important than speaking about people possibly being jailed for life just for being gay, then we, as a whole, need to rethink our priorities.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

Please Excuse Davontaye, He Suffers From Povertenza

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

–Towanda

Our Legaci

Povertenza

Dear Judge,

I know that Davontaye’s actions caused the deaths of four people. But please don’t give him life in prison. He suffers from Povertenza. You may not know about this condition but Povertenza is an illness that people from impoverished socio-economic backgrounds have.

Due to the inability to access quality education and employment, Davontaye’s development has been stifled. This leads to poor decision making and I would further argue that since his neighborhood sees so much death and destruction, that he may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in addition to Povertenza.

Judge, it is clear that Davontaye can not be held responsible for his actions. He needs rehabilitation, not prison. Prison would only worsen his mental condition. 

Sincerely,

J.A.M.

This defense obviously doesn’t work for black  and poor youth. Yet, news outlets are spiraling about 16 year-old  Ethan Couch who caused the deaths of 4 people by…

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