Saturday, June 6, 2015

Once Again: The Duggar Family

I've already shared some thoughts on this here but since twitter isn't always the best place to express yourself in the most meaningful way, I feel compelled to post again.  Over the last three evenings Megyn Kelly has devoted her entire show to the Duggar family.  Last night she asks

I have many thoughts on this but first I'd like to say that I thought the interview was very well done.  She asked pointed and important questions, allowed the young women to speak without cutting them off or twisting their words (the way many others would have) and handled the entire painful and sensitive subject with class and respect.  I appreciate that.

Now for my other thoughts in no particular order...

But first, a few things:

I don't know the Duggar family personally.   I've never watched their tv show because I don't care for reality tv. I actually know very little about the Duggar family except that they have way more kids than we do (all with J names - where we only have three J named kids), and they're Christians. I've never felt the need to know anything more about the Duggar family.  When I first heard the news of the "sex scandal" my initial reaction was probably a lot like everyone else's.  I was disgusted.  But then I thought "wait, it's the media, what's the real story here?"  Knowing the way the media works I knew what was initially reported was likely not factual at all.  As it turns out, I was right.

My only real motivation or need to express my thoughts about this whole mess is because on a fundamental level of "family" and "Christian" I can identify with this family, as a mother of many children.  I also have huge issues with lies, and the way the media will spin just about anything to make it sound like THE story of the year when the truth is often nowhere near as horrifying as the media has made it out to be.  Or sometimes it's the opposite and the story is much more complex and painful and the media makes a mockery of it, by omitting some of the most important details.  It's been many years but I've had first hand experience with the media and I've seen myself on tv saying things that were taken so completely out of context, even I wouldn't have completely believed me, if I didn't know the whole story.  So on this level, I also identify in some way with this family.  So with that said...

TRUST ME, IT'S ALL CONFIDENTIAL - NO ONE ELSE WILL EVER KNOW

One of the worst things (in my opinion) to come from this media disaster, is the leaking of the sealed, juvenile/family court records. As difficult as it must be for the Duggar family to have to deal with all of this all over again after 13 years, I cannot even imagine what the broader effect will be now. I hope of course it will have zero effect and those who need help, continue to reach out for it.

If you are an underage victim of sexual abuse or assault, and you've been following this case in the news, how likely is it that you're going to feel like speaking to someone in authority is a safe place for you?  The blatant betrayal of trust by whoever provided those documents to the media is something that absolutely must be investigated. Being the victim of sexual abuse carries enough shame, guilt and stigma (all misplaced, but its the reality all the same) on it's own.  But to take it a step further and see what can happen if you do make the choice to trust someone, is potentially devastating.

The reality is, in most cases, most of the time, your situation and your case will in fact be kept confidential and you can trust the authorities to handle your situation with dignity and respect. The Duggar case is an exception because they are in the public eye and because they are a Christian family.  They were specifically targeted by a malicious, spiteful individual who wanted the general public to think horrible things about them.  And it worked.  The media and the public has eaten it up like candy.  The very public that knows the media spins things to fit their own agenda.  Yet the public, our culture craves scandal so this was a particularly delicious treat, it would seem.

BREAKING NEWS: NEW LURID DETAILS REVEALED IN THE STORY OF THE YEAR

Click-bait.  That's all it is. I've seen some of the headlines associated with this case and they are blatant, 100% lies written for no other reason than to get as many clicks and generate as much conversation and gossip as possible.  The media has played the public like a stinking fiddle.  Yes, no question at all, crimes were committed.  But the actual crimes committed compared to the non-stop accusations and name calling are like night and day.  Those who are calling Josh Duggar a rapist, a pedophile, a predator, a pervert, etc. may as well be calling people like Ted Bundy and John Gacy "difficult neighbors". It's almost as if... folks are reading the lies, and want it to be true so badly, that they just repeat what they've read. Instead of looking honestly and rationally at the facts.

THIS JUST IN: ELECTRICITY HAS BEEN INVENTED

Every once in a while, someone on social media will post something they read in the news, as if it just happened today - when in fact it's an old news story that they'd just never seen before. Just a couple of weeks ago a local, independent news outlet actually posted James Garner's obituary with the headline of something along the lines of "farewell, Rockford".  A bunch of people commented and asked why they were posting last year's news.  They didn't bother to explain, they just deleted the post. Needless to say, that outlet lost numerous credibility points that day.

In very much the same way, this is exactly what's going on with the Duggar family.  Media got hold of an OLD story that wasn't actually a secret or covered up or buried (or any of the other accusations people are making), and made us all think a.) it just happened and b.) it was WAY worse than it really was.  And, right on cue... the public reacted the way the public tends to react when hearing an awful story that includes sexual abuse and children.  And lies, and secrets, and cover-ups and... all the other scandalous adjectives peppered throughout all the media stories.

The thing is, I get why people are angry.  Sexual abuse of children or anyone else SHOULD generate that kind of response.  It's vile and awful and humiliating and all of those things and more. I also get why people are angry about (what some are saying) a "cover up" and how Josh Duggar never paid the civil penalties for what he did.  But in this case, it's an OLD story.  It's something that did happen but it happened 12-13 years ago and was already dealt with by the family, the victims, local law enforcement (who were in fact the ones to drop the ball initially when the state trooped never filed an actual report - let's be honest and lay that blame where it belongs), family services, etc.  It's something the family themselves have moved on from years ago. Yet, because it's just now being revealed to the general public, they have to deal with it again.  Like ripping open a painful scar that took years to heal... just to watch it bleed.  Frankly, I find that revolting.

MY FAMILY/YOUR FAMILY/DUGGAR FAMILY

Part of the reason this story is important to me is because I can relate to this family.  While we have never had an incident of sexual abuse in our immediate family, we most certainly have had some extraordinarily painful, difficult, shameful, awful, terrible times we've had to deal with, walk through, pray about, seek counsel for, and attempt to move on from.  Many tears were shed, many thoughts were had about "will we get past this?" and many days were spent walking on eggshells, with no peace in sight and tension in our home so thick you could practically smell it.  Why?  Because stuff happens.  It happens in every single family.  Some to a greater extent than others but it most definitely does happen.  If anyone reading can honestly say they've never dealt with things like this is their own family, they're either delusional or they are the exception to the rule, and blessed beyond measure.

I think about my own family and think... what if?

What if, after dealing with all the painful things, for some bizarre reason we became famous.  Then, what if, some slimeball who didn't like us, decided to dig deep into our closets to find skeletons?  I can assure you, every family has one or more and we're no different.  Then, said slimeball decided to notify the media about these skeletons and the media ran with it.  How would we deal with that?  Would anyone believe us? Would we cringe every time a new headline was written that was a total lie about what actually happened or how we dealt with it?  Would we chose to do an interview to tell our side of the story about what really happened?  Would anyone believe that interview? Would our motives be judged, over and over again by people that don't even know us, weren't there, and don't have all the facts?

My husband and I actually talked about this the other night as it pertains to this case, and how we'd deal with it if this were our family.  Usually we're both pretty skeptical and critical of things but we both have a great deal of compassion for this family knowing that it could happen to any family.

Then I think about being 14 and the person I was then.  OH MY GOODNESS.  I'm not going to out myself for all the dumb, mean, stupid, thoughtless, rotten things I said and did and thought at 14 years old, but I can tell you I was not a good person, much of the time. I was a rebellious, bull-headed, independent brat and did whatever I wanted to do, despite the rules, despite the consequences.  And I ended up paying for it, in spades.  Then I grew up and became normal (well, for the most part).  Who among us, who among reading about the Duggar family case, is the same person they were at 14?  Well, unless you're just now 15, probably no one.  I don't know Josh Duggar but I know being 14, and it's a galaxy away from being 27.  That much I do know, and I'm sure everyone else does too.

So... just a few more thoughts on this mess.  I do hope the ones most affected by this find peace, and it comes quickly.