September 02, 2014

Story in Stupidity: Duggar Defenders™, do you realize what you are publicly endorsing?

Today's Story in Stupidity is a bit different.

Usually, I would conversationally begin a tale of our hero or heroine, with a great heap of snark and sarcasm built in, and we would trot along until the end, much like a fairy tale that we are all hoping will end far sooner than it does.

Today, though, I have something on my mind, and I can't help but approach it quite straight forward.

The crux of my issue is this: Please, before you publicly defend someone, make sure that you understand what you are defending.

Because Duggar Defenders™, I don't think you do--and if you do understand, then I can't imagine why you continue to defend them so.

First of all, I'd truly like to thank a wonderful blogger, Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism, who consistently addresses this subculture, from her own experience in the culture that we call Quiverfull. I'd like to open with a quote from Libby Anne's post, An Open Letter to Duggar Defenders:

You likely think you know all they need to know about the Duggars from watching the TV show. First of all, this is not how TV works. But that isn’t the only issue. The problem real here is that you very likely do not understand the Duggar’s subculture. You assume that they are a typical American family with an extra 16 children. You assume that your culture is their culture. It is not.

This is the crux of our Story in Stupidity today, so if you are offended by the tone of that quote, I recommend exiting this post now, because it won't get any better.

This post is looking at a true story in stupidity: Those that defend a family of bigots that terrorize their children and seek to enforce their lifestyle politically on others, that advocate child abuse publicly and deny their children the right to a healthy range of emotional responses.

That is not a family that should be emulated, or that has a right to "live and let live" without any scrutiny.

And down the rabbit hole we go.

If you are defending the Duggars, you are publicly aligning yourself with sexual predators.

The Duggars are aligned with two controversial figures.

The first is Doug Phillips of Vision Forum. Vision Forum Ministries was a ministry that advocated patriarchal evangelical Christianity. It closed in November 2013, amid accusations of Doug Phillips' marital infidelity. Of that infidelity, consider this description from WND:

The former leader of a popular Christian ministry – who resigned from his position after confessing to an “inappropriate” relationship – is now the subject of a lawsuit that claims he “methodically groomed” and made unwanted sexual contact with a young woman after serving as an authority figure in her life for more than a decade.

The report goes on to say:

Torres said she met Phillips and his wife, Beall, at a homeschooling conference in November 1999 when Torres was 15 years old. Torres spent many hours in the Phillips home, cared for their children and helped run the family farm. She was invited on trips with the family to Hawaii, Virginia, Mexico, Florida and other states. 
By 2007, according to the complaint, Phillips began “to pay special attention” to Torres, complementing her beauty and devotion to his family, giving her money, touching her, asking her personal questions about her thoughts and life plans and telling her he would take care of her.

These are the actions of a sexual predator, and the Duggars have not  yet publicly disavowed their earlier support.

The second figure is Bill Gothard of the Institute for Basic Life Principles. Bill Gothard's transgressions are many, enumerated in more detail here by Recovering Grace.

Gothard has been accused of harassing and molesting as many as 34 women, and yet, the Duggars remain silent, while even Michael Farris of the Homeschoolers Legal Defense Association has spoken out against the man.

As an aside, check out why the Duggars curl their hair.

These two figures are not harmless. They are sexual predators. And yet, the Duggars continue to provide support to them by the silence on the issue. With their reach especially, they could actively combat the harm these men have done--but they remain silent.

If you defend the Duggars, you are publicly aligning yourself with child abusers.

The Duggars have publicly sanctioned blanket training. Here's a description of it (again courtesy of Libby Anne):

The Duggars have stated that they use blanket training. What they do is place a baby on a blanket and tell the baby not to get off. If the baby crawls off, he or she is spanked on the leg, told “no,” and placed back on the blanket. If you do this for long enough, the baby will learn to stay on the blanket, and then you can safely leave the baby there while you cook lunch or school the older ones. This all seems counter to the nature of a naturally curious baby.

Others contest that Michelle Duggar has publicly preached much worse:

Years ago, must have been 8 or so, I belonged to a forum called CMOMB (Christian Moms Of Many Blessings). This was before the TLC show, but Michelle was already a well known figure amongst the QFers. She came and did a guest chat and one of the things she talked about was blanket training. She used flexible rulers and talked about luring the baby off of the blanket and then swatting them with the ruler when they took the bait . The purpose was so that mom could visit with friends, have a phone conversation or go visiting and baby would stay put and quiet . After that chat flexible rulers were the thing, but at that time they weren't at every office supply and warehouse store, so there were lots of posts like "I found them at XYZ for $1.25, how many do you want me to pick up?!" When the TLC specials started airing and the interest in just how exactly they blanket trained babies was heating up I went to try to find a copy of the chat. I found it, but everything about spanking/hitting kids was deleted, as was any reference to Michelle in the flexible ruler threads. They circled the wagons around Michelle pretty fast.

Blanket training is child abuse. It's not uncommon for it to be instituted for young babies, some of them as young as six months--or just beginning to crawl.

This is, of course, just done to save the baby's soul and break its rebellious spirit.

If you defend the Duggars, you are publicly supporting the murder of children.

I really  hesitated to word this one so strongly, but I decided to do it because it needs to be said.

The Duggars have yet to issue a retraction of their support for To Train Up a Child, by Debi and Michael Pearl, a disgusting book that includes passages like this:

If you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final. (To Train Up A Child, page 49)

Lydia Schatz, a seven-year-old, was beaten to death by her adopted parents, who were following the Pearls' teachings. Her sister, Zariah, leaves us with a heartbreaking quote:

“I don’t know what I did to deserve what you did to me,” she said. 

Zariah, for the record, is eleven and also endured what has been described as torture.

Four-year-old Sean Paddock was suffocated in 2006 after being bound so tightly in blankets to attempt to "control" him that he could not breathe.

In 2011, thirteen-year-old Hana Williams died in her adopted parents' front yard. Her parents had again been following the Pearls' teachings.

And these are only the deaths that were so atrocious that they have made the news. How many other children live a daily nightmare, how many others DIE, because the Pearls are allowed to go on unchecked? The Duggars have the power to speak out--and yet they have publicly endorsed this book.

If you defend the Duggars, you are publicly supporting discrimination and bigotry against LGBT+ individuals.

We talked about this in last week's Story in Stupidity, but I will share Michelle's robocall again. It speaks for itself, really:

Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men – yes I said men – to use womens and girls restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool’s private changing area? I still believe that we are a society that puts women and children first. Women, young ladies and little girls deserve to use the restroom or any other facility in peace and safety. Will you speak up for protecting women and children? Call 575-8330 and tell the Fayetteville City Council members and Mayor Jordan to vote ‘no’ on ordinance 119. The number again is 575-8330. For more information please go to Paid for by

Disgraceful overreach of power to attempt to oppress people and force them in-line with the Duggars' beliefs.

If you defend the Duggars, you are publicly supporting the oppression of women.

I'm just going to copy and post the principles of Vision Forum that the Duggars live by, emphasis mine:

  • God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
  • God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of the created order.
  • A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector.
  • Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres.
  • Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a "keeper at home," the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home.
  • God's command to "be fruitful and multiply" still applies to married couples.
  • Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world.
  • Both sons and daughters are under the command of their fathers as long as they are under his roof or otherwise the recipients of his provision and protection.
  • The age-integrated communities of family and church are the God-ordained institutions for training and socialization and as such provide the preferred pattern for social life and educational endeavors.

These ideas are harmful to women and continue a culture of oppression.

If you defend the Duggars, you are publicly supporting the restriction of children's emotional ranges to an unhealthy range of "acceptable" emotions.

One of the creepiest things about Gothard and the Pearls is that they teach that happy is the only acceptable emotion.  If you do not have a joyful countenance, you are publicly shaming your authorities.  In other words, if the kid looks unhappy, it is a personal offense against the parents.  Pearl also has nauseating quotes and anecdotes about how any time his kids expressed unhappiness or anger they were hit even harder and longer until they were cheerful.  How twisted is that?  Children are taught from babyhood to always be cheerful, or else they deserve a spanking.  As they grow older, it is not just the fear of a spanking that causes them to keep smiling.  It is the sincere belief that they are sinning with ingratitude, rebellion and more if they don’t present a happy face.

If you can't see why this is unhealthy, then I don't know that there is any help for you.

Children have emotions. HUMANS have emotions. These emotions fall on a widescale, and breaking your children of certain emotions you consider undesirable is just...sick.

The Duggars are not harmless.

The Duggars--and the dangerous ideas they represent--are absolutely NOT harmless. This is a subculture that actively promotes abuse and oppression, and yet, we are constantly being taught that we should just mind our own business and not speak out against it.

I refuse.

I refuse to be silent. Not only am I going to speak out, but I am going to continue to support those that do--like Libby Anne.

I encourage all of you to do so also.

And if you have publicly supported the Duggars--anonymously or otherwise--please, take a moment to really and truly consider what they stand for. If you run across 19 and Counting, please, please, please, seriously consider changing the channel.

These are not harmless individuals on the fringe of society. They are not misunderstood or unfairly treated.

They are individuals promoting a dangerous social agenda--one that we should not celebrate, nor accept, but should speak out against, again and again, wherever we find it.

Supporting the Duggars is truly a story in stupidity. I know you are smarter than that.

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