Are people telling you that the 19 Kids and Counting Duggar scandal shouldn’t be political? That’s one of the lines being trotted out by Republicans, but it’s a tough position to hold, given that the Duggars are political, and as political activists have taken positions on the very thing this scandal is about. Positions that are very different from what they actually did.
Jim Bob Duggar was in fact running for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2002, soon after his son Josh Duggar first admitted molesting an underage girl while she slept. Since Jim Bob did nothing to stop him, Josh Duggar continued on adding to his victim list, molesting four more underage girls (that we know of) between 2002-2003. Four of his five known victims were his sisters.
Because it was a Republican primary in the South, a hot issue was how many ways and under what circumstances would he restrict a woman’s right over her own body and medical decisions.
As Josh was molesting girls and Jim Bob knew about it, Jim Bob explained away his moral position on abortion — always wrong except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk — by saying that he didn’t believe the unborn should be executed, but rather anyone who commits such “heinous crimes” as rape and incest should be executed.
Gawker hunted down this tidbit from the Wayback Machine and posted it in an article entitled, “Duggar Dad’s Political Platform: Incest Should Be Punishable by Death”.
Asked what his political position regarding abortion was on rape, incest and life of the mother, Jim Bob replied:
“If a woman is raped, the rapist should be executed instead of the innocent unborn baby. Adoption is an option. Many couples would love to adopt and are waiting for a baby. Abortion has been and always will be the destruction of an innocent child. Rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes. The developing infant committed no crime and should be allowed to live.”
It’s hard to find a more political issue than abortion, and for Jim Bob Duggar to have justified his position against women’s rights with execution for a predator when he knew that his own child was a predator and he was doing nothing to stop him is simply mind-boggling.
This lack of care for real life women and girls is sadly evident under many justifications for restrictions on women’s medical liberty. Women know this, and they are naturally wary of the song and dance Republicans trot out to excuse their controlling policies.
It is impossible after this scandal — especially taken in context with other Republican policies wherein they gave protection and rights to rapists or refused for a year to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act unless it was watered down to the point where it was better described as the PRO Violence Against Women Act — to take Republicans at their word that they care so much for a fetus, that life is so “precious” that they must take constitutionally-protected liberty away from women.
Jim Bob Duggar left his underage, vulnerable girls at the mercy of his predator son while he was running for a U.S. Senate seat on the platform of executing those who commit incest. Jim Bob didn’t walk his own talk, and this is really the point. Republicans make a lot of rules restricting the behavior of others based on some moral superiority they imagine themselves to have, and then promptly exempt themselves from adhering to the same rules.
Republican Mike Huckabee — a former Arkansas Governor — is out front defending this family’s actions. Several Republican legislators helped the family utilize a judge appointed by Huckabee to kill the police report about the investigation into Josh Duggar’s crimes.
This isn’t leadership. This is a long con, with the age-old shield of divine authority. Jim Bob Duggar and his wife Michelle left their girls under the same roof as their son after they knew he was a predator. They sent him away after four more victims came up, but only to work a construction job. No one has ever proven that working construction kills the need to dominate and humiliate the vulnerable (Josh is either a pedophile or he craved the power to humiliate), so it’s hard to say how many other victims there could be. It’s not just possible, but likely.
Jim Bob said incest deserved execution. That sounds great — but he said it while he was shielding his own son from any legal consequences for molesting his own sisters. How can this scandal not be political when the politics of the Duggars are deeply invested in other people’s personal lives. It’s political because it is centered on laws that politicians make — too often ignoring real life reality.
Here it is. This is sadly real life, with one out of five girls the victim of sexual abuse in this country. This fact is political, because our lawmakers/politicians decide how to deal with the result of this ugly fact. Republicans, so far, seem to think the Duggars are above the law. And that is political, because these are the laws they are advocating as politicians.
The law must apply to everyone and it must work in real life.
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Image: Gawker capture via Wayback Machine
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.