Monday, June 1, 2015

The definition of a "child"...

This morning, I read about Elizabeth Smart and her three month old baby, Chloe.  I wasn't surprised to read the news that she'd had a child, since about a month ago, someone on RfM reported seeing her in Utah with a baby girl.  I'm very happy for her and glad she's finally able to do things like have a baby without the whole world immediately finding out about it.  She deserves peace and privacy.

The news about Chloe was apparently broken by Ed Smart, who was quoted by the East Idaho News in an article about his work to stop child sex trafficking.  I couldn't help but notice this statement from the article about Mr. Smart's work...

Smart’s daughter, Elizabeth, was forced from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002. Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee are currently in prison for kidnapping the then 14-year-old child.

When Elizabeth Smart was 14, people considered her a child.  She was a victim and a pretty female, so it was easy to think of her as a helpless, innocent girl.  She was blameless in what happened to her.

Contrast that to the recent news about Josh Duggar, who has admitted to fondling his sisters and a family friend when he was 14 and 15 years old.  The comments about Josh from the general public indicate that few people think of him as a child when he was 14.

I am not in any way condoning what Josh Duggar did.  I don't think it's right that he was victimizing his sisters.  I am just wondering why we're able to see 14 year old Elizabeth as a child, but so many of us don't see 14 year old Josh that way.  He's been labeled a predator and a child molester.  Some people are even calling for him to be locked up, even though at this point, there's been no evidence that his deviant behavior has continued beyond his teen years.  ETA: This was written before the news broke about Josh and the stripper.  He still didn't get help as a child, though.  If he had, maybe that could have been avoided.

I think what Josh Duggar did was pretty disgusting.  However, given the way he was being raised and the circumstances surrounding his crimes, I'm not really that surprised that he did these things.  At age 14 and 15, he was probably dealing with a lot of hormones flooding his body.  He had no one to talk to about those feelings and no appropriate outlet for them.  He wasn't even allowed to look at pretty girls his parents or sisters deemed "inappropriately dressed".  Forget masturbation or fantasizing or any of the other normal sexual things people do as they grow up.  He wasn't even allowed to acknowledge his sexual feelings, let alone deal with them.

It was absolutely wrong that he violated those girls.  But, at the time, he was himself still a child.  He needed help and I don't think he ever got it.  That's a tragedy.  Josh Duggar's parents failed him and Josh's victims when they tried to handle this situation on their own.  They shirked their responsibilities.  They didn't take care of their children-- Josh included.

A lot of people think Josh is a hypocrite.  I agree that he has made some hypocritical statements about family, purity, and how to live the "right" way.  At the same time, I doubt he had any say about where he is today.  It was not his decision to become a reality TV star.  That was a decision made by his parents.  If we're honest, it was a decision made by his father, the almighty Jim Boob, ruler of all things Duggar.  For all we know, Josh would have been happier and better off continuing his anonymous lifestyle off screen.

The incidents involving his sisters and the other girl happened before the Duggars were a household name.  Think about it.  If you are in a huge family that gets caught up in the money and fame related to reality TV, are you going to pipe up about the fact that you molested your sisters?  No.  I don't think most people would have done that.  It would have shown enormous integrity to do something like that, but most people would not have had the courage.  And to be a teenager and come clean about something like that, especially when you are being raised by a massive control freak in fundie Christian cult, is especially difficult.

I don't like Josh Duggar much.  I didn't like him much even before this news broke.  But I don't think he's as bad as the public is making him out to be.  I think he was a child when he committed his regrettable actions.  He should have gotten some real help from people who actually know what they're doing, not get sent off to do manual labor for a friend of the family.  He didn't get that real help.  I think the situation he is in right now is largely due to bad decisions his parents made.  He was raised to parrot them, just like the rest of his siblings have been.

I just don't think Josh's life should be ruined by things he did when he was still a child.  Fortunately for Josh, the public is fickle, and my guess is that this will all eventually blow over, the way it somewhat has for Paula Deen.         

4 comments:

  1. I'm not without sympathy toward Josh Duggar. In our society, if someone is much over 11 and the victim is younger, the older child who initiated the "whatever" on the younger one is going to be seen as the perp, and the younger one who was violated as the victim. It'w not likely to change soon.


    I do worry a bit about Josh, even if 14 or 15 would be considered a child, because he was at that borderline age where it's probably beyond playing doctor and possibly extending into a person's actual tendencies. I'm not saying Jossh Duggar is a danger to his own children, because I have no idea, but i do worry.

    Then there's the whole angle of a large percentage of those who touch others inappropriately doing so because it was first done to them. Was Josh a victim? If so, of whom? Could that person still be roaming the Earth, touching children in intimate ways?

    I understand that the Duggars had many hungry mouths to feed and a few fly-by-night businesses by which to finance the care and feeding of so many children (their choice entirely, but still I understand) but they had to have known that this story would break eventually and that Josh would eventually face humiliation if they chose to be in the public eye.
    Right or wrong of the rest of the situation notwithstanding, they chose to ride the gravy train as far as it would take them until someone ultimately threw Josh under the bus. Hungry mouths to feed or not, this is unadulterated greed by my standards.

    And utimately I'm not sure exactly what they were supposed to do about the situation when some of the victims were the Duggars' daughters while the perp was their son, but I don't think they adequately protected their daughters who were victims by allowing Josh to return home. I know I could never feel safe sleeping in a home with someone who had molested me even if he was only 15 and my brother.

    This is an incredibly complicated issue. It shows, on one hand, that while parents should have freedom to raise their children as they choose, when kids are home-churched and home-schooled, the children have virtually no adult in whom to confide when someone abuses them. While the role of the public school as a social service agency is vilified, thank God that children have a place where they can tell about such things, and professionals are required by law to pass such information on to the professionals who specialize in such things and know more about such matters than teachers, assistants, cafeteria workers, etc., we can't all be masters at all trades, which is one reason for the mandated reporting. A first grade teacher has her hands full just teaching a class of twenty-seven six-year-olds without having to play judge and jury when a child comes to him or her with a troubling story. Thank goodness for child prot4ective services. the system may not be perfect, but at least there's someone looking out for the welfare of children. And, as you very well know, despite the horror stories we occasionally hear, mostly through media sensalization IMO, it's rare that a child is removed from a home unjustly.

    Since the statute of limitations has expired (and needs to stay that way; we don't need a new cock-and-bull law concocted for the purpose of charging Josh Duggar after his statute of limitations) law enforcement needs to sit down with the man and speak with him in detail (and in confidence) to see if there is anything we can learn from this situation and how it was handled so that history doesn't repeat itself

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    1. Honestly, I don't know how the Duggar girls could stand it. They did at least move to a much bigger house a couple of years later. From what I could see in their earliest specials, the house the oldest ones grew up in was just tiny... living in tiny living quarters with a brother who molested you couldn't have been easy.

      I just think the public is thinking of Josh as the man he is now rather than the boy he was back then. He's a different person today. As a 14 or 15 year old, he was a sheltered boy.

      I think the Duggar parents are hypocrites and they are ultimately responsible for this mess. I feel sorry for their kids.

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  2. A lot of things about the whole situation bother me, though. How much did Josh know about what he was not supposed to do? My parents were very open about sexuality. If my brother and I had been found doing the wild thing when we were fourteen, it would have been with full knowledge that what we were doing was wrong, and why. I'm not entirely certain such was the case with Josh.

    I wonder how sex was talked about in their home. Was anyone told explicitly what was not to be done to their bodies, or what they were not to do to others, until a time at which it was appropriate, which, in their view, would have been after marriage? Or were the boys told simply to keep their hands off their own pickles and not to do anything else, but were not told what those other things they were not to do were?

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    1. Well, considering the guys were to lower their eyes when someone said "Nike!", my guess is that sex was a forbidden topic to them. Boob has often said that he doesn't allow contemporary music because it makes people want to dance and that is too sensual an activity. It may provoke sexual feelings.

      I remember being 14 and 15 and all the emotions and hormones I was dealing with at that time. I had parents who didn't talk to me about sex, but I was free to study it on my own and I did. I don't think the Duggar kids ever had that kind of freedom. They don't have privacy, either.

      I'm not saying Josh didn't know what he was doing was wrong. I am certain he did know. But I also think that he was raised in an environment where talk of sex was forbidden. If he does have unhealthy tendencies or predatory instincts toward young girls, it's not like he was ever in a place where he could truthfully discuss those feelings and get help. And from the time he was about 16, his life has been on camera, which is also not healthy or natural.

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