Saturday, May 23, 2015

Reality TV: Child Molesters, a Presidential Candidate, the Family Research Council, and Who Knows How Many Kids and Counting

It started out on cable as, "The Learning Channel." Then it began to morph because, quite frankly, learning and television are rarely a successful combination in the United States. In fact you can argue the medium was designed specifically to repress the act of learning. Once the people in charge of "The Learning Channel" came to this terrible realization they dumped the whole learning part of the title. The network was born again as TLC. Then it began running shows which appeal to that frighteningly large portion of the population who are not just entranced with the utter weirdness loosely defined as "reality," but fully participate in the lifestyle.

Let's face it, when you have a series titled "Toddlers and Tiaras," that is such a ratings hit it inspires a spin off called, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," you are attracting a demographic which is heavily invested in the mobile housing industry.

There is, however, an inherent problem when your programming depends on actual loons. While you're saving money on writers and actors, you run the risk of watching in horror when one of your cast members goes off her nut. as the despicable Mama June, the mother of Honey Boo Boo did. The network dropped the show after she renewed a relationship with a guy who had previously molested one of her daughters and had done time on similar charges in connection with other underage girls.

Now TLC has landed right back in the maelstrom. It turns out one of the members of the Arkansas Duggars featured in "19 Kids and Counting," also has an unsavory past when it comes to underage girls.

Josh Duggar, the 27 year old son of Jim Bob and Michelle came clean this week. After an ugly media report surfaced he admitted to, "unexcusable,"  behavior 12 or so years ago when he was a teenager. The behavior he was talking about involved  fondling the breasts and genitals of at least five underage girls, some of whom were his sisters.

The outcry was instant and shrill. The noise was so intense even a pseudo republican candidate for the presidency felt the need to step in. Former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, a friend of the Duggar family, took the press to task over the revelation. He said, in part, "Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things." He then went on to call the media blood thirsty a couple of times and sternly lectured everyone that minors make decisions which aren't mature and by the way, thanks to counseling and God Almighty, Josh is now a decent person who doesn't deserve public condemnation.

Yeah, yeah, judge not lest ye be judged, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, forgive and forget and all that other good stuff. Actually, if Josh Duggar had simply been some rube on another "reality show," geared toward dim wits all this would have probably blown over without much ado.

The problem is until Thursday young Mr. Duggar was the Executive Director of Family Research Council Action. It is the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council which was founded by James Dobson and is now run by right wing holy man Tony Perkins. The FRC spends much of its time railing on about the dangers of homosexuality, gay marriage, stem cell research, the HPV vaccine, abortion, birth control, sex education, evolution, and pre marital sex.

In 2010 Wikipedia notes a senior FRC researcher for policy, Peter Spriggs went on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" show and claimed gay behavior should be outlawed and "criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior should be enforced." The organization also links homosexuality directly to pedophilia--you know--the practice of sexually molesting underage boys and girls.


Confusion is roiling like a pot of boiling water. Reports are coming in fast and furious. TLC dropped the show, but now they may be considering reviving it next year, sans Josh. Or, they might continue it this year, do some artful editing to delete his presence and rename it "18 Kids and Counting" as if he doesn't even exist. Another outlet is saying, ol' Mama June, always in need of hard cash and fresh press, is threatening to sue the network. The logic being they dumped her show because of a child molester, but it appears they aren't unloading on the Duggars even though they have one too. One can almost hear her lawyer screaming discrimination in some Arkansas courtroom.

The only thing certain at the moment is Josh Duggar resigned from his job at the FRC and everyone there looks to be glad he is gone. Hey, you can talk the talk only so long as your people walk the walk. Once the shit hits the fan it's best to cut your losses as quickly as possible and keep a low profile until things blow over.

It is, after all, the nature of the business.


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