Why I’m Not Laughing at Josh Duggar

Why I’m Not Laughing at Josh Duggar August 20, 2015

So Josh Duggar, the vocal supporter and activist of traditional “family values”, has already admitted to child molestation and now has been caught using AshleyMadison.com to cheat on his wife (and also the heinous offense of watching pornography). 

Hypocrisy from social conservatives isn’t new and many atheists and progressives are jumping for joy at Duggar’s incredible hypocrisy. However, as a progressive atheist myself, I find the whole ordeal quite depressing. First off, his molesting of children is just terrible and the hypocrisy  doesn’t make me feel any better about it. His cheating on his wife isn’t as bad as molesting children, but it’s still really sad. I feel bad for his wife who is essentially a submissive baby machine and totally dependent on Josh.

Beyond the harm Duggar has done himself, I’m also depressed about the culture he represents. When organized religion tries to restrict one of people’s basic needs (a healthy sex life), it’s understandable that such repression leads to unhealthy behavior. Yet, many conservative Christians look up to these kinds of people who promote very unhealthy “family values” and even try to force their homophobic and misogynistic beliefs onto others. What is even more depressing is when such awful people get called out, they can simply ask God for forgiveness and many people will be fine with what they have done (the most liked comment on Duggar’s Facebook post is celebrating his “humility” and “redemption”). Josh’s apology for cheating on his wife is very similar to the one he provided for molesting children and I’m sure many Christians will defend him again.
So I would ask my fellow atheists and progressive minded folks (including progressive theists) to not simply celebrate the downfall of someone this deplorable, but use this an opportunity to challenge a culture that is promoting some unhealthy ideas about sexuality, relationships, and (dare I say) family values.
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  • ZenDruid

    I don’t laugh at train wrecks either, but Josh Duggar seems to have an agenda to reveal more blatant levels of hypocrisy and unethical behavior at every turn. What’s next, I wonder?

    • Random Marvel Fangirl

      The Patrick pic is how I feel if I’m offline for a few days and I see on the news that there’s been yet another conservative scandal revealed. Can’t get online fast enough!!!

  • For help understanding what this culture is like, Peter Mosely shares his experience growing up in a family with similar values as the Duggars.


  • Tailored

    I agree that it’s not the least bit funny and is actually a very sad situation for all Josh’s victims. But the people here who are “celebrating” this “fall from grace” actually are challenging the culture that causes so much personal damage.

    • rockorbe

      It’s not that we mock them (although I can’t hold help myself), they themselves make a mockery of their own system. We just pile on.

      • Tailored

        They really don’t need help in that aspect do they!

  • Hmm, good point. I’m throwing plenty of shade at the Duggars, but you’re right that this is a prime example of how damaging fundamentalism’s views of sex are.

  • Snowflake

    I’m not sure how I felt when I heard the story. Joy and glee was not it, though. There are people out there trying to get the word out about Bill Gothard and ATI. Gothard developed a cult in which this behavior thrives.

    I do feel bad for Anna. I do not think she realizes she has a choice. She is so brainwashed.

  • Otto

    I am only happy in the sense that it continues to shine a light on the “holier than thou” crowd. I don’t wish for Josh and his family to suffer but it is not the lest bit surprising either.

    • rockorbe

      Neither do I. You reap what you sow, and they are reaping some bitter crap.

  • Danny

    We should be asking TLC what they are thinking by giving the Dugger family further access to their televised public platform.

  • Michael Pinecone

    This is well put. Thank you.

  • dezaad

    Celebrating the downfall of a hypocrite **is** using the opportunity to challenge a culture that is promoting unhealthy ideas. How ever did you miss that?

    • Stephen Robert Froeber

      …for those who already think of him as a hypocrite.

      I can assure you, for those in his camp, the celebrations of his downfall just confirm their persecution delusion, and entrench them further in belief.

      It’s the cognitive dissonance (i.e. atheist who is reasonable and making sense?) that causes the sparks of doubt.

      • dezaad

        Actually… mockery has been shown to be a powerful way of persuading people. (When it is backed by the circumstances). Celebrating hypocrisy falls under the realm of mockery, in my book.

        • Stephen Robert Froeber

          I’m genuinely asking on this…do you have any resources/data to show that? I’m open to being convinced.

  • Joe Monte

    I was cackling like a hyena when the whole 19 Kids and Counting empire crashed into a pile of cinders but this Ashley Madison affair on top of the molestation backstory gives me pause. I think we need to take into account that Josh Duggar is a product of a backward, ascetic and misanthropic community and when he was finally turned loose on the world his credentials were stamped “adult” but his skill set was far from it. I wonder if somewhere in there some seeds of doubt are being sown. Suppose a chance encounter with a friendly skeptic would nudge him in the right direction. Given the environment of over-the-top schadenfreude such an opportunity may be less likely.

    • tulips

      Agreed. Additionally, it’s worth remembering that Josh himself is a likely sex abuse survivor (those molesting behaviors in childhood don’t drop out of thin air and he has been exposed to at minimum three confirmed sexual predators) who also effectively had an arranged marriage in his late teens and who has been demonstrably spiraling for years which tends to put a damper on the lulz about his professional and familial hypocrisy. I think it’s important to out the lies, hypocrisy, and dangers (plural!) of the quiverful movement while bearing in mind that people who have been abused and repressed and literally beaten into compliance do very typically have maladaptive behaviors that continue into adulthood. He’s years of intensive therapy away from being a safe person, but making a joke out of his life makes me uncomfortable.

      • Catherine Caldwell-Harris

        I appreciate your perspective — that Josh is a victim also. I like your point about arranged marriage, etc. I did view the video where Josh’s Ashley Madison ‘likes’ were read: and they were cute and mild. He likes to cuddle, hug and give oral sex; seeks a girl who is confident, naughty but also a good listener.

  • rockorbe

    But by mocking them we ARE challenging the status quo just by the fact that only a few hundred years ago mocking them would have landed us in the stockade, or worse. Don’t believe me, ask those under ISIS control, the fine folks at Charlie Hebdo, or the German swing kids who defied the Nazis by dancing to that vile Negro music known as jazz. Eventually, a dialogue regarding the topic will eventually have to be had, but in the meantime, let the jokes commence.

  • advancedatheist

    Josh’s problems aside, for some reason atheists don’t want to state the real reason why they hate the Duggars: They resent the Duggars’ greater vitality. The Duggars will have descendants a century from now while most of their critics alive in 2015 won’t.

    Prejudice against white Southerners also plays a role. And I resent that because I come from those kinds of people, and we have nothing “wrong” with us, despite all the propaganda about the deficiencies of hillbillies, rednecks and crackers. My mother and sister even live in Springdale, Arkansas. They don’t know the Duggars, but they tell me that they see members of this family in public a lot – easy to do in a small town, with so many of them.

    Charles Darwin and his wife Emma, despite their late start (these two cousins married around the time they both turned 30), managed to produce ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Apparently Charles and Emma have about 100 descendants alive today. If Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar said that they admired the Darwins and they wanted to follow their example, you really have to wonder if atheists would despise them so much.

    • Robin

      A single unaltered house-cat can produce hundreds of genetic descendants in a single year. That doesn’t mean I resent her vitality. Don’t you mean fertility? Or perhaps you mean genetic success. Either way comparing the Duggars to the Darwins makes no sense. We can’t
      know what the Darwins would have done had they access to affordable reliable and safe contraception. More importantly Darwin has a legacy and will be remembered many centuries into the future because of his distinguished scientific accomplishments, not because of his successful reproduction.

    • terrilynnmerritts

      That is nonsense. I could have had 20 kids if I was an idiot but I am not a breeding cow and we have used birth control pills and kept a reasonable sized family. Why would I or anyone else in their right mind give a rip about how many descendants we have? I want to leave my own very real legacy and not by breeding a bunch of kids. Darwin and his wife did not have access to the birth control we now have. Incidentally, I am a Southerner, born and raised in the South and living here now and am no hillbilly, cracker (name given to “poor white uneducated trash”), or redneck.

    • Teto85

      No matter how much you white knight them, they still won’t sleep with you.

  • terrilynnmerritts

    Well, I am laughing. The Duggars, including Josh, have made it their life’s work to demonize Atheists, gays, etc as being morally deficient and themselves as being holier than thou.

  • Teto85

    Yeah. I’m not gonna laugh about it until Anna Duggar channels Lorena Bobbitt some evening. Then I’ll be all ROTFLMAO for a day or two. Until then I’ll just keep my laughter inside. Until Josh’s computer is taken and searched like Jared Fogle’s.