Yesterday I noted that Josh Duggar, whose name has been linked to the Ashley Madison customer database leak, had not responded to any allegations against him. Well, today he has. It’s a doozy of a story all by itself.
Here’s the statement as it stands right now on the Duggars’ official site:
He uses all the traditional fundagelical spin-doctoring words and dog-whistles that his crowd so loves. He is “grieved” for what his “sin” has caused. He chose his “actions” and is now facing the “consequences” (oh my stars and garters, his crowd does so love that word)–and he’s just now “learning” this “the hard way” because his parents didn’t spend most of his childhood pounding that lesson into him.
The spin-doctoring gets especially weird here. He concedes that he’s a hypocrite and says he was “unfaithful” to his wife, but doesn’t specify what he did to be unfaithful. In fundagelical terms, remember, feelings and impulses are the exact same thing as actual deeds. So here, “unfaithful” could mean he out-and-out did the dirty with someone who wasn’t his wife. Or it could mean that he really liked porn–or that he spent his $1000 at Ashley Madison sending pathetic text messages to strange women in desperate hopes of finding a fuckbuddy.
The Five Ds of Scandal.
Just like Dodgeball had its five Ds (dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge), fundagelicals caught being total hypocrites have their own strategy guide for their inevitable unmasking. Sorry, they don’t all start with “D”, but we ain’t the boss of them.
He didn’t do this terrible thing he totally got caught doing. “His sin” did it. He might be ashamed of his double life, but the entity that caused all that “hurt, pain and disgrace”* wasn’t him. It was the sin.
2. The Jesus Card.
He’s “grieved” that “his sin” caused all that “hurt, pain and disgrace”* to his wife and family, but he’s even more grieved about all the “hurt, pain and disgrace”* that “his sin” caused to other Christians. Because fuck the wife and fam, right? He’s echoing fundagelical teachings about marriage here–specifically the one about how Jesus is the central pillar to people’s marriages.
What actually did he say he actually did here? The “unfaithful” thing, as noted, might mean anything at all. He led a “double life”–but what does that actually mean? He doesn’t talk much about anything specific at all here. He refers to his hypocrisy as “hiding [his] own personal failures”–but doesn’t say what that failure was. He was “a bad example” to other people–how?
If someone doesn’t speak fluent fundamentalist Christianese, chances are that Josh Duggar’s entire statement will simply sound a little corporate-ish to that person. But to those who are fluent in the lingo, his statement will sound less like a tail-between-the-legs confession and more like a ringing endorsement of the very “faith and family values” message that totally failed to keep Josh Duggar on the straight-and-narrow path. By stating that he learned the Christian message of punishment-for-unapproved-sexuality “the hard way,” he vindicates the teaching itself and holds it up as perfect and worth continuing to pursue. He failed to live up to the teaching; the teaching itself however is not the problem. He is. I don’t know if those who’ve never lived inside the Christian bubble will notice that affirmation, but I sure did.
5. Totally skewed priorities.
Besides his strange assertion that he grieves far more for offending Christians generally than he does for offending his own wife, he also echoes the fundagelical teaching about porn being the worst thing ever for any man to do (because women never look at porn or even really like sex at all, obviously). Porn is about as victimless a “sin” as there ever could be–and about as universal a sin as one could hope to find in American Christendom, but that’s just about what makes it such an ideal candidate for Christian leaders to fight. Christianity condemns people for stuff that is intrinsically human–that’s why it’s so powerful a tool of manipulation and control.
Let’s also not forget that–like with his previous crocodile tears shed over his past sexually abusing his sisters–he didn’t actually apologize until he got caught. If nobody had ever found out about his hypocrisy with Ashley Madison, don’t even imagine for a second that he’d have ever said a word about it.
Secrets and lies are the foundation of his entire religious ideology.
That’s not even the worst part.
This artfully-crafted confession and its dips, dives, and dodges isn’t even the worst part of Josh Duggar’s public statement.
As Gawker points out, the statement itself went through some interesting changes in a short couple of hours after it was initially posted.
For example, in the paragraph about how he was “hiding [his] own personal failings,” originally that said the following: “The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country, in my heart I had allowed Satan to build a fortress that no one knew about.” I can see why that got nixed; though it’s very strong on Christianese and repeats some dog-whistle terms that his audience will definitely understand (and further distances Josh Duggar from his own actions), it’s a little hardcore for most people.
And his original statement also included a reference to his sex abuse scandal: “I brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans** of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust.” I can absolutely see why that bit got axed–I’m sure a lot of folks have some questions about that 14-15 figure, and it doesn’t actually help him much to bring it up. He’s one of the most famous sex abusers in the country at this point.
I guess in the end it’s good he made some kind of statement–and I’m not surprised that it ended up in the form it did or took the turns it did.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for any real self-introspection or even a real apology from this guy.
I don’t think he’s even capable of doing either one of those things.
But more than that, he’s still just playing the game here. That’s what he’s always been doing. Blaming his “sin nature” for his own shortcomings, affirming his parents’ teachings even though those teachings have categorically failed him and everyone around him at every single step of his life, even the bit at the end asking people to forgive him–all of that is as expected and as scripted as if he were hopping from one pre-printed footprint sticker to the next on a dance-class floor.
I’m guessing the next move is going to be some kind of “accountability” or “reconciliation” plan meant to rehabilitate him and make him look respectable enough to insert him back into the American consciousness. Until pretty recently that worked wonders. I still don’t think some of the really egregious hypocrites have gotten back into the good graces of Christians generally–Ted Haggard has a church again but he’s keeping a much lower profile nowadays, while Mark Driscoll is apparently moving to Phoenix after figuring out that he wasn’t a rock star anymore with quite a few of his former fans. There was a time when a megapastor or televangelist could just cry a lot on TV and still keep bangerz numbers together. Some of the old-school big names still can. But those targeting younger Christians may well find that those tactics aren’t universally successful anymore.
I’m really hoping that this is the end of the line for Jim Bob, Michelle, and Josh Duggar–and their entire sick movement generally. For a while it might have amused people to look at the big ol’ family and how hard it was for them to do grocery shopping or whatever, but I really hope that every time someone sees those Stepford-Wife robotic smiles plastered on the women’s faces and the weird creeptastic Jesus Smiles on the men that there’s that instant of wondering about the pain and dysfunction hidden back there.
But grifters gotta grift. Without his reality-TV income and the money coming in from associated ventures, I’m not sure Jim Bob actually has a way of affording his family’s palatial estate (estates, actually; his married daughters live in huge houses owned by Daddy) even with his considerable skill in recognizing and exploiting the angle. I’m really not sure how he’s going to keep them in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. So yes, I’m sure there’s a reason why Jim Bob and Michelle describe the loss of their show in the exact same terms they describe finding out that their son paid a ton of money to Ashley Madison–saying in both cases that their “hearts broke.” Yes, I’m totally sure their hearts did break.
Before we break out the champagne, though, let’s try to remember that not only are there a metric butt-ton of kids still in that sick and diseased household being taught the same shit that produced Josh and his victims, but that their equally sick and diseased cult ideology is still really popular–which means there are even more kids like Josh and his victims out there in fundagelical households. Remember, one major theme in the family’s denialism about Josh’s sex abuse involved how much lighter and easier their family had it compared to other Quiverfull families. They repeated that assertion numerous times in their various interviews–with even the victims of Josh’s abuse implying that other families had sons even more grabby and gropey than he was and daughters who were victimized and assaulted even worse than they had been.
The idea that such a predator might be also peeking at an infidelity website sounds almost ludicrously insignificant compared to everything else he did, but it’s part and parcel of the failure of the Quiverfull message, so yes, we are talking about it.
Here’s the part that I keep shaking my head over in total dumbfounded shock.
All this is happening because Josh Duggar wanted to take a fucking bubble bath with a skinny lady, get a blowjob, and maybe figure out what a sex toy was. No, really; these utterly normal, routine activities figure prominently in his self-chosen list of desires on Ashley Madison. Stuff most people with decent relationships and a fairly healthy attitude toward sex just consider Wednesday-night pleasantness is stuff he put his entire life’s goals and aspirations at risk to experience for himself. He wasn’t looking for anything really off-beat or questionable (other than the whole adultery thing)–he just wanted a sex life most of us would consider perfectly normal.
Moreover, he was so repressed and so poorly-taught that these activities were still total mysteries to him when he was in his mid-20s and had been married for years.
I don’t know about you, but I find that whole idea sad, pathetic, and not in the least surprising. Nor am I surprised that Josh Duggar allowed his monthly subscription to Ashley Madison lapse around May this year, which is of course when it came out that he sexually abused a bunch of little girls in his teens.
So far, nothing too weird. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
* Apparently fundie-homeschooling parents don’t teach their kids about the Oxford comma. I guess we all have our grammar shortcomings.
** I had to retype that sentence and I want you all to know how hard it was not to stick a comma in there.