More advertisers bail out of Duggar show

27 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

’19 Kids and Counting’ Loses Advertisers Following Josh Duggar Scandal.

Payless ShoeSource and Choice Hotels tweet-announced Tuesday they are pulling their ads from the top-rated 19 Kids and Counting show in the wake of last week’s scandalous revelations about eldest son Josh Duggar’s past molesting of underage girls.On his ESPN radio show Friday (listen here), Tony Kornheiser paused for a moment to analyze the news that Josh Duggar, the “19 Kids and Counting” reality-show star, was in trouble over reports that he had sexually abused at least five children when he was a teenager.Between Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi, Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile, Terry Richardson, Woody Allen, like half the British government or something, and, most recently, American schlock TV star Josh Duggar, one might say that it has been a rough couple of years for famous men accused of sexual impropriety.

Just days before reports resurfaced alleging that her husband molested five girls 12 years ago, Anna Duggar shared a mysterious message about forgiveness on social media. The claims about Josh Duggar first came to light on May 21, when In Touch Weekly Magazine disclosed the results of a police report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Tony worked his way through the Duggar story, wondering whether it was “reasonable” that Duggar should be “driven from his job,” while his on-the-air companions attempted to persuade him that indeed it was because the FRC is a conservative lobbying organization. According to information in the police report, the In Touch story says, Josh Duggar, who’s now 27, was years ago “investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Others saw their victims come forward only to be laughed off and dismissed by the culture at large – victims forced to watch the world fawn over their abusers while the statute of limitations achingly slipped away.

None except for Ghomeshi, Harris and perhaps Cosby have experienced significant damage to their careers, and even those who are facing criminal charges got to spend the previous years doing exactly as they pleased, (allegedly) flush with the illusion of untouchability, leveraging their fame and power while freely victimising others for sport and pleasure. In a statement issued exclusively to PEOPLE in the aftermath, Anna said: “I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. The network has issued only one official statement, saying it was “deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation.” The network is getting conflicting advice on Change.org: One petition calls on TLC and its parent company, Discovery, to cancel the show, but a new one appeared Tuesday seeking to save it. Kornheiser mentioned that he believed that Duggar, now a 27-year-old father of three with another on the way, and his family had had “counseling,” which wasn’t exactly spot-on. “If you hold out the reasonable possibility that something therapeutic can change your life, then everyone should have the opportunity to be changed for the better, right?” Kornheiser is being pummeled by internet enthusiasts, and probably rightly so, but he most likely was reacting to the angry chorus of voices rather than condoning something abhorrent.

Making the molestation allegations even more troubling, In Touch also reports, is the revelation that “four of the now-27-year-old’s underage victims lived in his parents Jim Bob and Michelle’s Springdale, Ark. home at the time of incidents, meaning they were most likely his younger sisters.” On Facebook, members of the Duggar family responded to the reports. The risk of doing that in the moment is that, occasionally, the angry mob has a good point and pushing back against it without having all the information can change the focus to you. News of Duggar’s past actions surfaced Thursday and the 27-year-old, who is now married with three children, immediately issued a statement apologizing. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” he said. “I hurt others, including my family and close friends.

Still, the majority of people speaking out on the petition website, not to mention on Twitter and Facebook and in unscientific man-on-the-street polls on MSNBC, want the show to be history, right now. 19 Kids has been under fire since last year, when a Change.org petition gathered nearly 195,000 signatures to end what it called “fear mongering” by the Duggars against gay people. But its alliance with conservatives causes — Josh Duggar was a Washington lobbyist against gay marriage before he hurriedly resigned last week — has brought criticism along with fame. In October, the network canceled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo shortly after allegations surfaced about a romantic relationship between series matriarch June “Mama June” Shannon and a man convicted of child molestation.

When Michelle Duggar joined a campaign against transgender restroom rights in Fayetteville, Ark., last year, suggesting trans people are “child predators,” it sparked the first cancel-the-show petitions. Josh has already been defended by rightwing Christians as high-profile as presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who called the sexual assault of five children a “mistake” made by a “good [person]”.

One pastor’s wife who also subscribes to the Duggars’ “Quiverfull” movement (which, apparently, is where you pretend your nutsack is a quiver and your penis is a stout longbow and your wife is a pile of hay or rags that you shoot sperm arrows into), argued that Josh was just “playing doctor” and deserves to be “left alone to live a good life”. It strains imagination to wonder where these supposed pillars of morality actually draw the line. (A transgender person going to the bathroom, I guess.) What’s frightening is that we’re so accustomed to giving powerful, famous men the benefit of the doubt that, on a cultural level, we treat men’s reputations with the same reverence as victims’ safety. “Sure, it’s important to protect the vulnerable and sexually traumatised or whatever, but what about that nice man’s TV show? You can’t just take away a man’s stuff!” The result is a system in which victims often find themselves on trial in their own rape proceedings; a culture in which silence is incentivised and speaking out is often punished; a world in which we have ample vocabulary for comforting the accused (“I’m waiting to hear all the facts,” “we can’t jump to conclusions,” “who can even make sense of consent these days?”) but precious little for victims (when’s the last time you heard a simple, unqualified “I believe you” outside of the feminist blogosphere?).

So, to any of Josh Duggar’s alleged victims, to anyone raised in a purity culture that blamed and shamed you for your own victimisation, to anyone whose trauma has been sidelined while your abuser’s feelings are placed centre-stage, to anyone thinking of speaking up and anyone who feels like they can’t: I believe you. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving.

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