In light of the revelation that the oldest Duggar, as a teenager, committed inappropriate and illegal acts against five girls, TLC elected to cancel the show 19 Kids and Counting.
I was a huge fan of the show.
Now, I am not the kind of Christian depicted in the show. In fact, I found a lot of the show offensive.
I worried about the idea of courting instead of dating. (To me, courting seems more like an arranged marriage, while dating seems more self-selected.) I have no issues with big families, but 19 seems enough to risk the life of mom and new babies. Also with 19 kids, there just isn't any way to give any child enough attention. I worried about the females. I wondered what kind of abuse any of the children would face if they were gay or lesbian. Would there be a shunning? Would they be forced to hide or lie? Would the kids ever learn science?
But I love my anthropology classes in college, and for me, watching the Duggars was a form of education. I tried to understand people who were very different from me. In addition, as a productivity blogger, how the household was organized was fascinating. The social makeup of the families' mini-society was intriguing.
But I a pro-equality for women and I am profoundly against child abuse and neglect.
Even putting aside the teenage male's actions (which were not okay, just to say it explicitly), I couldn't disagree with the cancellation of the show. Just cutting the offender from the show would not be enough. After all, the parents did NOT stop the offender from contact with the victims.
The parents were adults when the offenses happened. They were in charge. Once they found out about the abuse, it was neglect to NOT keep the offender away from the females in the household.
So, for several days, I said nothing.
But something was nagging me.
No, I did not think that because they were Christian and forgiven by God (assuming, for argument's sake, that they were forgiven) that viewers should forgive them. My children watched that show (albeit with mom whispering, "no, Ander, sex is not like putting together Legos" and "no, Loki, they are wrong about when the Earth was created"). They hid this criminal activity from me, and my children now want to know why this is in the media all the time. What do I say? "These nice looking people are monsters?" My children would never trust again.
No, I did not think that the parents were innocent. If anything, a 14 year old can, understandably, do really stupid stuff. At 14, stupid is kind of the norm. The parents were the ones who failed to take appropriate action (which, for me, means a minimum of NOT ALLOWING CONTACT WITH THE VICTIMS).
But what about the victims?
It is reasonable to assume that the female Duggars got paid a lot per episode. 19 Kids was their job. Those weddings and childbirths were filmed with compensation.
That's right. TLC canceled the employment of the innocent victims.
How is that okay?
Did they get a choice in the matter? Did the young ladies get to decide if they wanted to continue with the show? Did TLC continue to pay the victims, even if they stopped filming?
I don't know those answers.
But I certainly hope the offense against these young women was not compounded by them losing their jobs for having been harmed.
TLC could do a spin-off with the women featured (other than the mom, who had an obligation to protect her daughters). That seems much more reasonable than taking away the employment of the victims for the offense of being molested, doesn't it?