Let’s get this straight: Joshua Duggar, the 27-year-old eldest son of the “19 and Counting” Duggar clan, has recently been ousted for “fondling the breasts and genitalia” of 4 sisters and a friend 13 years ago when he was a 14-year-old minor. Since the information and Joshua’s subsequent apology came out, there has been a media firestorm against the entire Duggar family run with the intensity of a witch hunt.
A few questions we should all ask ourselves: Would the media have latched onto this case if the offender was female? How about if the offender was a "Clinton" or an "Obama," rather than a "Duggar?" Not to imply Chelsea or either of the Obama girls in any scandal, but you do see my point — don’t you? Suppose information leaked that Chelsea Clinton had engaged in “sexual touching” over a decade ago when she was a teenager. Media outlets would have turned the other cheek. They’d have ignored the information out of respect for Chelsea and her family. They would have pardoned her because she’s female and because the error occurred when she was a minor. Had any media outlet reported the information, the outlet itself would have been decried for its poor taste.
Of course, I realize the irony of the Joshua Duggar story in light of the fact that his family has taken a very public stance for chastity (they’re against premarital sex, artificial birth control and gay marriage). Their adult children, including Joshua, have even gone so far as to not kiss their own spouses until their specific wedding days. I get it. I see the irony. But what I see even more than the irony is the Duggar's humanity. Even Duggars make horrible mistakes. And they never claimed otherwise.
Personally, I experienced this kind of serious “mistake” at the hands of a friend when I was a Kindergartener. The friend’s 14-year-old step brother had led her in some sexual touching and she, in turn, showed me. There was a tense meeting of minds when my friend and I made our parents aware of the situation. Fortunately, they handled the occurrence with loving grace and gave us all a clear set of guidelines to guard the privacy of our own bodies.
I am in no way belittling the gravity of what happened to me or to the girls involved in the Duggar incidences, but I do mean to make the point that such occurrences in our day in age and in our hyper-sexualized culture are not uncommon.
I remember how my friend's 14-year-old brother cried with shame and remorse for what he'd done. From what I understand, he never repeated his awful mistake again. True, my friend's brother was a bit old for “playing doctor,” but he hadn’t used force against his sister. He hadn’t even told her to keep his actions a secret. He was a young, curious teenager and he had made a grave error. Though I have no proof, and I make the following statement based purely on what I remember from the boy's contrition and the wholesomeness of the family from whence he came: I highly doubt his actions carried into or had any effect on his adult life -- just like Joshua Duggar.
I say this judging from the fact that not one other woman has come forward with a complaint against Joshua post his initial teenage mistakes. That together with the fact that he didn't even kiss his own wife until his wedding day, proves his verbalized repentance and his pursuit of chastity as genuine.
And even though I realize the scrutiny he faces is part and parcel with welcoming the media into his life -- especially as a voice for traditional conservatism -- I think he's being treated unfairly, and I'm truly sorry for him.
— Sarah Johnson
Johnson lives with her family in the coal region of Pennsylvania where thy stop through creek beds and wooded glens, seeking out the wonder. When she is not prying briars out of socks, Johnson enjoys reading, writing dramatic teen novels and occasionally keeping a blog: www.fishsticksonfriday.blogspot.com