In a March 22nd Facebook post, Huckabee voiced his support for the Duggars in a manner that minimize the situation. I'd like to parse Huckabee's Facebook post, in which he insisted that the abuse was in the past and blasted the "blood-thirsty" media for its attention to the scandal.
First, Huckabee described Josh Duggar's abusive behavior as "inexcusable" but not "unforgivable".
"Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn’t mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities."No, they weren't. According to In Touch Weekly, Jim Bob Duggar told police that he's learned about Josh's abusive behavior in 2002, but did not have Josh speak with Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens until 2003. Before taking Josh to Hutchens, Jim Bob discussed the matter with church elders, but did not seek professional help for his son. What, if any, support was shown to Josh's victims remains unknown. The family did not deal with the abuse appropriately, and instead of truly being "honest and open about it", they kept it under wraps for years.
Next, Huckabee chided the "blood-thirsty media" for "sensationalizing" the scandal, insisting that "Good people make mistakes".
"No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one's judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility."Mike, sexual abuse is not a "mistake"; it's a morally reprehensible act and crime. Even if Josh's judgment was immature, his behavior was evidence of a grave problem that his parents refused to take seriously. Furthermore, how do we know that Josh's predatory impulses were ever truly addressed? The Duggars followed Bill Gothard, and from what we know about Gothard's Advanced Training Institute, it's unlikely that Josh received sound advice about his behavior.
Sexual abuse is a serious matter, and the media has every right to devote attention to the scandal. When the stars of 19 Kids and Counting are implicated in a morally reprehensible scandal, of course the media should report on the matter. The scandal shattered the Duggar's carefully crafted image of a wholesome Christian family and exposed their hypocrisy in demonizing LGBTQ people as supposed predators.
Huckabee argued that the media was revictimizing Josh's victims by bringing up the abuse.
"Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims."In a breathtaking reversal, Huckabee accused the media of victimizing Josh's victims by drawing attention to the abuse. By deflecting attention and blame onto the media, Huckabee minimized Josh Duggar's behavior.
Huckabee concludes his statement by reminding readers that no one is perfect, and that we are all sinners.
"Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support."While no one is perfect, most people do not molest children. Most people do not utterly mishandle and obscure sexual abuse. The Josh Duggar scandal is not about imperfection, but about a serious crime against five children. Huckabee's arguments sounded suspiciously like sin-leveling, which holds all sinners as equally guilty and ignores the fact that some sins are far worse than others. His refusal to recognize the gravity of the situation floored me.
Huckabee's insensitive statement is yet another example of a religious figure minimizing abuse, deflecting focus, and failing to hold guilty parties accountable. His words boil down to the same excuses that people use when closing ranks around predators: it's in the past ... he said he was sorry .. you're a sinner too so shut up ... stop attacking this poor man! This pattern plays out in too many churches when abuse victims seek help, and now it has played out on Huckabee's Facebook page.
(Hat tip to CNN and Right Wing Watch.)
5/23/15 UPDATE: Raw Story is reporting that Huckabee's Facebook followers are blasting him for defending the Duggars. Even conservative Christians can't swallow Huckabee's defense of Josh, Jim Bob, and Michelle.