Seven Ethics Observations On The Josh Duggar Child Molestation Revelations

19 kids

Yes, this is an Ethics Train Wreck.

First, some background:

“19 Kids and Counting” is another reality show featuring the exploitation of children for their parents fame and profit broadcast by the  cable channel TLC, the same shameless bunch that bought us “Jon and Kate Plus 8” and the trashy Honey Boo-Boo Bunch.It began as “17 Kids and Counting,” became “18 Kids and Counting,” and but for this emerging fiasco, might have kept adding numbers, and little unpaid performers,  ad infinitum.  The show featured the godly, conservative, fertile Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their nine girls and ten boys, all of whose names begin with the letter “J.” Since the show began, three of the children have been married and several grandchildren have been born. The series began on September 29, 2008.  February 17, 2015 marked Season 10.

In response to emerging reports that oldest son Dugger son Josh, now 27, was once accused of molesting five underage girls as a teen, Josh Duggar, his wife Anna, and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle jointly explained the circumstances, which had not been revealed outside the family until now. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh said  in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

Josh then resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had this to say about their son:

“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. 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. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.”

TLC cancelled the show. It said, on its Facebook page,

“Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time”

Then GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued his own Facebook statement in support of Josh and the family:

“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 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. 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. 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.”

Observations: Continue reading

Unethical Feature: “Top 10 People Who Don’t Deserve To Be Millionaires”

And leave Bubbles alone.

I know: it’s a feature, it’s a gag, it’s not meant to be taken seriously. I don’t care: the underlying attitude behind The Daily Caller’s recent slideshow, “Top 10 People Who Don’t Deserve To Be Millionaires” is too common these days to be emulated, even in half or whole jest. The belief that citizens of the U.S. “don’t deserve” to have the money they do is at the root of toxic politics, bad economic policy, class resentment and self-excused jealousy, and it shouldn’t be encouraged. If there is a genuine and persuasive argument to be made that people don’t deserve the money they earn, then make it, and you have to do better than “you didn’t build that!”

Taylor Bigler, the Caller’s entertainment editor who compiled the list, doesn’t. She just appeals to jealousy, as if nobody really really does resent people who have made more money than they have so its fine to pretend they do. “Now, some people are millionaires because they are ambitious and kept their noses to the grindstone,” she says. “Those people certainly deserve their hard-earned success. But honestly, there are many other people who are millionaires that simply don’t deserve to be.” Like? Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Candies’ Foundation and Bristol Palin

" Hi! I'm Kim Kardashian, here to tell you that making a sex tape is a terrible mistake, even though my own sex tape made me and my two equally shallow sisters rich celebrities. Don't make the same mistake I did. Really. Trust me."

The Candie’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that, according to its website,

“…works to shape the way youth in America think about teen pregnancy and parenthood. We are an operating foundation rather than a grant-making foundation. The foundation develops and runs communication campaigns to raise awareness about, and motivate teens to prevent, teen pregnancy.”

The main source of its message to teens right now is that “Dancing With The Stars” icon, Bristol Palin. Palin, now 20, qualified herself for the assignment of speaking to teens about the importance of avoiding getting pregnant by getting pregnant when she was 16, and doing it center stage, while her mother was the Governor of Alaska. Thus using her position in Alaska’s first family to add prestige to the role of unwed teenage mother in that state, Bristol went on to national prominence as Sarah Palin campaigned for Vice President on the GOP ticket, with Bristol demonstrating during and after that jaunt that marrying the father of your child might not be such a good idea either, since he might be, as in the case of Bristol’s short-term fiancee, Levi Johnston, an immature, selfish, publicity-seeking dimwit.

Having done maximum damage to everyone but herself by becoming pregnant (with significant help from Levi, naturally), unwed mother Bristol Palin parlayed her own irresponsible behavior into the job of spokeswoman for The Candie’s Foundation. Well, her mother, I think it is fair to say, did the parlaying. It never hurts to help a prominent and rising cult political figure’s wayward offspring. Who knows when you might need a favor…or have an unemployable offspring of your own?

Bristol goes around the country talking with students and other teenagers, reminding them that they are too young to have kids, and that they should wait because it will screw up their lives. Of course, all of these teenagers know that the unwed, former teen mother telling them this has absolutely no credibility, and in fact represents the much more optimistic ( and completely unrealistic for anyone whose family isn’t rich and/or famous) position  that you can have a baby in your teens, get on lots of magazine covers, have your mother get you a job traveling around the country talking about it while someone else takes care of the baby, and become a celebrity in the bargain. Neat-o! Continue reading

Ethics Hero: “Dancing With The Stars” Judge Bruno Tonioli

Bruno Tonioli, one of the judges on “Dancing With The Stars,” gave celebrity dance contestant Michael Bolton a lousy score for his lousy quickstep to the tune of “Hound Dog”with partner Chelsie Hightower, and reportedly Bolton’s  fellow dancing celebrities were “enraged”—especially since Tonioli said the performance was the “worst” dance he’s seen in 11 seasons. That may have been a little harsh, but not by much. His dancing was arguably not worse than, say, Tucker Carlson of a few seasons back, who never got out of a chair. Still, among past dance-challenged contestants who actually got on their feet, Bolton was about as bad as it gets. He made Kate Gosselin look like Cyd Charisse by comparison. Continue reading

Rewarding Wrongdoers to Corrupt Us All

It would be wonderful if Steven Slater would go before the cameras and say,

“I want to apologize to Jet Blue and its passengers for my conduct. I was frustrated and emotionally over-wrought, and I wrongly endangered the air travelers, betrayed by co-workers, and embarrassed my employers. I am not a folk hero or a role model. I am ordinary human being who lost control of his emotions, and behaved badly. I am sorry. If my meltdown contributes to a national dialogue that reminds people that we need to be civil patient and kind to one another, then at least something productive will have come out of an incident that I sincerely regret.”

That’s not going to happen. Continue reading

Petersen Was Right: “Jon & Kate” Exploited Their Kids

Back when everyone was buzzing about TLC’s reality show “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” long before the dark side of the show began to emerge, before the messy divorce of the couple, before Kate was revealed as a castrating control freak and Jon showed himself to have the maturity of a 12-year-old, and long, long before Kate demonstrated that she may be the least watchable dancer ever to appear in televised dance show, child performer advocate Paul Petersen was sounding the alarm that the show violated child labor laws. Reality show producers sneak in through loop-holes in the laws regulating scripted shows, and Petersen, to  nasty derision from some quarters, kept making the point that what the Gosselins were doing with their eight children was against the law, harmful to them, and wrong.

Now that the show is off the air, Pennsylvania, where it was filmed, has finally gotten around to looking into Petersen’s allegations, and guess what? He was right all the time. Continue reading


There is apparently is little that a politician can do today that is so uncivil, embarrassing or undignified that partisans won’t cheer it, and that fundraisers and marketers unencumbered by things such as values, responsibility, and shame won’t try to use to raise money. Call the President a liar during his State of the Union Address? Fundraising gold!  Shout “Baby killer!” on the floor of the House? Great!! Use it to get those checks flowing!

Now, not to be outdone by the shameless venality of the GOP, Democrats are using Joe Biden’s resort to gutter-speech, to the President, during a formal ceremony, on national television, as part of a new fundraising pitch.  CNN reports that Democrat donors who give at least $25 to the cause will receive “a limited edition ‘Health Reform is a BFD’ T-shirt in a super-soft, fine jersey (men’s) or baby rib (women’s) cotton fabric,” according to a new fundraising page posted on the website of Organizing For America, the White House political group housed in the National Democratic Committee. Continue reading