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Editor's Letter: Beware the Snake-Oil Slingers

Editor's Letter: Beware the Snake-Oil Slingers

It came to light in May that Josh Duggar, the eldest child of the family depicted in TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, had years ago thrice confessed to his father Jim Bob Duggar that he’d sexually abused four of his sisters and a family friend when he was a teenager.

The abuse was appalling, to be sure. But it matters to you and me that Duggar was working as executive director of the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm FRC Action, the hate group that routinely defames LGBT people and parrots lies and discredited research calling gay and lesbian parents child molesters; the goal is to foment public opinion against pro-equality legislation. It also matters that the Duggars continually wade into GOP politics to wage war against LGBTs. In August of last year Josh’s mother, Michelle, recorded a robocall that went out to voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, arguing against an LGBT civil rights ordinance, claiming that transgender people are child predators coming after little girls; the family donated tens of thousands of dollars to the repeal effort, which was ultimately successful — a setback for LGBT Fayetteville residents.

The temerity and rank hypocrisy is maddening on so many levels. Josh Duggar’s profession was to proclaim to the world that you and I as LGBT people are a danger to children, when he — a straight, patriarchial, Christian man — was an actual danger to children. The Duggars are the most prominent family proponents of the retrograde and isolating Quiverfull philosophy that rejects birth control and women’s free agency. They didn’t say whether Josh’s abuse victims were offered therapeutic help (beyond counseling that blames the victims and tells them God compensates abuse victims with enhanced spiritual powers). Maybe in Quiverfull houses girls don’t warrant it. This is sanctimonious and dangerous garbage.

Meanwhile the fall of Dennis Hastert continues.


Hastert was selected to be speaker of the House of Representatives and to preside over the Clinton impeachment procedings, after having allegedly forced himself on more than one male high school student when he was a wrestling coach. This came to light when it was discovered he was being blackmailed for hush money. (Hastert was chosen as speaker when Newt Gingrich had to step down for cheating on his second wife and runner-up Bob Livingston was threatened with a 
Hustler exposé for his own extramarital activities.)

As speaker, Hastert twice tried to get the House to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, including retroactively dismantling marriages already legally perfomed — and all the while after having had same-sex relations. The hypocrisy is twofold: there’s the attempt to hold President Clinton accountable for a consensual affair while having perpetrated a non-consensual act on a student; and there’s his alleged participation in gay sexual activity (notably, in his case, in a distinct power imbalance).

And in Ireland, which is a nominally Catholic country (though that’s changing quickly), the Catholic church, up until the historic election in which an entire nation chose overwhelmingly to enact marriage equality for queer people, was spelling out gloom and doom, threatening voters in its capacity as an arbiter of morals. But a series of clerical pedophile scandals has certainly brought an end to the church’s iron grip over social affairs in Ireland. The church has ceded the moral high ground, not by choice, but certainly via its own actions.

We must beware those snake oil slingers who proclaim to all the world that they alone hold the keys to a virtuous or holy existence — one that does not include LGBT lives. They are hypocrites and not to be trusted, and it is my hope that America wakes up to this, like Ireland has.

Matthew Breen tweets at @matbreen

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