Friday, May 29, 2015

Dear TLC,

I know you're 'The Learning Channel" so I have to ask, 
what exactly are we supposed to be learning?

That if you're white, female, poor and talk funny,
make "an error in judgment"
 and start dating and sleeping again 
with the man convicted
of sexually abusing your daughters,
you'll be fired from your 'reality' show immediately;

("reality" being a misnomer, of course,
 if there ever was one, 
for what your shows depict)

if you're male, white, rich and talk funny about God,
make "an error in judgement"
and sexually assault your sisters and their friends 
while they sleep,
you'll get an entire corporate/religious/political machine 
to not only initially cover up the incidents  -
but defend you
when the allegations finally come out
years later?
I know you've read or heard the details by now ...
the eldest boy
in the Stepford Christian Children of Arkansas cult
has admitted to forcibly fondling 
the breasts and genitals 
of his sisters and other unnamed females.

Let's just be clear before going any further - 
this was NOT the age appropriate curiosity of a 5 yr old
nor consensual 'playing doctor';
this was repeated, unwanted felony molestation.

And what did his parents do when informed about these crimes?
They prayed
- for 2 frikkin years!

They sent him to work in a friends construction business
for a few weeks
before bringing him right back into the home
with his victims;
they talked to a church member;
they had him 'counseled' (one and done)
by a State Trooper
 (who BTW turns out to also be a pedophile -
now convicted of distributing child pornography).

They made a conscious decision to protect the offender
rather than protect his victims.

Even worse -
they managed to convince the victims
they had a role in his behavior;
letting them know that had they dressed more 'modestly' 
and not forced the eldest male child to help in childcare,
changing the diapers of younger siblings, 
he never would have been tempted!

They refused to understand that changing diapers
and sleeping prepubescent females
are NOT turn ons for males
with appropriate boundaries and inclinations.
The layers of denial within this family, 
their willful refusal to deal with 'reality'  -
despite having a 'reality' show -
and the genuinely unloving, unchristian way
of dealing with the victims
is mind-boggling
to me.
Now for the part where I have to make a disclaimer:
I've watched the show.

More than that,
I've taped the show
so I can watch it in the evenings
when there's nothing else on.
(Go ahead, judge me)

I've fed the machine that keeps the cult running.

I know the cast of characters.
I've been fascinated with how these folks can live
such isolated, privileged, bizarre lives
and still get passed off as 'normal' people.

I've been fascinated with how their understanding
and belief in, ostensibly,
the same God I believe in,
can lead them to such different conclusions
about how He wants us to act and live.

Their lives are so different from any within my experience and comprehension,
its been akin to watching aliens.

Now I know there's nothing alien about them;
it's all too familiar.

The funny thing is,
I still want to know more.

I want more details ...
not about the sexual abuse itself;
those acts are as old as mankind
and as common as dust.

I want my suspicions confirmed that the 'whistle blower',
the 61 year old female who alerted producers at Harpo studios
prior to an interview with Oprah
which triggered the initial investigation
was none other than Grandma Duggar herself.
I need to believe that at least someone in that household
was trying to protect the children.
I want a panel of sexual abuse experts and child advocates
to air in the time slot
held by the Duggars -
to actually teach the public
about the underlying etiology of abuse,
the signs and symptoms to look for,
the appropriate responses to make
when people find the strength to make disclosures,
and what the legal obligations are
for reporting and cooperating
with State social services and law enforcement.

Now THAT would be a contribution
'The Learning Channel" could make!

Of course,  I doubt there's much money to be made in a reality show like that -

and, if TLC has taught us anything,
it's  - follow the money!

Just wait for them to return the show -
due to the throngs of powerful evangelicals
clamoring about 'forgiveness', repentance
and having this experience bring the family closer to God.

I'll wager my next paycheck,
their final decision will be less about 'life lessons'
and more about the bottom line for them

But, honestly,
didn't we already know that?

I guess TLC has taught us something after all.

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