Recently, TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting matriarch Michelle Duggar has come under fire leading to a growing petition requesting the removal of 19 Kids and Counting from television. The reason for the sudden backlash is the Duggar’s stance against the LGBTQ community, which is a much more active, concentrated Duggar priority that previously believed. Anyone who has watched the TLC show knows that the Duggars are conservative Christians who apply very strict Biblical views to their daily lives. They’ve been known to use code word “Nike!” when a less-than-modestly-dressed female passes the men in the family, alerting the boys to avert their eyes and look at their shoes instead. People who aren’t religious, at all, find the Duggar family entertaining because, well, “Nike” is ridiculous, the girls had 80s hair well into the 2000s and wear old, tattered clothes that are a headdress away from a burka, and, in the nicest way, the rest of society sees the Duggars as zoo animals: very interesting from a cage, but not something you want to see in the wild. For some reason, conservative Christians seem to think that 19 Kids and Counting is helping them spread the “word of God” to new people, but, really, the majority look at the Duggar family as a freak show, and that’s why they’ve been on TV for so long (is this really a surprise? They’re on the same network as Honey Boo Boo, Extreme Cheapskates, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, the list goes on…).
Now, conservative Christians (who still aren’t in on the joke) are upset that society is being “intolerant” of the Duggar family’s discriminatory, hateful views of the LGBTQ community. They’re speaking out against the Duggar “haters” and insisting that the Duggar family continue to hold a seat at the public table. They cry for “tolerance” for their Christian views, but what they don’t realize is that the “tolerance” argument does not apply to the Duggar’s point of view, and here’s why:
1. The Duggar Family, and those like them, want their values to be more important than those with different views.
Unlike the LGBTQ community, who have offended the Duggar family by requesting protection from discrimination when using public toilets, the Duggars and likeminded religious individuals are suggesting that the laws in our country should be in line, only, with the conservative Christian values the Duggars follow. In the United States, we’re supposed to have this thing called freedom of religion, which does not mean “freedom to trample others with your religion” or “freedom to impose your religion legally on others” or any variation of the sort. It means that you are free to practice your religion – just as free as someone who does not want to practice a religion or who practices a different religion.
2. Persecuting the LGBTQ community by denying legal rights is ignorant and intolerant.
The Duggar family and its faithful fans believe that denying political and legal rights to the LGBTQ community is an appropriate stance to have, but, historically, denying political and legal rights to people, no matter their background or beliefs, is a very, very ugly thing. We’ve seen it with civil rights movements in the past, and, interestingly, it never ends with the grumpy, anti-progress agenda winning the argument. Time and time again, history has proven that persecuting a group of people by discriminating against a community is wrong and won’t be tolerated. We have laws about civil rights, hate crimes, and discrimination. Those laws will continue to grow in order to ensure that hateful, ignorant people cannot use the law in order to punish people for the way they were born or the harmless, different choices they make.
3. No matter what happens to the LGBTQ community or 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars are still free to practice their religion.
This seems to be a huge part of the “tolerance” for the Duggars movement that is overlooked. No matter what happens to their television show or how the LGBTQ community is affected by laws, the Duggar family is not at risk of having its religion taken away. Also, the Duggar family will not be losing any legal or political rights at all by being told to leave the network. The Duggar family is not entitled to have a TLC show; they’ve been graced by a loyal following, creating great ratings for the TLC show, and that’s why they’ve been on television for so long. If the ratings are going to suffer, the network will cut the deal. It’s business.
The way to get ahead in life is not to push others down in order to pull yourself up. There’s no need to deny another human being the same legal rights that you enjoy in order to keep yours. There’s room at the table for everyone, but this idea of tolerance seems to be lost on the Duggars and other conservative Christians. Their insistence on taking away or withholding rights from the LGBTQ community, women, and people of other religions is what’s hurting them – it’s not a lack of tolerance from the public for the Duggars, it’s intolerance from the Duggar family that has created this backlash.
So, if the Duggar family can teach us anything, let it be this:
Tolerance has been shown to the Duggar family for their views, and it’s time that the Duggar family, and those like them, demonstrate tolerance for other people’s views, too – especially the LGBTQ community.
When I was in college, I took a writing class and met a classmate who was transgender. He was undergoing a change from biological female to male, and he was “passing” (as in, I thought he was definitely, always a man, not born a woman). There was nothing “evil”, “perverted”, or “demented” about him – he was just a normal college student struggling to find his place in the world. This is something we can all relate to, and although I was born a female and continue to identify as a female, that did not prevent me from relating to my classmate on an honest, real level of friendship. During this writing class, my friend was working on a memoir while writing an active blog about his transgender journey. He wasn’t making such a drastic change to his appearance on a whim; he had struggled with his gender identity his entire life. His own family didn’t understand him at first. It took a long time for them to come around and accept him for who he was, which, really never changed: he was their child, their sibling, their cousin, their love in motion. I’m happy his family finally found a way to once again share the love they’ve always had for him, but many people aren’t so lucky. Their families don’t understand, or even try to understand, their struggles with sexuality and gender. Their families and their peers make their world a cold, unloving place by continuing a cycle of ignorance. Sadly, many members of the LGBTQ community end their own lives. In fact, children and teenagers, in grades 7-12, who identify with the LGBTQ are twice as likely as their peers to commit suicide. Tolerance and love can change this; hate and fear mongering cannot.
We need to stop allowing intolerant people to decide what society tolerates.
PS: If you don’t realize how hateful the Duggar & friends camp is, please feel free to read their petition here. The Duggar family, and the conservative Christian camp, think that they are “defending traditional family values” by fighting the LGBTQ community. This type of rhetoric is hateful, discriminatory, and ignorant.
UPDATE: If you don’t understand just how disgusting the #DefendtheDuggars movement is, here are a few Tweets from Duggar supporters…
Let’s pick on a decent, law-abiding family because they love the sinner, hate the sin. Forget that Islamists murder gays. #DefendtheDuggars
— LetsLootPotteryBarn! (@GOPMommy) November 22, 2014
Yeah, because “murder gays” is totally tolerant and acceptable…NOT.
Yeah, last time I checked, public restrooms and public dressing rooms have private partitions. What’s the big deal? Also, civil rights.
Again, people, civil rights. You can’t “discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender or sex”. No one is attempting to create laws that discriminate the Duggars – they’re creating laws that protect people from discrimination because of their gender identity.