Thursday, November 20, 2014

You Don't Have To Watch 19 Kids And Counting

I really shouldn't pay attention to trending topics on the internet. I shouldn't.

But it's like road kill on the side of the highway. It's laying there all mangled and grotesque and I tell myself that I shouldn't look. I even try looking at something else... the beautiful fall foliage, a nice sunset, even the discarded plastic bottles that seem to be everywhere. But then at the last minute I look anyway... because I just can't NOT look. I just can't help myself. My eyes were just going to glance, but then they linger, and I see all the disgusting grossness. Then I'm disappointed with myself for looking when I knew I shouldn't have, but it's too late because that image is burned into the backs of my eyelids forever. I'll never be able to unsee what I have seen.

Trending internet topics are like that. I know that I shouldn't, but I can't just NOT look.

Today, it's thousands of signatures on a petition to get TLC to cancel the show 19 Kids and Counting.

"End LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars" a letter posted on Change.org reads. "The Duggars have been using their fame to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people. You need to take a stand on the side of justice and cancel the show."

Hate-filled anti-gay bigots or Christian family?
Maybe they are the same thing.
I don't watch the show, mostly because Michelle Duggar's sickly sweet voice makes my blood curdle, but I have seen a few episodes thanks to my 11 year-old daughter who is currently suffering from a TLC addiction. We are considering an intervention. She also is obsessed with Dr. Phil and The Doctors... so we aren't ruling out the possibility that she is actually a 50 year-old woman trapped in a child's body.

I'm no huge fan of the show or the Duggars or their many children. I think they are more than a little whacky. And I can't get past the submissive wife thing or the weird no-kissing courtship thing. So other than the fact that my sweet daughter won't know what to do with her time between Say Yes To The Dress and Extreme Couponing should the show be cancelled, I have no real interest in whether it goes on or not.

But the Duggar's are conservative Christians who hold traditional family values. They believe in the traditional definition of marriage. And since they haven't taken up the banner of marriage equality, they are therefore "anti-gay". And we all know that accusations of being "anti-gay" fall into the same category as being called "sexist" or "racist". It's the kiss of death for someone's social and professional life (whether it's true or not). So bring on the petition to silence the hate!

Just for clarification, the "fear-mongering" that the Duggars have employed involves:

1) removing pictures of gay married couples kissing from their official Facebook page... which is completely within their rights. Personally, I don't understand why someone would post pictures like that to the Duggar's page. It's not like posting to your own wall so your friends and family can ooh and ahh over what a happy couple you are. If you're posting those pictures to the Duggar's Facebook page, you're only trying to stir up trouble. I'm not sure why the posters would be outraged or shocked or even mildly surprised that their pictures were removed. What were they expecting? Intellectual discourse? I don't think so, Tim.

2) a recorded robocall which featured Michelle Duggar's voice informing Fayetteville, Arkansas citizens about a pending city council vote. The vote concerned an ordinance allowing transgender persons the right to use the bathroom facilities of their identified gender (rather than being limited to the bathroom designated for their biological gender). Remember the good ol' days when genitalia determined which bathroom a person used? Still this is probably a subject that doesn't necessarily require legislation (Most subjects don't require legislation). I find it somewhat slanderous that grumpy petition creators paint the picture (ironically using their own fear-mongering) of the Duggars working to repeal a law so "business owners and land lords can evict and fire people solely over gender identity and sexual orientation". Or maybe it's because the idea is a little creepy, especially as a mother (My mama bear instincts are NOT politically correct and don't give a shit about anyone's personal rights).

3) Josh Duggar has taken a position with the "Family Research Council", a pro-marriage, pro-life organization. So... yeah. On this one I've got nothing...

Maybe the Duggars are a bunch of hate-filled fear-mongering anti-gay bigots. Or maybe they are a bunch of people who value Christian morals and family bonds.

Maybe those are the same thing... you know? Po-Tay-To versus Po-Tah-To.

Here's a newsflash for the tens of thousands of people who have signed the petition in a fit of self-righteous fervor:

You Don't Have To Watch The Show

Seriously. You don't. If you, like me, can't stand Michelle Duggar's voice or if you think Jim Bob Duggar has a hideous haircut or if you are appalled by the lack of trendy fashion in the Duggar girls' wardrobes... or if you think the Duggar's are horribly despicable human beings... You Don't Have To Watch The Show. It's pretty simple really. No petitions necessary. And if enough people don't watch the show, guess what? TLC will cancel it. Because television stations care very little about morals and social ideals. They care about money, and ratings = money.

I know it might offend you that there is a show out there presenting ideas with which you don't agree. You might even think those ideas are destructive and insulting. But here's another newsflash:

Not Everyone Thinks Like You Do.

Seriously. They don't. Maybe they should. Maybe they shouldn't. But it's true. There are plenty of different viewpoints floating around out there. It's a fact of life you might want to try getting used to, because trying to silence every opposing view is going to be exhausting. And silencing them doesn't destroy them anyway. Sometimes it makes them grow stronger. Forcing people to think exactly like you is going to take a lot more than petitions, and it's just not going to work out in your favor. (Try reading 1984.)

So suck it up, Buttercup. Even if the show's existence somehow offends you.  You don't have the right to not be offended. You don't have the right to silence opposing opinions.

But you do have the right to choose to not watch the show. You also have the right to make fun of the Duggars... because you've got to admit, there's an awful lot of good material there.

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