What’s Sex got to do with… 19 Kids and Counting?

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures that all US citizens have freedom of speech and are free to choose and participate in whatever religion they want. However, there is and has always been a lot of controversy over where one person’s rights begin and another person’s end. Fisher argues that, in the United States, the discourse surrounding sexual morality is predominantly based on the more powerful religious cultures (namely Christianity) which act to control the sex lives of the populace and to organize individuals into those who are “pure” and those who are “polluted”. There are those who corrupt, typically men and “impure women”, and those who are corrupted, typically children.

Following this logic, the United States is organized in such a way that sexuality is suppressed, children are taught abstinence only sex education, and women are slut shamed. However, in recent years there has been a major shift in the discourse. With the ever growing marriage equality laws across the country, people are more aware than ever of the inequality and oppression that those who fall outside of the heteronormative Christian group face.

Recently, the Duggar’s, a very conservative Christian family, the stars of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting”, have been at the center of controversy. 100,000 people have signed a petition to remove them from the television claiming that they are “fear mongering” and “spreading ignorance and hatred” about the LGBTQI community. All of this started because the mom, Michelle Duggar, opposed a law for her community which would allow transgender individuals to use restrooms and changing rooms based on their chosen gender, not their assigned one. Duggar remarked that she did not want the system to be abused by child predators who could lie about being transgender.

Do you think Michelle Duggar’s response to her town’s proposed bill warrants such extreme reactions from the public? Are her rights protected less under the First Amendment because she is a conservative Christian? Where is the line between freedom of speech and religion and “fear mongering” and discrimination?

What’s Sex got to do with…19 Kids and Counting?

The Duggar family made their national TV debut in 2008 when 17 Kids and Counting aired on TLC. Fast forward 6 years, two more kids, and and a couple grandchildren later and the show is now 19 Kids and Counting and still airing today. But maybe not for much longer…

An article posted on November 19th from the Huffington Post reports that a new petition from change.org, started by Jim Wissick of San Jose, CA, is calling for the cancellation of the Duggars’ series because of the families’ discriminatory feelings toward the LGBT community.

In his letter to TLC, Wissick explained that “The Duggars have been using their fame to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people.” Fear-inducing practices are a recurring pattern we’ve seen towards the LGBT community. For example in Pascoe’s essay, “‘Guys are just homophobic,’” he writes that analyzing boys’ homophobic practices as a ‘fag discourse’ shows that their behavior reflects not just a fear of same sex desire, but a specific fear of men’s same sex desire.” (NSS 177). The idea of the “predatory fag” and attaching scariness to homosexuals is something that we’ve seen as a popular but ignorant discourse. For whatever reason, scare tactics are a strategic means of discrimination because it is human nature to want to avoid things we perceive as “fearful.”

Likewise, in the documentary (A)sexual, at the pride parade we saw many people react to David and his team with fear. They were hesitant to accepting informational pamphlets about asexuality almost as if it was an illness they could contract. Again, we see ignorance and fear as a common reaction to “non-normative” sexual identities.

Furthermore, the oldest Duggar, Josh, is the executive director of the anti-gay Family Research Council’s legislative group, a Christian lobbying group, which openly opposes gay marriage and goes as far as to link pedophilia with homosexuality. This sort of illogic and unintelligence in regard to minority groups is unfortunately accepted amongst discriminatory folks. Rather than being accepting and tolerant of diversity they dismiss and demean it. For example, we saw this play out in the misconception of homosexuality as a disease or illness in some cultures of the 19th century.

I am afraid, that despite the strides the LGBT community in garnering acceptance by society, there are still many people practicing unjustified and uninformed discrimination. What’s worse is when these people are media figures, such as the Duggar family. The media is a pedagogical force that should only purport messages of equality and acceptance.

What do you think about this petition to cancel the series? Should media figures be held to higher standards when it comes to acts of discrimination? Do you think the principle of “freedom of speech” is ever exploited to justify discrimination?

To read more: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/tv/news/a33470/duggars-19-kids-and-counting-petition-to-cancel/?click=_hpTrnsprtr_1