Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Christian Family. On Megan Kelly Interviewing the Duggars.

I'm tired and my arm aches after physical therapy.  That's the perfect time to give my opinions on the interview Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar gave about the case of their son, Josh Duggar.  This post has the background and other pertinent comments.  You can watch the interview here.

What I want to write about is not the five cases of molestation themselves or the long time the Duggar parents took before getting their son to something they seem to view as therapy.  Neither do I wish to write about what it means that Josh Duggar sexually touched her sisters and a babysitter.

I want to talk about the tone-deafness of some parts of the Megan Kelly interview, because I have read the same tone-deafness about the Duggar experiment in many, many places recently*. 

First, Kelly repeatedly referred to the Duggars' weird cult as "Christianity."  That's almost like calling the tenets of ISIS " mainstream Islam."

Kelly normalized an extreme cult (the Quiverfull) by equating it with vanilla-flavored Christianity. As if people attacked Duggars' beliefs because they are Christians and not because they are Quiverfull-ers, bent on maximizing the production of children in the marriage,  preaching absolute male authority, practicing social isolation of their children and denying them (especially the girls) proper education.

Second, she let the Duggars get away with the bizarre argument that Josh's behavior is common, because it may be common among families the Duggars know, as if touching your sisters sexually was just an ordinary type of growing pain many boys went through:

Other families have said they had sons who did similar things, they argued.
Kelly didn't question this argument.  I believe that the reason why so many of Duggars' friends have similar problems is that they share the same child-rearing ideology, being in the same cult:

Isolate your children completely by home-schooling them and by not allowing them to date as teenagers.  Then have so many children that the home can offer no privacy.

Then wait and see what happens.

Third, Kelly didn't react when one of the Duggars explained that the experience  made them pretty much sex-segregate their children as a solution to the problem.  No horseplay between brothers and sisters allowed!  So these parents moved from isolating their children in general to isolating their daughters from their sons.

Fourth and finally, although Kelly tried to make the point that the Duggar family's suffering should not be just about how Josh and his parents feel but at least equally about how the daughters feel, she allowed both Michelle and Jim Bob go on for quite a while about their own feelings, how all this made them feel as parents, how the family has suffered and how very minimal the girls' experience was, what with Josh only groping them through clothing and besides, the wenches were asleep.

*Kelly did ask many pertinent questions and I applaud her for that.  But in general the media takes for granted the argument that the Duggars are a Family Values type of warm and religious family without asking what those values are.

Why do daughters have less value than sons? Why is complete control of all children so necessary?  Why cannot they leave their parents when they grow up?  Why are they not allowed to go to college, especially the daughters?  And few writers note that Jim Bob Duggar is supposed to be the absolute dictator in the family, to be obeyed without any questioning. 

Neither have I seen anyone point out that Michelle Duggar isn't actually a stay-at-home-mother without any income producing activities.  She is a reality show star, but her own definitions are taken at face value in the various write-ups about the Duggars I've recently read.

The Flight of A European Honey Buzzard. Or What Lust/Love Makes Us Do.

My apologies for linking to a parseltongue website, but the story can be understood without getting the language.   It's about a European honey buzzard grrl who has just finished a migration flight from South Africa to her nesting site in Finland (11207 km, 6964 miles), pushed ever onwards by her aching hormones.*

That's my interpretation, not what the serious nature scientists tell in the linked story and earlier versions of it.  The bird, called Päivi by humans (sort of like being called Dawn in English), missed the mating last year, what with all that loitering en route.  This year she almost made the same mistake, but really picked up time during the last few days, averaging during that time  384 km (239 miles) per day!

The assumption is that her old man will be waiting for her at the nesting site.  European honey buzzards appear to be monogamous in the sense of having the same mating partner but not necessarily wintering together. This might be the perfect marital compromise!

I was hooked by Päivi and the site**, rooting for her to make it, noting how she skirted large areas of water except at the final stretch where she chose to fly across the sea (perhaps to guarantee that hot sex bit).  Such a long flight has many dangers, from hunters to exhaustion etcetera, and I'm sure that not all birds make it.

Why fly almost 14,000-mile round trips every year?  Isn't there anything closer to South Africa if plentiful bugs are the requirement for a good nesting site?  Isn't there anything closer to Finland if a balmy climate is the requirement for a good wintering site?  I'm sure that there's a good explanation for this behavior, and in any case the life of hawks is soaring, right?


One of the articles in the series states that the bird's ova start swelling in March and that the total time for mating ceremonies for European honey buzzards is unusually short for birds, so that the females are in real hurry to get the sex started.

**One is not supposed to anthropomorphize other animals but it's fun to do, sorry.  And neither is one supposed to worry that the tagging of the bird might have been why she made it too late last year and almost too late this year.  But I do.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

'An Armed Society Is A Safe Society" Quoth Texas State Representative Jonathan Stickland

He's a Republican with a wolf smile:

Texas is now allowing students, faculty and staff over 21 years old to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, including in classrooms and professors' offices.  Delicious, because of the arms race aspect of this:  Imagine being a professor at one of those institutions, familiar with student anger after they receive bad grades.  Now you will feel forced to be armed to your teeth, too!

Does an Uzi fit inside a backpack?

Never mind.  I know that "the bad guys with the guns" won't be stopped by laws, but neither will they be stopped by "the good guys with guns."  Note that the police gets a lot of training with guns and they still hit bystanders when things get murky and  confusing.  Having lots of additional guns in the hands of untrained civilians is not going to make the resolution of mass shootings easier.   At least the Texas lawmakers should have thought about that.

Is an armed society actually safer?  Has Rep. Stickland actually researched his argument?  And if so, how does he explain the vastly greater numbers of gun deaths in the US than in the less armed societies?  Are gun deaths of and by toddlers and suicides from gun deaths counted in his mind?  What about accidentally shooting your neighbors?

Part of the problem, in my view, is that the NRA has turned the ownership of a dangerous and tricky tool into something like a human right without creating the commensurate human responsibility:  To be properly trained in the use of guns, to employ the necessary care in their storage, and to be responsible for the outcomes of all misuse.

Imagine a world where anyone, in almost any condition, and without any training should be allowed to drive an automobile anywhere, including off the roads or on either side of streets.  Then imagine that no car insurance would be required.

That's what the Texas concealed carry law sounds like to me.