24 May 2015

Duggargate -- an observation

One point that struck me about Huckabee's statement on the Duggar molestation scandal was its lack of interest in the girls who were victimized.  Huckabee offers plenty of painfully-nuanced words on Josh Duggar's exact moral status and that of his actions, and even attacks the media for turning this rock over, but has very little to say about the victims.  The same is true of the Duggar family's official statements on the scandal, notably Josh's remark that "I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life" -- ruining his life, not the lives of those he molested.  See also this collection of pro-Duggar comments by fans -- it's all about Josh, how he must have been tempted, the merits of his actions since, whether God has forgiven him, etc.  Not a word about the victims.  It reminds me of the attitudes of Catholic Church officials shielding molesting priests.

I think this reflects an important difference between secular and religious morality. From a secular viewpoint, it's only the existence of a victim that makes something wrong at all -- an action is wrong only if, and only because, it harms someone else. Religious "morality" is based on taboo systems. An action is wrong because it violates a taboo -- whether it harms anyone or not is irrelevant. The important issue is not the effect on the victim (or even whether there is one), but rather the moral trajectory of the perpetrator -- did he repent, does God forgive him, etc.

Hence I generally refer to religious "morality" by the term "taboo system". It's not real morality at all.


Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

It funny how that works. Radical religionists can always find a way to justify their immorality.

Your comparison of the Duggal sex scandal to the RCC's inability to face its moral failures is spot on.

Sexual repression produces sexual predators, it seems.

24 May, 2015 12:38  
Blogger Ahab said...

Absolutely. Fundamentalist morality leaves little room for reflection on the rights and dignity of others, including victims. I think you'll find this commentary piece on moral "boxes" edifying.


24 May, 2015 13:09  
Blogger Rosa Rubicondior said...

It sometimes seems religiosity is a cover; something to hide behind. Who ever would expect a pious, godfearing Christian to be molesting children? And when they're caught, of course there's the get-out-of-jail-free card of confession (and resetting the sin counter). As a last resort, other Christians can always turn on them and declare them not to be true Christians.

24 May, 2015 15:57  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: Justifying their immorality is exactly what it amounts to, when such warped thinking is used as an excuse for letting the perpetrators off the hook.

Ahab: That's an insightful posting -- thanks.

Rosa: Exactly. As I think you once observed, religion doesn't lead to more moral behavior, it leads to more rationalizations for immoral behavior.

25 May, 2015 03:05  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

It sometimes seems religiosity is a cover; something to hide behind. Who ever would expect a pious, godfearing Christian to be molesting children?

Interestingly enough, piety was that "virtue" which Niccolo Machiavelli claimed (in his book, The Prince) was the most important one for a ruler to be able to fake!

Re the OP, one of the main things that ended up putting me off the whole religious idea of "sin" was the fact that, in many believers' eyes, even when a "sin" did have a victim, the real outrage wasn't the fact that it had hurt someone else, but rather that it had offended God. To me, that sort of thinking seemed analogous to a man being outraged by the rape of his wife or girlfriend, not because he actually cared about her, but because some other man had dared violate his "property"!

25 May, 2015 07:43  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Zosimus: Exactly so. I'm seeing a lot of talk about Josh being forgiven by God. No one seems to think of whether he's been forgiven by the victims, who are the only ones with any right to say whether his actions are forgivable or not.

25 May, 2015 08:39  
Blogger mendip said...

Thank you, Infidel. This is one of the best and most succinct descriptions of the differences between the god floggers and secularists that I've ever read!

26 May, 2015 05:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks! They're getting more and more obvious.....

28 May, 2015 05:39  

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