Thursday, October 30, 2014

Duggar Do Dumb: Evolution, Abortion And The Holocaust

Before I continue with this post, I apologize to my readers for my unannounced hiatus. We started a new project at work a few weeks back and I've been trying to maintain a balance between that, friends and household, and my online work.

Anyone who watches a lot of reality TV in America or just haphazardly turns the channel to TLC for a few seconds has heard of or seen the show 19 Kids and Counting. I can summarize the show in two ways: (1) a mother and father of Christian background raise 19 children, and look forward to even more, in similar backgrounds, raising them with unconventional parenting methods that are intended to keep them pure and faithful; or, (2) two Young Earth Creationists (YECs), one of them a breeding hub, raise 19 children under strict Christian morals, albeit somewhat hypocritically, and force them to live and act exactly the way they want them to.

Smiles? Yes. Smarts? No.
It should be expected that I'm going to talk about their faith, but let's talk about the children's upbringing first. They're all assigned various duties in the household, usually adhering to stereotypical gender roles. The daughters sleep in the same room, as do the brothers. They're home schooled and are restricted in internet use, only being allowed to view a few select websites that have been approved by the parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and only while being monitored by one of their siblings. They must dress modestly, be happy, and do as they are told. They're also not allowed to date: they have a system called "courting" where a man asks for the father's permission to "court" his daughter. They aren't allowed to make physical contact except for "side hugs" (one arm, both facing the same direction), and they're also not allowed to be alone (one of the siblings chaperones them). If all goes well, the man asks the father's permission (again, note patriarchy) to propose to his daughter. If he agrees, and then if she agrees, they can get married. After marriage, baby making almost immediately begins.

I could go on about most of this and how their methods are not only ineffective for what they're trying to accomplish, but also harmful to their children's psyche and upbringing (in fact, I may make a post about that in the future, as it pertains to psychology). I could also go on about the number of other families who do this, such as the Bates family from United Bates of America (blech!). But let's get into the good stuff.

So of course, as I mentioned, they're YECs. That means they believe Earth was created 6,000 years ago by the Christian God, and all life came from that time. They believe in the flood, in Jesus, etc. etc. They don't believe in evolution, the Big Bang, etc. etc. If I'm not mistaken, they've actually gone to the Creation Museum and met the lovely Ken Ham, who is the foremost scholar in Biblical Creationism. Stemming from their faith is also their stance on many political/social issues, including gay marriage and abortion.

It's no surprise, then, that a month ago, one of the Duggar daughters stirred up a hive on Instagram when she compared abortion to the Holocaust, and blamed evolutionary theory for the Holocaust.

Wait... Really?

Now, let me be entirely clear before I continue on with this: I don't hold any malice towards the Duggar children. They've been raised in a toxic household that has kept them from thinking for themselves or straying away from their upbringing and towards anywhere near valid reasoning, or at least some scientific insight. Their fate can only be summed up as inevitable ignorance as a result of their sheltered lifestyle; thus, I don't personally find the children at fault for any of what they say, but rather I blame the parents, and possibly their parents' parents. In my opinion, what they've done to these children is sickening, and the fact that the media glorifies this family as though it's something to behold is even worse.

Moving on, it was widely criticized when Jessa Duggar made a post on Instragram after visiting the Holocaust Museum. This is what she said:
"I walked through the Holocaust Museum again today… very sobering. Millions of innocents denied the most basic and fundamental of all rights — their right to life. One human destroying the life of another deemed ‘less than human.’ Racism, stemming from the evolutionary idea that man came from something less than human; that some people groups are ‘more evolved’ and others 'less evolved.'
So they’re murdered. Slaughtered. Kids with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The sickly. The elderly. The sanctity of human life varies not in sickness or health, poverty or wealth, elderly or pre-born, little or lots of melanin [making you darker or lighter skinned], or any other factor. … May we never sit idly by and allow such an atrocity to happen again. Not this generation. We must be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Because EVERY LIFE IS PRECIOUS. #ProLife"
Of course, I have to appreciate her opposition to racism and her support for the sick and the poor, on top of a few other things, but there are too many things inherently wrong with her statements that it casts shadow over the positive. That's the purpose of this post: to review the things she said and explain why they're nonsensical. Let's examine the first paragraph to begin.

Anti-evolution propaganda doesn't understand evolution.
There's nothing wrong with what she said about the Holocaust, it's what she said about evolution. The idea that evolutionary theory is what sparked racism is beyond ridiculous; it's just blatantly untrue to anyone familiar with history. The Holocaust was not the first genocide that was racial (it can be argued that it was never racial, but economic, but I won't get into that now) -- there exist dozens of them prior to World War II. One that Americans should be familiar with, but apparently has not contacted Jessa Duggar, was the colonization of the Americans and the genocide of the Native Americans (which continues to this day, by the way). "1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue;" not exactly Darwin's era.

That's just genocide, though: racism has existed far longer than evolutionary theory has. The most ironic example I could probably think of right now would be the Curse of Ham. Simply put, the Curse of Ham in the Bible has been interpreted since as early as the 9th century as justification for sub-Saharan African inferiority -- that they are the cursed descendants of Ham in the Bible; those with black skin. Of course, this isn't an accurate interpretation of that passage, but it serves the point. I suspect that Jessa's parents, who would never want their children exposed to the horrors that Christianity has exacerbated or influenced, didn't tell them about this.

So it's obvious that racism does not come from evolutionary theory, but then there comes the second implication of Jessa's statement: that evolutionary theory is racist at all. It's actually not. The interpretation that some humans are "less evolved" than others is not a part of original evolutionary theory, but was extrapolated from it to form the social theory of unilineal evolution. Some creatures are not "more" or "less" evolved than others because evolution doesn't work in stages, and does not have an ultimate stance on best, worst, least or most. Organisms evolve to fit their environment so they can survive and reproduce; thus, it is incorrect to say anything is "more evolved" than something else, simply because evolution is not a necessarily quantitative process. The idea that some races are "less evolved" than others, then, is a misrepresentation of evolutionary theory that was used to justify racism and genocide during that era. It also led to some pretty interesting economic theories, but that's beyond the scope of this post.

On a side note, I'd like to comment on her notion that racism was perpetuated by the idea that humans evolved from something "less than human." I don't even see how this favours one race over another; it just says that humans were not human before they became human. Nothing to do with black, white, or teal.

In the second paragraph, Jessa basically draws upon emotional appeal to make the comparison between the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust to abortion, and then hashtags "prolife." This is beyond insulting; it's a shameful, derogatory attack against mothers who have had abortions or may consider getting abortions, and is disgraceful and demeaning to the victims of the Holocaust. Beyond it's emotional implications, the claim is just wrong.

No I'm not Wendy Davis. Nor do I support her.
First of all, etymologically, abortion can't be a genocide like the Holocaust. A genocide is the intended destruction of an entire group by the various means outlined in the 1948 United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Nobody intends to destroy all babies -- that would mean the end of humanity as we know it. Instead, people get abortions for various other reasons. It may be irresponsible to have a child at the time. It may be detrimental to the mother's health. It may have been the result of rape. There are various reasons to get an abortion, and none of them have to do with the exclusive desire to kill a baby for the sole fact that it's a baby.

But I get it: the comparison isn't to say that abortion is a real genocide, just that it's the heartless murder of millions of unborn children. The problem is that this is just an appeal to emotion, and is outside the realm of practical or realistic debate. Whether you see the murder of an unborn fetus as morally wrong or not isn't substantive. Beyond this, I could get into a ceaseless debate about abortion, but let me just keep it frank:

Get out of my vagina.

For the purposes of this post, however, I think we've covered enough ground. Some people may prompt me to blame the child for her beliefs since she could've ingeniously come up with them on her own, and was simply told "abortion is murder" by her parents. Some people might say that, but not many, and it's not surprising why: this isn't the first time a Duggar has compared abortion to genocide, and in fact it was the mother who started this trend.

There's a lot to take from this event. First and foremost is that the Duggars (the parents) are vile idiots who should be condemned, not celebrated, for what they're doing to their children. The second is that everything controversial Jessa said was just factually incorrect. The third is that I may now have two posts coming for you in the future: the psychological consequences of the Duggars' way of raising children, and the argument in favour of abortion (which probably won't be new to most of you, but I promise to keep things interesting).

For now, thank you all very much for reading.

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  1. As uninformative as this is, I just want to say that I love the titles of your posts. "Duggar Do Dumb" - made me laugh per-i-ty heartily.

    I look forward to the posts you mentioned, but I'd rather you talk about the tribes I mentioned to you (Waodani, Eskimos, etc.). Just sayin'.

    1. Hahaha thanks Nick, I try my best. I'll be sure to put the things you mentioned on my list of posts, especially the Waodani. The comments on that video disgusted me.

  2. I was pretty excited when I saw you made a post like this, Lex and I'm eager for your future posts. It's ironic the Duggars have touched upon one of your favorite topics, huh?

    The Duggars seem like decently nice people with all the charity work they do and such, but their child-raising methods are beyond questionable. I really wonder how they'll function in the real world outside their small village.

    "The interpretation that some humans are "less evolved" than others is not a part of original evolutionary theory, but was extrapolated from it to form the social theory of unilineal evolution. Some creatures are not "more" or "less" evolved than others because evolution doesn't work in stages, and does not have an ultimate stance on best, worst, least or most. "

    Seems like once again, like in your other posts, you've had to reiterate the fact that evolution doesn't necessarily change to make an organism "better" or that it is "better" once it has evolved after thousands and millions of years. I like also the noted fact that evolution doesn't work in stages - a very common misunderstanding which even the Duggars have taken despite not believing in evolution. Honestly, I'm curious as to why they even hold their "understanding" of evolution if they don't believe in it, you know? Clearly, their "knowledge" of evolution isn't helping them seem very convincing (hence Jessa Duggar's post and the subsequent reaction).

    On the next issue of "Duggar Do Dumb" (DDD) - see how Michelle Duggar assumes that all transgender citizens (especially males) are child predators and giving them protection under an anti-discrimination law would facilitate their predatory behavior:

    (There are tons of sites if you're interested in case this link doesn't provide enough).

    For such a modest family, they really are interested in what's in everyone else's pants.

    1. It was inevitable, really. What was even more ironic was that the show was on while I typed up the post.

      I'd say they're nice people only in a few areas. Charities are nice, yes, and anti-racism is cool too, but they're sexist, homophobic/transphobic vagina invaders as well. The sad part is that this is totally okay with most people -- they'll do just fine in the real world, assuming they spend time in it.

      The reason many people don't believe in evolution is precisely for the reason that they don't understand it: "cats don't turn into fish" and "why are there still monkeys?" are among my favourites. Their opposition to evolution stems from their misconceptions, which were taught to them specifically for that purpose. Although, I should note that evolution does make things "better" -- for their own environment.

      I'm honestly not surprised she believes transgender people are all predators, and that they're practically lying to themselves. Her ideas of strict gender roles are incompatible with the plasticity that transgender rights implies. Needless to say, I think you're right: she probably has some repressed 'sensitivities,' if you will, for non-conforming gender identities in society... I wonder if she played softball in high school.


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