It has now been over two weeks since Josh Duggar’s arrest by federal agents.
He was charged with downloading child porn, and his family is struggling to weather the scandal.
They are no longer able to hide his crimes or cover for him as they have in the past.
This arrest is reminding fans that the Duggars — everything about them — was always toxic and deceitful.
For nearly two decades, the Duggars have had a degree of national notoriety.
They were first cast in the spotlight in 2003.
Jim Bob and Michelle were photographed voting — with 14 children with them.
National attention led to Parenting magazine inviting Michelle to write ana rticle.
Discovery Health took an interest, producing and airing multiple hour-long specials on the Duggar family.
The natural conclusion of this was the 2008 premiere of 17 Kids and Counting, near the beginning of the Reality Boom.
Even before one of the most irresponsible reality TV launches of all time, there were obvious red flags.
(As if someone in the 21st Century having 14 — or more — children were not already setting off alarm bells)
The Duggar household was toxic, and the world knew that as far back as 2005.
That year, the Dallas Morning News shared the “Duggar house rules” which were posted in the dining area.
“Always use soft words,” even when you don’t feel well,” might be innocuous enough.
“Have sincere motives with no thought of self-gain,” is … iffy.
“Think pure thoughts,” on the other hand, sounds like a line straight out of a horrifying cult.
That, of course, is appropriate because that is an accurate description of the Duggars and their church.
It is not enough for them to police the thoughts of their family members — they post visual reminders to promote the brainwashing.
From 1999 until 2002, Jim Bob Duggar was a state legislator in Arkansas.
(The next time that someone questions if democracy has any downsides, you can cite that)
Jim Bob also ran for office at the federal level — but, mercifully, those bids ended in defeat.
Josh was homeschooled like his many siblings, a move made to isolate them from the real world.
He had accompanied his father during his years as a politician.
In Little Rock, he even had a nickname given by reporters — “the governor.”
This once-cute nickname accurately foreshadowed Josh’s sinister political ambitions.
He worked for years as a conservative activist, promoting the worst imaginable political causes and making his parents proud.
He rubbed elbows with Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and other notorious slimeballs infesting our political ecosystem.
Josh was not the only member of the Duggar family who actively used their celebrity status to make the world worse.
In 2014, Michelle recorded a robocall to help discourage votes for an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Think that it should be legal to fire someone or deny them housing or service because they’re gay, bi, or trans? Michelle does.
It was a wakeup call for some viewers of the reality series who had convinced themselves that it was “just entertainment.”
No, Michelle is not just a woman with a tired uterus and a terrible hairstyle.
She is a bigot and an accomplice. Some fans were shaken, and there was an unsuccessful petition to cancel the show.
Little reminders that the Duggars want a world in which many of us would not survive were just a taste of what was to come.
In May of 2015, In Touch Weekly revealed to the world that Josh Duggar had molested five underage girls.
Four of the victims were his sisters. He had been a teenager at the time, and his sisters several years younger than he was.
At the time, Josh was already married to Anna, with whom he shared three children. She was pregnant at the time.
Josh had held a position as executive director of Family Research Council Action.
The FRC itself is a notorious hate group that lobbies politicians to attempt to turn America into The Handmaid’s Tale.
Jim Bob, Michelle, Jill, and Jessa had a sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly (then still on Fox News).
It was a twisted interview, including insistence that Josh’s “very wrong” actions did not make him a sexual predator.
Somehow, it took until July before TLC actually canceled 19 Kids And Counting after nine seasons.
More and more harrowing information poured out as ex-cult members and others leaked new information to the world.
Josh had, for example, been forced to shave his head as a teen to atone for his molestation of the young girls.
However, he had been pressured into doing so — with the threat that his victims might be shamed in this way instead.
Josh had also never received actual treatment.
At first, Jim Bob claimed that Josh had been sent to faith-based “counseling” at a rehab that included physical labor.
It later came to light that this was simply a family friend (not a counselor) who was working on a remodeling project at the time.
The revelation that Josh was a child-molester shook the Duggar world.
He has since been featured very little on the family’s social media even though he clearly remained part of their lives.
The reason was simple: deception. The Duggars didn’t want Josh’s crimes to interfere with promoting their toxic lifestyle to the world.
Of course, when it rains, it pours.
Just weeks later, there was the infamous Ashley Madison dating site leak.
Ashley Madison is a site existing explicitly to help married people cheat … and Josh ws revealed as part of the breach.
Josh was once again sent to a “rehab” facility, this time a six month stint in a “long-term treatment center.”
It was another faith-based counseling option with no real-world qualifications that anyone could make out.
it’s also unclear how it could be a rehab facility, really. Cheating is a choice, not an addiction.
The Duggars very openly referred to these revelations about their family as spiritual warfare.
Josh’s crimes, his betrayal of Anna, and the fact that they became public knowledge were characterized as attacks by the devil.
When you think that you’re the most holy, most righteous people in the world, you imagine that sinister forces are desperate to destroy you.
The reality, of course, is that the nature of the cult to which the family belongs made Josh’s crimes easy to commit.
His sisters likely lacked the language to even explain what he had done to them, because their concept of sex and sex crimes would have been nonexistant.
Additionally, they were taught in every way that women are responsible for men’s desires and actions. It’s a perfect storm for predators.
By covering Josh’s crimes, putting their brand and their malevolent agenda above justice, the Duggars further enabled all of this.
Even without Josh’s wrongdoings, of course, Jim Bob and Michelle are abusive and awful in countless ways.
But fans who have willfully ignored that for years have a hard time explaining away how they could lend aid and comfort to a monster like Josh.