Freshman Voice: More 19 Kids and Counting Controversy

If you’re anything like me, you will remember watching a marathon of 19 Kids and Counting on a Saturday morning while helping your mom clean the kitchen, or staying up until the late hour of 9 p.m. to watch a new episode about baby Josie Duggar. At least for me, this show was a crucial part of my childhood. The reality show on TLC follows Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar and their 19 children as they live devout Baptist lives with strong views on purity, modesty, anti-birth control and love for God. Growing up in a Christian family, I was mesmerized by the extremes of the religion and intently watched all of the episodes.

Then the family’s success all came crumbling down when news that oldest brother, Josh Duggar, had molested five of his younger sisters at the age of 15. Not only that, but his name was on the exposed list of Ashley Madison users (a website where people could cheat on their spouses) in 2015 where he admitted to spending hundreds of dollars on subscriptions. Later that year the show was cancelled by TLC. I was genuinely disappointed in Josh and I was upset that the rest of the family had this type of bad publicity now.

This year husband of oldest daughter Jill, Derick Dillard, openly made transphobic comments against Jazz Jennings, a 17 year old transgender teen documenting her journey on the show I Am Jazz also on TLC. Jill and Derick Dillard now star in the spin-off hit Counting On that shows how the older Duggars continue to live their lives in the wake of the Josh Duggar scandal.

Jill and Derick Dillard (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

Knowing their strict religion, I completely understand where Dillard is coming from. I mean the the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible says “Women must not wear men’s clothes, and men must not wear women’s clothes. Everyone who does such things is detestable to the Lord your God.” So from his perspective he is sharing what he thinks is right. Although, this does not mean all Christians will be transphobic. That’s what’s so great about being human. We all have the chance to form our own thoughts and views on topics. So where do we draw the line in sharing those ideas? At the expense of other children? Should there be a stop to the bullying? Dillard refuses to refer to Jazz with female pronouns. Referring to Jennings on Twitter:

The TLC Network has been notorious for hosting shows of all different lifestyles while promoting acceptance, but TLC was not happy about statements such as this and cut all ties with the reality star. Dillard will not be making anymore appearances on Counting On for now and in the future.

TLC states, “We want to reiterate that Derick’s personal statements do not reflect the views of the network.” Angry Twitter users form backlash against Dillard by questioning his faith and judgment towards the teen:

Of course, under no circumstances are these transphobic comments acceptable, but my question is why is Dillard being punished for his religious beliefs? He and his family have made an empire on their religions lifestyles, so it really should be no surprise to TLC that he thought this way. Understandably, continuously bringing up the topic and using his platform to speak negatively about a teen should not be tolerated, which is why I think the network cut ties with him.

Jazz Jennings (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

The modern day Brady Bunch has inadvertently turned into a copycat Kardashian clan. With the flashy headlines, swirling controversy and bad publicity, the show needs to stop counting children and start counting felonies. My views on the Duggar family have significantly changed since I was in elementary school. The men of this family have continuously let down their faithful fans and honestly just need to take themselves out of the spotlight.

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Shannon Murray is a sophomore communications major with a minor in astronomy. Shannon is CisternYard’s opinions editor, and owns two overweight cats who share the same name. When she isn't doing school work, she can be found shopping at goodwill.

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