Today's object lesson in "Everything you really need to know in life you should have learned from Disney Movies" comes to us in the form of the Josh Duggar scandal, which could have and should have been avoided if certain conservative Christian sects had paid closer attention to The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
To the maybe three people in the world who are apparently cut off from the Internet and haven't heard of the Josh Duggar scandal, but are somehow getting my blog posts delivered to them via carrier pigeon: Josh Duggar, the recently-resigned executive director of FRC Action wing of the arch-conservative Family Research Council and first of 19 children born to a rabidly patriarchal Christian family with rigid rules against birth control, dating, and indeed any non-marital sexual expression, was discovered to have spent an accountability-free year molesting children as young as five, four of them being his own sisters.
Now, at least Frollo had the decency to be lusting after someone who was unrelated to him and post-pubescent!
But in Josh Duggar's defense, as far as we know* he hasn't tried to burn anyone at the stake yet...so...um, I guess we can say he's got that going for him! Congratulations, Josh. No, really:
*Although, to be thoroughly consistent, if he had, we'd have to wait for the statute of limitations on stake-burning to run out before we could reasonably expect the Duggar parents to address it.
In fact, the parallels between the Duggar scandal and Frollo's twisted motivations in Hunchback are uncanny: both show that shame and denial of sexual appetite do not ensure chastity, but rather pose a significant danger of corrupting healthy desire into a furtive, consuming, destructive force that drives people to exploit vulnerable people via coercion, intimidation, or force. The perpetrator's own shame as a sexual being leads him (usually but not exclusively him) to prop up a facade of purity and respectability, while seeking sexual gratification from those who (he thinks) cannot threaten his public image or require him to openly acknowledge himself as a sexual being. Indeed, the nonconsensual nature of these acts becomes an additional thrill for the perpetrator, as he externalizes his own sexual guilt into degrading his victim(s).
To fully illustrate the self-serving, sadistic, and hypocritical rationalizations that go into the evolution from obsession with sexual purity to sexual victimization of others, I give you the single greatest Disney Villain song of all time:
At this point you, dear readers, are probably starting to think one of two things:
"Now, now... surely you're not suggesting that anyone in real life would really go full-on Disney Villain, are you?" --the naive, optimistic reader
"Oooh, here comes a game of Match That Quote!" --anyone who has ever read my blog before
Both conspicuously declare their own purity and look down on others' morals despite their own obvious shortcomings:
"Beata Maria, you know I am a righteous man. Of my virtue I am justly proud. Beata Maria, you know I'm so much purer than the common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd." --Frollo
"Our marriage is very different from other people's marriages--our age, or even people that have been married for a long time--because the fact that, we are trying, our goal is to remain pure before marriage." --Josh Duggar
I feel dirty putting Stephen Schwartz's brilliantly crafted lyrics next to that word salad.
(side note on the general creepiness of Josh Duggar: how dare he say "I love her so much that I would not step over that line" after what he did to his own sisters! Is he just admitting that he doesn't love them? How must it feel to them to hear him say that on national television?!)
While both of them use their public piety to shore up their own worldly influence and power:
Misogynistic, purity-obsessed scolds just love to blame women for the abuse they perpetrate against them:
"It's not my fault! I'm not to blame! It is the gypsy girl, the witch who set this flame." --Frollo
"Why did God let it happen? Result of defrauding by: immodest dress, indecent exposure, being out from protection of our parents, being with evil friends?" --manual from ATI, an organization with close ties to the Duggar family, on counseling sexual abuse victims
And of course, we have to turn to religious sanctimony to evade accountability:
"It's not my fault, if in God's plan, he made the Devil so much stronger than a man." --Frollo
"I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption" --Josh Duggar
Another mainstay of the self-righteous religious hypocrite is the tendency to cast the sexual aspect of human nature as Other, and to pick a scapegoat that they can blame for the (purported) moral decay in society. Of course, to the religious hypocrite, the most unforgivable sin of the scapegoat is that they differ openly from the hypocrite's preferred moral strictures, even though the hypocrite is flouting those same strictures much more egregiously and harmfully in secret. For Frollo, the scapegoat is gypsies; for Josh Duggar's activities at FRC Action, it's the LGBT community:
"The gypsies live outside the normal order. Their heathen ways inflame the people's lowest instincts, and they Must. Be. Stopped." --Frollo
"Natural marriage is something that has been clearly defined over the years. What's really at stake here is the American family. Marriage is essential to the American family and every single child deserves a mother and a father." --Josh Duggar
All while blaming the Other as the aggressor against the poor, beleaguered religious hypocrite:
"Protect me, Maria! Don't let this siren cast her spell. Don't let her fire sear my flesh and bone." --Frollo
"Right now in America there is an agenda to silence people of faith, those who hold a dissenting opinion." --Josh Duggar
None of this hypocrisy would be complete without some self-serving "Think of the children!" rhetoric where they claim the scapegoat is endangering children in exactly the same way they actually did themselves:
"When your heartless mother abandoned you as a child, anyone else would have drowned you." --Frollo
"I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space." --Michelle Duggar, in a robocall she recorded in opposition to an anti-discrimination ordinance (after she allowed Josh's predation of his sisters to go on for a year)
Hunchback offers us one more very hopeful and inspiring lesson, that the purveyors of this misogynistic and hypocritical "purity" culture would do well to learn: far from the sex-phobic conservative notion that respect and sexually desire are mutually exclusive, it is those who are open and unabashed about their sexual and romantic feelings who are secure enough to genuinely respect their partners and to stand up for what is genuinely right, not what looks righteous:
So, this guy:
I'll take that over "purity culture" and its child molesters and opportunistic hypocritical evangelizing parents any day.
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