Sometime back, when I was talking to various folk who handled estate sales in Oklahoma, one laughed uproariously once he learned that we lived in Fayetteville.
“Yeah, we’ve been hearing about you on the news,” he said. once he had stopped laughing. “When your opposition is led by wing-nuts like Michelle Duggar, you gets lots of press coverage.”
I guess that not everybody is a fan of the TLC reality star. And this was a guy from Oklahoma, of all places.
Ms. Duggar actually got involved with politics in Northwest Arkansas recently, what with her unfortunate appearance before the Fayetteville City Council and robocall to voters, warning of the dangers that may be lurking in public restrooms, should the human rights ordinance be allowed to stand.
“Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men — yes I said men — to use women's and girls' restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls . . .”
It just sort of goes downhill from there.
There is a petition making the rounds which is demanding that TLC - the cable channel whose initials actually once stood for The Learning Channel - remove the Duggar’s show - 19 Kids and Counting - from their lineup, which would leave TLC with such shows as:
Yes to the Dress
90 Day Fiance
My Five Wives
Cake Boss: Family Feast
The Little Couple
Hoarding: Buried Alive
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding
Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta
Quints By Surprise: The 5 Turn 5
Extreme Christmas Trees
My 600-lb Life
I mean, except for their recent cancellation of Honey Boo Boo, TLC doesn’t really take moral stands. As Charlton Heston cried out in Planet of the Apes, “It’s a madhouse!”
So no, I can’t bring myself to sign this petition, which is ultimately nothing more than yet another “I’m pissed off at somebody” Internet petition. Dog the Bounty Hunter came to the Walton Arts Center, after all, and they are making a musical out of Duck Dynasty, for crying out loud.
This is the point where I write about the First Amendment, The Dixie Chicks, The Golden Compass, The Book Of Daniel TV series, the removal of Phil Donahue from the airwaves, or the cancellation of Lou Grant simply because Ed Asner’s political activism pissed off the Reagan administration.
So . . . I just did.
Freedom of Speech also means that people get to say stupid, venal, pig-ignorant things, just like Michelle Duggar did. And Ms. Duggar did not actually use her TV show to make her arguments, such as they are, and I doubt that her recent foray into political activism will make it either onto her show, or her blog.
Ah, her blog, where she posts on such topics as:
Michelle Duggar's Advice for New Moms
Michelle Duggar on Courtship Chaperones
How Jessa Met Ben - some real Old Testament thinking at play here
But it is one particular blog that some uncomfortable reasoning is revealed:
“So when you are exhausted at the end of the day, maybe from dealing with little ones, and you fall into bed so exhausted at night, don’t forget about him because you and he are the only ones who can have that time together. No one else in the world can meet that need.
“And so be available, and not just available, but be joyfully available for him. Smile and be willing to say, ‘Yes, sweetie I am here for you,’ no matter what, even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels. ‘I’m still here for you and I’m going to meet that need because I know it’s a need for you.’ ” - Michelle Duggar's Marriage Advice for Newlyweds
As much as I hate the show, Wife Swap - just the sexist title alone sets my teeth on edge - I'd love to see the Duggars take part in that social experiment! It would rock their world.
Yes, I really did, didn’t I? I used the expression, “rock their world.” Well, at least I haven’t described anything as “awesome” in some time.
The truth of the matter, though, is that in modern America the First Amendment works great as an ideal, even better when we hear stuff we agree with, moderately well when we are exposed to stuff that mildly annoys us, and seems to break down completely when we are exposed to something which infuriates us, or we find morally repugnant.
Flag burning as political protest.
Late night programming on public access television.
Politically divisive men and women invited to speak at universities.
The bigoted comments expressed by those on the Right, whether they be towards women, gay Americans, minorities, or working class folk, or just intelligent people in general.
Movies or television shows.
In such cases, it is best if the offensive ideas are not exposed to the light of day, debated, and even countered by passionate, eloquent arguments from those who can see through them.
Instead, there are those who think that the intellectual high road is to sign a petition, demanding that others not be exposed to the ideas we we find offensive. We demonstrate against movies which we have not seen, demand that laws be passed to ban forms of protest we find offensive, and call TV stations demanding that they not carry TV shows which offend our religious faith.
We call our city council members, demanding that public access television no longer be made available to the public because of something we saw late, late one night.
In the 21st Century, a case can be made that the First Amendment is is in more danger than ever of being irrelevant to American life - despite the many Tweets and Facebook posts can might see on a daily basis.
In the meantime, the red-faced supporters of the Second Amendment cheerfully stand atop an ever-growing pile of corpses - the bodies of innocent men, women and children who die every year from gun violence - and scream their defiance in the faces of anyone who might dare suggest that just perhaps some rational debate on guns is in order.
Maybe the Second Amendment should become the First Amendment? Cuz frankly, Americans seem to respect and support it more.
A petition demanding that TLC take Michelle Duggar and Company off the airwaves? All this is doing is creating more publicity for them.
Demanding that she be taken off the air just puts everybody who signs the petition in the same category as the folks who demonstrated against The Passion of the Christ, folks who called radio station demanding that the Dixie Chicks not be allowed on the air, burned Harry Potter novels, or put pressure on the movie studio not to produce the sequels to The Golden Compass because it offended their religious faith.
Read the books - you’ll understand why.
Or called KNWA in Northwest Arkansas, insisting the the TV series The Book of Daniel be removed from the channel lineup because it conflicted with how they saw Jesus.
Passion and eloquence will always win the day, especially over folk like Michelle Duggar and those who think like her. Passion and eloquence win converts, but petitions demanding that people be taken off the air?
That just emboldens the ones who don’t agree with you, and doesn’t reach anyone new.
Quote of the Day
The way most people “like animals” is very insulting to them. They look down upon them from the height of “superior intelligence.” When I feel for a moment a “superior being.” I remember the hawk’s optic nerve and compare it with my own. Or I compare my powers of scent with those of the dog, or my nerve telegraphy with that of the cat, or my strength with that of almost any animal. - Algernon S. Logan