May You Live In Interesting Times

That was true in 1966 and remains true today. However, the problems we now face are exacerbated because truth is no longer absolute. It has been fragmented and left open to interpretation. Apparently, no one lies today. Instead, we are left to deal with individual truths – yours, mine and theirs. Lies are whitewashed and hypocrisy has been refined to a fine art. The Greeks were the first to define and record hypocrisy and years ago, our immigrant ancestors warned against “speaking out of both sides of the mouth.” Even the uneducated were able to recognize the hypocrisy of individuals who failed to live according to the precepts they wanted to impose on others.

Many believe that the saying “May you live in interesting in interesting times,” is an ancient Chinese curse. While the phrase has a Confucian ring to it, it is actually recent and western. It was first coined by Frederic Coudert, an American politician, who attributed the gist of it to the British statesman Sir Austen Chamberlain. It was popularized by Robert Kennedy who included it an address he made in 1966, and to paraphrase his words, like it or not

we live in interesting times that are full of danger and uncertainty.

So, today Al Gore, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and others among the celebrity elite fly in private jets while lecturing other’s about the need for reduction of our carbon footprints. Among politicians there are those who oppose immigration yet hire illegal immigrants to clean their homes or care for their children. And among those in the clergy there are those who impose moral standards to which they don’t adhere.

Hypocrisy is the ultimate power move. It is a way of demonstrating that one plays by a different set of rules than those ones adhered to by common people. Hypocrisy demonstrates how unaccountable one is to conventional morality. A case in point is the Duggar family scandal.

In 2015, just hours after molestation charges against Josh Duggar were publicly revealed, an Arkansas judge, Stacey Zimmerman, agreed to expunge the police report detailing their investigation into the crime. That is not how documents of this type are usually handled, but the Duggars, of 19 Kids and Counting, apparently had enough “juice” to sway the justice system within their community. That only added to the layers of hypocrisy that surrounded this case. Beginning in 2002 and continuing through 2006, the Duggar’s son was accused of forcible fondling and molestation of five minor girls. While the Duggar’s prefer to call his behavior inappropriate touching, that doesn’t mitigate the fact that what he did was a felony, not a misdemeanor. It was a crime and despite their expressions of concern, it does nothing to address the trauma his victims faced and will carry throughout their lives.

The family chose to handle the matter privately and while they did have a member of the local police department talk to their son, it wasn’t until 2006, when staffers of Oprah Winfrey, doing background research for a show, unearthed the true extent of what had gone on. They immediately notified authorities in Arkansas. An investigation was begun, but no charges were filed because it proceeded so slowly the statue of limitations expired before it was concluded.

Coincidence? A redacted version of the police report re-surfaced proving yet again, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” That was not, however, before presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, perhaps forgetting or choosing not to see what the ruckus was about, blamed liberals for the mess the Duggars found themselves in.

Guilty, Mr. Huckabee. I’m a left leaning liberal who dislikes the Duggars and everything they stand for. I watched one episode of their show and my eyes saw a family in which the older girls ran the house and were responsible for cooking, cleaning and childcare. They were being raised to be wives and baby makers and their minimal educations ensured they would have few other choices. The Duggar girls’ future was ordained by their father who in cult-like fashion picked their husbands. This has led to some of the strangest courting rituals ever caught on camera, and they are all done in the name of the purity that the Duggars flaunted in such a judgmental and self-righteous way. It’s all that stuff about purity that did me in, Mr Huckabee. Funny how that comes back to haunt you.

In the end, the incongruity of what was said and what was done is what is caused this house to implode. Having said all that, sir, it’s important for you to know I – the liberal – did nothing to encourage the behavior of their son, much less hide what he was doing. His Mama and Daddy did that. So did his handlers and the TV channel that could not have possibly missed the rumors that surfaced over the years. The sin was terrible but the cover-up was worse.

For the record, I’d like to add that Josh Duggar is again in court. This time for child pornography. Today, a jury in a Fayetteville, Arkansas court found the former 19 Kids and Counting star guilty on counts of receiving and possessing child pornography. He now faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 per count. There, of course, will be an appeal and while I’d love to believe that justice will in the end prevail, the layers of mendacity and hypocrisy that have protected this white man make me wonder. These are, indeed, interesting times.

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