Despite widespread condemnation, Jim Bob Duggar is running for Arkansas Senate.
Josh’s latest scandal and Jim Bob’s own complicity in his son’s criminal history ruined his reality TV ambitions.
Clearly, he is hoping that sending the “right” kind of message will cause Arkansas voters to overlook his failings.
Jim Bob is showing his “values” loud and clear … with a photo of his underage son Jackson holding a gun and posing with a dead deer.
“Jackson got a nice buck on Saturday,” the Duggar family Instagram account captioned this grisly photo.
Saturday, the caption noted, was “the opening day of gun season here in Arkansas!”
The Duggars claimed: “We’ve already enjoyed some of the meat from his harvest!”
“Deer jerky is one of our favorites to make,” the Duggar family Instagram wrote.
“Jackson is a good shot,” the caption detailed.
“And,” the caption concluded, “becoming a great cook, too!”
There are many things that 17-year-olds should be doing.
By and large, the Duggar children miss out on normal human milestones by virtue of being raised in a restrictive fundamentalist cult.
Clearly, they also participate in activities that most don’t find appropriate for children … and maybe not for adults, either.
“No congrats from me,” one commenter stated firmly.
Another condemned the photo and what was behind it as “graphic and cruel.”
Some responses, though unhappy, were nuanced.
“I eat meat, so I’m not one to judge what anybody eats,” one commenter began.
That comment continued: “I also don’t think displaying a dead animal like some sort of prize is tasteful at all.”
“But,” the statement concluded, “that’s just my opinion.”
While hunting is condemned by many, there was more to this backlash than the senseless killing of a wild animal.
“Y’all need to take a minute off social media … feel the room!” one social media user recommended.
It is difficult to impossible to look at anything from the Duggar family, especially Jim Bob and Michelle, and not think of Josh’s imminent trial.
Others justified (or tried to) the photo, the Duggars, and even hunting season itself.
It was cited that it’s currently “hunting season” and these deer “won’t have enough food.”
“There will be males fighting and [too] many jumping into roads,” one commenter claimed. “That’s why they have seasons.”
This photo was posted to send a clear message for a specific purpose.
But before we delve into the larger issue of Jim Bob and why this photo was posted, let’s tackle the whole hunting side of things.
Hunting is controversial for a number of reasons, and deservedly so.
Even 100 years ago, hunting would have been a routine way for many to actually put food on the table.
Starting around the middle of the Twentieth Century, however, there was a revolution in food and how people access it.
Suddenly, foods from all around the world were available at low prices for everyday Americans to access conveniently.
The vast majority of meat sold in stores and restaurants comes from farming.
Entire generations of livestock, in some cases entire species, are bred only to perpetuate their own kind and to be used as food.
While there is a lot to say about how livestock are treated and how this arrangement impacts consumers, it is not the same as hunting.
Hunting for food means seeking out wild animals.
Often, this is a matter of sport — seeking trophies like hides, horns, and even entire heads that can be mounted on walls.
But a small number of communities, often people who live in extreme poverty or are otherwise disenfranchised, may still need to supplement their food intake with hunting.
Jim Bob is a millionaire and Arkansas has grocery stores, so the food-on-the-table argument is out.
Similarly, hunted animals are wild — with their own lives outside of captivity — and their deaths from hunting are often more agonizing than how, say, cattle are slaughtered.
But what about the concerns about deer overpopulation?
Well, deer overpopulation is a man-made problem, primarily because wolves have been driven to the brink of extinction.
Hopefully, one day, wolf populations will recover through legal protections and aggressive programs to reintroduce them.
In the meantime, deer jumping into roads is also problem created by humans, as our ever-expanding settlements leave less and less open forest.
But let’s say that hunting deer, injuring them with guns in a way that causes them to suffer in pain for minutes or hours before death, is good, or at least fine.
Is that something that a child, a child whose father is a millionaire more than capable of feeding his brood, should be doing?
What is an appropriate age for someone to kill something for fun?
There is a massive cultural divide over this.
Some of us have never touched a gun in our lives and don’t expect that we ever will.
Other people grew up hunting and consider it a way to pass the time with friends and family akin to a bowling league or going to trivia nights.
And that, folks, is why Jim Bob made sure that the family Instagram account posted this photo.
Here, he’s showing that his child is posing with a deer corpse, one that he hunted and killed himself, and is holding the gun that he used to do it.
To any Arkansas voters for whom that kind of activity and photo feels familiar and “right,” it’s a clear signal that Jim Bob’s family is relatable and “safe.”
In other words, it’s a giant middle finger to people who care about children’s emotional development, animal rights, or gun legislation.
Jim Bob is hoping that our increasingly polarized society will send votes his way from conservative rural citizens of Arkansas.
He might be right. It’s also an attempt to change the narrative away from Josh.
There’s no good way to raise a child in a restrictive fundamentalist cult. It’s a disservice to any child.
But clearly, a lot of things went wrong with Josh — even if he was born genetically hardwired to be a predator, the Duggar family and the cult were an ideal hunting ground.
It may be that Jim Bob is hoping that voters will sympathize with him for having “one pervert kid out of nineteen” and believe that Jim Bob did all of the right things.