On Thursday, December 9, disgraced former reality star Josh Duggar was convicted in a court of law.
It will be months before his sentencing. Meanwhile, his family is still processing this news.
Following Josh’s arrest, many of the Duggars said nothing — or worse, made vague statements that were tone deaf and opportunistic.
Joy-Anna and Austin Forsyth have had months to consider how to comment on Josh finally facing justice in court.
Now, their role as public figures and as human beings means that it’s time to say something.
Like many of their relatives, Joy-Anna and Austin did not exactly live tweet Josh’s trials.
Instead, they took days before publishing an official statement on the creep’s conviction.
On their respective Instagram Stories, husband and wife posted the exact same joint statement.
“Over this last year, as you can imagine, there have been a lot of unanswered questions in our minds regarding Josh,” the Forsyths began.
“We were able to sit through the trial,” Joy-Anna and Austin shared, “to hear the evidence for ourselves.”
“We agree with the judicial system’s verdict,” Joy-Anna and Austin Forsyth’s joint statement affirmed.
“And,” they continued, “we are thankful for the men and women who work tirelessly to protect children.”
The Forsyths added: “and help prevent child sexual abuse material.”
“Our hearts break for all CSAM victims,” Joy-Anna and Austin wrote.
CSAM stands for child sexual abuse material, a much more appropriate title for what is too often called “child porn.”
They concluded: “We are praying for Anna and her children.”
That is a very thoughtful and carefully constructed public statement.
Importantly, it affirms that jury’s verdict and thus Josh’s guilt before directing attention to the victims.
We all know that there was at least some denial following his arrest.
First and foremost, the Forsyths redirected attention to children who are abused and exploited.
CSAM isn’t illegal because it’s disgusting; it’s illegal because lives are ruined in its making, and made worse as it is perpetuated.
Secondly, to Josh’s family — who as his dependents have had their lives turned upside down by his crimes.
What is interesting here is that Joy-Anna and Austin employed precise language here.
CSAM is not a universally recognized acronym for this grim topic, though of course most people can work it out.
Calling it “child pornography” diminishes the horror of what it is, as if this were about teens irresponsibly filming themselves instead of the gruesome reality.
For this reason, CSAM survivors and advocates have spent years calling for the topic to be more appropriately reframed.
This has actually been highlighted during Josh’s trial, as more and more coverage has adopted CSAM language.
This means that Joy-Anna and Austin had the compassion and forethought to understand the topic and address it appropriately.
For contrast, look no further than Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald’s sickeningly opportunistic statement after Josh’s arrest.
“We are saddened to hear of the charges against Josh,” the couple wrote at the time.
“As Christians, we stand against any form of pornography or abuse and we desire for the truth to be exposed,” the Seewalds said, “whatever that may be.”
The contrast here is that Jessa and Ben’s statement, made much earlier this year, was centered upon their views.
Condemning “all pornography” is essentially changing the subject, comparing the sexual assault and torture of children to consenting adults paying the rent.
If they don’t like porn, that’s fine. This is not the time or context to talk about that effectively unrelated topic.