If Bill Cosby isn’t a rapist, no one is
This week, the View co-host Whoopi Goldberg reminded us that Bill Cosby is “innocent until proven guilty.” Really? That’s what you’re going with? The maxim “innocent until proven guilty” needs to be followed with “in a court of law.” There’s nothing that requires the public to presume anyone’s innocence. The court of public opinion functions by different rules, different standards of evidence and with a heaping dose of common sense. The public has largely rendered a verdict against Cosby: guilty.
Saying Cosby is innocent until proven guilty says nothing about what one thinks of his innocence or guilt. The same statement can be made about Dylann Roof, the white supremacist charged with killing nine blacks in a South Carolina church. Yep, he’s innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. So what?
Here you have allegations from some 45 women of assaults from 1969 to 2008. The stories they tell are similar: being taken to Cosby’s hotel room or house or some place secluded and given a drugged drink and sexually violated. Could all these women be lying and Cosby is telling the truth? It’s possible, but not probable. The cases (except perhaps one) are past the statute of limitations so these women are in no position to prosecute or sue for civil damages. Why would they come forward?
People who say, “Why didn’t the women come forward 20 or 30 years ago?” know nothing about rape victims. Most women do not report rape. Whether its wanting to put the horrible event behind them, fear of retaliation, fear of not being believed, unearned shame or not wanting others to know, there are many reasons victims don’t come forward. To be assaulted by someone worth millions of dollars who could use that money to make one’s life a living hell; who also happens to be one of the biggest TV stars ever with the reputation as “America’s Dad,” would scare most people away from a public accusation.
The public has seen celebrities like O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly and Robert Blake walk away from charges that most people believe they were guilty of. Celebrity invites a whole new galaxy of complications to any case.
For Jewel Allison, an African-American poet and writer who claims she was assaulted by Cosby in the ‘80s, she didn’t tell because she struggled with letting the black community down. And friends told her the community would never support her against an icon like Cosby.
So there are many different reasons victims were hesitant to speak their truth.
Still some Cosby defenders say why would someone rich and famous have to resort to drugging and raping women? Surely he had women who would love to be with him. I’m no shrink but it seems the only conclusion to draw is if someone has willing partners available but still resorts to drugging women, he obviously gets off on unconscious women. That’s his thing.
And the fact that Cosby set himself up as a crusading moralizing national scold makes this whole situation even more difficult to stomach. He actually gave speeches in the black community talking about “protecting our women.”
And he reached a new low in an interview last December when he told a reporter, “…I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind.” Really? The $400 million dollar black man who sat out the civil rights movement is calling the white media biased and calling for some kind of racial hook up? How galling is that?
I believed the women and didn’t need Cosby’s admission in a 2005 deposition that he procured Quaaludes to give to a woman to facilitate sex to convince me.
For people on the fence imagine if instead of Bill Cosby it was Bill Smith living down the street from you. What if more than three dozen women came forward saying Smith drugged and assaulted them and Smith refuses to talk about it? And what if a deposition surfaces where Smith admits he once drugged a woman for sex? What if you knew that Bill Smith had settled a claim alleging the same kind of assault as the other women? What would you think?
People are willing to give Cosby much more leeway simply because they like him. They grew up with his cartoon, albums and television series. But that doesn’t mean they know Cosby.
Now, with Disney World removing Cosby’s statue from the park and people calling for the removal of Cosby’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the revocation of Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, the chickens are coming home to roost. His agency dropped him. His new series was canceled and several networks will not air reruns of the Cosby Show. The public is turning their backs because the allegations turn their stomachs.
Today is Bill Cosby’s 78th birthday. Somewhere he’ll be celebrating. He’ll look back on his life and see that he was a pioneering African-American on television, a groundbreaking comedian, a huge television star in the ’80s, bestselling author, and national scold. But as he sips that champagne and eats that cake he’ll also know that we all know who he is when no one’s looking. He’ll know that the carefully constructed façade has come crumbling down and that his legacy is in tatters. And while he may never be tried or successfully civilly sued, he’ll have to live with going from America’s dad to America’s most famous pervert. What could hurt this funnyman more than the fact that the world no longer finds him funny?