The Horrible, Horrible Bill Cosby Story

 

imageIf you haven’t seen the headlines already, NBC has officially cancelled its plans for a new sitcom starring Bill Cosby. This comes on the heels of “The Cosby Show” being pulled from re-runs and Netflix’s announcement yesterday that it was “postponing” the release of a new stand-up routine they’d commission from the comic.

Reflecting on his own experience with Cosby, Ta-Nehisi Coates — generally not my cup of tea — explains exactly why all this is so disturbing (wade past the anti-Republican digs; it’s worth it):

I spent parts of 2006 and 2007 following Bill Cosby around the country. He was then in the midst of giving a series of “call-outs” in which he upbraided the decline of morality in the black community. Our current organic black conservative moment largely springs from these efforts. It’s worth distinguishing an “organic black conservative” from a black or white Republican moment. Black Republicans, with some exceptions, don’t simply exist as people who believe in free markets and oppose abortion, but to assure white Republicans that racism no longer exists. Organic black conservatives (like Cosby, for instance) are traditionalists, but they hold no such illusions about America’s past. They believe this country to be racist, perhaps irredeemably so, but assert nonetheless that individual effort can defeat trenchant racism. The organic black conservative vision is riding high at the moment. Thus even the NAACP cannot denounce the outriders of Ferguson without the requisite indictment of “black on black crime.”

The author of this moment is Bill Cosby. In 2004, he gave his “Poundcake Speech,” declaring black youth morally unworthy of their very heritage. Cosby followed the speech with a series of call-outs. I observed several of these call-outs. Again, unlike typical black Republicans, Cosby spoke directly to black people. He did not go on Fox News to complain about the threat of the New Black Panther Party. He did not pen columns insisting the black family was better off under slavery. He was not speaking as a man sent to assure a group that racism did not exist, but as a man who sincerely believed that black people, through the ethic of “twice as good,” could overcome. That is the core of respectability politics. Its appeal is broad in both black and white America, and everywhere Cosby went he was greeted with rapturous applause.

Obviously, I’ve no clue whether the allegations against Cosby are true, either individually or as a whole. If they’re false, then he’s the victim of a wicked conspiracy or delusion that’s robbed him of his reputation and career; as Dennis Prager would say, his name would have been raped. All the commentary on it — this post included — would be contributing to that violation.

Terrible as that is, it’s even more horrifying to imagine what this means if the allegations are true. First, there’s the crime against the women in question, which would be monstrous, full stop. But there’s also the matter of a man whose career has been almost synonymous with decency and the best of bourgeois American values — and who made a second career promoting those values among fellow African Americans — being revealed as a monster of a sort second only to murderers and child-molesters. For the first time, I’m getting a sense of the betrayal many Penn State fans and alumni felt following the revelations that Joe Paterno had contributed to the Sandusky cover-up (not being a college football fan, this was largely lost on me).

Humans are complicated — morally and otherwise — and there’s no shortage of metaphors and aphorisms to described how torn and divided our nature is. I’ve long been partial to Alexander Pope’s take on the matter, but Solzhenitsyn’s is simultaneously more applicable, darker, and — ironically — humane:

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

If the allegations are true, then Cosby must be one of those rare characters able to survive with a heart torn in two, each somehow still beating on its own. If they’re false, then we may be watching his heart being broken before our eyes right now.

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  1. captainpower Member
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    some great comments over at the hotair thread.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2014/11/19/netflix-pulls-cosby-special-as-allegations-mount-against-comedian/

    to summarize the comments:

    • there is no way to defend yourself in the court of public opinion. the proper place for justice to be tried is in a court of law.
    • they didn’t call the police
    • they continued relationships with him afterward
    • they put themselves in compromising situations making it hard to know whether there was expectation/allowance for such things
    • in at least one of the accounts, a pill was given overtly to a girl who took it knowingly
    • cosby is getting flak for this now from comedian hannibal burress because he doesn’t like cosby’s moralizing (how DARE he) to the black community
    • cosby is a Democrat and Obama supporter
    • the sheer number of accusations does not paint a pretty picture
    • Bill Clinton (man accused by multiple women of rape and abuse of government power to make it happen and cover it up) could not be reached for comment
    • Roman Polanski (man convicted? of drugging/rape of a minor) could not be reached for comment

    The comments are actually better than that and I’m sure I’ve left some details out, but I figured I could at least summarize and others decide to read in detail.

    • #1
  2. Ross C Member
    Ross C
    @RossC

    Great comment captain.

    This is a pretty sad story for all involved, even Mr. Cosby because we don’t know the whole truth and no matter what the truth is, Mr. Cosby’s character has been assassinated as it were true.

    Regarding the Coates story, accusing a traditional values person of hypocrisy is just damn funf or the left.  Especially if the the writer subscribes to the view that our societal traditions are simply prejudices that are no better that any other traditions that might have sprung up.  (Sort of like, the only reason that the US is not the sames Mexico or Pakistan is our particularly pernicious exploitation of blah blah blah).

    • #2
  3. user_6236 Member
    user_6236
    @JimChase

    I have no opinion on his guilt or innocence (as nothing would surprise me either way), but does said guilt (if true) invalidate the creative product?  For example, TV Land has now pulled reruns of the 80’s Cosby Show, which in my opinion was some of the best stuff on television (and I submit, still is).

    Actors get into trouble all the time, but their reruns live on in syndication.  So unless this is a royalties game, where cutting off the reruns serves to: 1) meet the demands of popular “outrage”, or 2) to punish Cosby for the allegations, why single out a still popular Cosby product from almost 30 years ago?

    • #3
  4. EvlMdnghtBmr Member
    EvlMdnghtBmr
    @Evlmdghtbmr

    I’m always cautious about this kind of stuff, because the rush to judge has become such a recurring theme in our culture.  Sometimes it makes me look prescient, and sometimes you end up defending Anthony Weiner, which makes you feel dirty on a variety of levels.  I think it’s safe to say that the weight of the evidence leans against Cosby, but it’s still well within the realm of possibility that all of this is false.  I certainly wouldn’t trust him around my teenage daughters (if I had them).

    A couple of questions come to mind though.  Would these accusations be getting so much traction if Cosby had kept his mouth shut on his disapproval of modern black culture?  Or would he be another Roman Polansky/Woody Allen/Bill Clinton?

    Aside from his un-PC criticisms of the black community, is race a factor here?  Racism and bias may not be as prevalent as the left wishes they were, but they exist.  All the celebrity predators I can think of who got off scot-free are white.  Meanwhile, as far as I can tell, his victims seem to all be white.  I may be missing some black celebs who have skated on such accusations, or some minority Cosby victims, but does race matter here?

    What do we do with this knowledge?  If less time had passed, I’d want criminal charges pressed, so that both sides could hash this out in court. But if that’s not an option, what is?  Boycott a TV character based on the real-life behavior of the actor?  If that’s the case, the list of shows I can no longer watch in good conscience is a lengthy one.  Agree he’s not allowed in polite society any longer?  Because I’m pretty sure Bill Cosby will continue to have a heck of a lot more access to important people than I do for the foreseeable future.  Promise not to watch any new endeavors by Dr. Cosby?  Ok, but it doesn’t seem like any major companies will be giving us other options in the near future anyway.

    • #4
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I don’t believe these allegations.

    And what I don’t understand is how these women can come out saying these things without being in fear of a libel suit.

    After the Senate show trials (and I mean exactly “show trials”–they were not trials in any sense of the word with someone evaluating the worthiness of evidence) for Clarence Thomas, during he was found “not guilty,” or something, by virtue of the fact that Anita Hill had an unsubstantiated case, Anita Hill went on to write a book (published by Houghton Mifflin Company) excoriating Thomas. Then she went on a media tour all over the country where she repeated ad nauseum all of her unprovable her allegations. This has been bugging me for years. How can a person do this? Destroy a person’s life based only on hearsay evidence?

    This is exactly what has happened in the Bill Cosby case. Show me the DNA evidence or go home.

    I do not understand the law here. And women are being really stupid. Just wait until the men start suing the women. And they will.

    Then this will change. Unfortunately, not until then.

    In the meantime, my prayers for Bill Cosby and his family.

    • #5
  6. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: If the allegations are true, then Cosby must be one of those rare characters able to survive with a heart torn in two, each somehow still beating on its own. If they’re false, then we may be watching his heart being broken before our eyes right now.

    The really frustrating thing is that it’s impossible (yes, impossible) to determine at this point if the allegations are true or not.

    The allegations involve drugging women with substances which are no longer detectable within days, let alone decades.

    These claims are completely non-falsifiable.

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    By the way, the women making these accusations without any hope of proving them are frankly sick in the head. The media is latching on to this story mostly because Bill Cosby is a celebrity. The only accurate answer to “why are they doing this” is that these women are sick in the head. No one in her clear mind would subject herself to this media scrutiny if she weren’t mentally ill. These women have no proof to offer and no case. They will be, and should be, ridiculed. When you act against your self-interest, you are not rational.

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    MarciN:By the way, the women making these accusations without any hope of proving them are frankly sick in the head. The media is latching on to this story mostly because Bill Cosby is a celebrity. The only accurate answer to “why are they doing this” is that these women are sick in the head. No one in her clear mind would subject herself to this media scrutiny if she weren’t mentally ill. These women have no proof to offer and no case. They will be, and should be, ridiculed. When you act against your self-interest, you are not rational.

    Disagree.

    They know that if enough women make the same accusation that the accusations will be regarded in the court of public opinion as likely true, and that they can do more damage to the target’s life than they could by seeking justice via the legal system.

    It’s a perfectly rational tactic, because precedent shows that it works.

    It would only be an irrational tactic if American defamation laws required proof.

    • #8
  9. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Misthiocracy: The really frustrating thing is that it’s impossible (yes, impossible) to determine at this point if the allegations are true or not.

    Agreed.

    If the allegations are true, their inaction let a serial rapist get away with it for years. If they’re not true, then their false witness is all the more insidious for being unfalsifiable.

    • #9
  10. Matede Inactive
    Matede
    @MateDe

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Misthiocracy: The really frustrating thing is that it’s impossible (yes, impossible) to determine at this point if the allegations are true or not.

    Agreed.

    If the allegations are true, their inaction let a serial rapist get away with it for years. If it’s not true, then the false witness is all the more insidious for being unfalsifiable.

    Rape can be difficult to prove even when it happens recently, let alone 30 or 40 years ago. These days it seems it is a little too easy for a woman to make a false rape or sexual harrassment allegation, because of the difficulty in finding definitive proof.

    • #10
  11. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Misthiocracy:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: If the allegations are true, then Cosby must be one of those rare characters able to survive with a heart torn in two, each somehow still beating on its own. If they’re false, then we may be watching his heart being broken before our eyes right now.

    These claims are completely non-falsifiable.

    Therefore, the “Party of Science™” completely believes them.

    • #11
  12. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    All I know is that you better not touch certain areas of your body while you are on the football field.

    • #12
  13. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Because of our litigious culture, I am generally inclined to doubt allegations of this sort. Public symbols of decency always attract scandal claims.

    There are two challenges in regard to reruns of Cosby’s excellent shows. The first is the probable effects of association on the host network generally. The second is the popularity of the reruns. In either case, it can be a purely financial decision and not a political move. But it would be nice if execs gave Cosby the benefit of the doubt.

    I suspect that interest in reruns would be boosted by loyal fans as much as hindered by doubters.

    • #13
  14. user_130720 Member
    user_130720
    @

    EvlMdnghtBmr: A couple of questions come to mind though.  Would these accusations be getting so much traction if Cosby had kept his mouth shut on his disapproval of modern black culture?  Or would he be another Roman Polansky/Woody Allen/Bill Clinton?

    And the answers don’t come to mind just as easily?

    • #14
  15. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Matede:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Misthiocracy: The really frustrating thing is that it’s impossible (yes, impossible) to determine at this point if the allegations are true or not.

    Agreed.

    If the allegations are true, their inaction let a serial rapist get away with it for years. If it’s not true, then the false witness is all the more insidious for being unfalsifiable.

    Rape can be difficult to prove even when it happens recently, let alone 30 or 40 years ago. These days it seems it is a little too easy for a woman to make a false rape or sexual harrassment allegation, because of the difficulty in finding definitive proof.

    I disagree that this is a recent development.

    It goes back to at least 1964, when  New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, altered the nature of libel law in the United States by elevating the fault element for public officials to actual malice—that is, public figures could win a libel suit only if they could demonstrate the publisher’s “knowledge that the information was false” or that the information was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not”.  (Source.)

    As long as nobody can prove that the women knew the claims were untrue, then it’s not defamation.

    (Up here in the Great White North, the grounds for proving defamation are not nearly this strict.)

    • #15
  16. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    It’s all in the timing.  Cosby was on the cusp of making profitable new show deals which would make him very visible again, and therefore able to make his effective call-outs again to the black community for a return to traditional values.

    I don’t believe the women.  I believe progressives want to punish Cosby and everyone associated with him in these cancelled deals, so that no one in entertainment will ever want to work with him again.

    • #16
  17. Matede Inactive
    Matede
    @MateDe

    Misthiocracy:

    As long as nobody can prove that the women knew the claims were untrue, then it’s not defamation.

    Is this why you never hear of men sueing false accusers? Because the burden proof is so high?

    • #17
  18. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Misthiocracy:

    MarciN:By the way, the women making these accusations without any hope of proving them are frankly sick in the head. The media is latching on to this story mostly because Bill Cosby is a celebrity. The only accurate answer to “why are they doing this” is that these women are sick in the head. No one in her clear mind would subject herself to this media scrutiny if she weren’t mentally ill. These women have no proof to offer and no case. They will be, and should be, ridiculed. When you act against your self-interest, you are not rational.

    Disagree.

    They know that if enough women make the same accusation that the accusations will be regarded in the court of public opinion as likely true, and that they can do more damage to the target’s life than they could by seeking justice via the legal system.

    It’s a perfectly rational tactic, because precedent shows that it works.

    It would only be an irrational tactic if American defamation laws required proof.

    I totally agree. I just meant that no one should listen to them.

    Frankly, I think they are like terrorists. Evil. Immoral.

    • #18
  19. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I was a fan of Cosby’s from the middle 1960s onward, though I never got into his later television shows, I loved his record albums and co-starring on I Spy. I have been impressed with his statements to the Black community as well.

    As far as the charges against him by these women, I am undecided, though I must say that the dictum of cui bono does hold. I see no benefit for the women in this if they are lying. At least a couple of them seem to be in long term stable relationships with families. I am not willing to simply write them off as nutcases as some were with the accusers of Slick Willie. I am also not willing to become a defender of Cosby, having spent a couple of years believing that Lance Armstrong was totally innocent of the charges made against him.

    The Hollywood environment which exploits young women and sometimes children of both sexes is all too well documented. The casting couch is certainly no myth. Powerful men do tend to sexually exploit young women when given the opportunity.  For all of Cosby’s squeaky clean image which was reinforced by the G-rated  quality of his comedy routines and the image projected of him as Dr. Huxtable, he is still a human being and his art is not him. His is certainly capable of projecting an image which is contrary to his real persona. He is an excellent actor.

    I am less skeptical of the charges than are some others who have posted largely because of the previously stated idea of who would benefit from making charges which were untrue. Cosby’s downfall would not benefit either political party, no matter his support for Obama. I don’t believe that even the KKK would find any benefit in demeaning him. The least important part of Bill Cosby for most of us is his race.

    I have to say that I am leaning in the direction of believing his accusers, but I certainly wouldn’t vote him guilty at this point.

    • #19
  20. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    It’s utterly impossible to determine the truth of any individual accusation, but the sheer number of them starts to indicate a pattern which should leave some trail.  Was Crosby really in the habit of placing himself in compromising situations with young girls?  Surely there are people who should know.  Some simple good judgment in that area is not an absolute bulwark against false accusations, but it would do much to make them less believable.

    • #20
  21. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    MarciN: Frankly, I think they are like terrorists. Evil. Immoral.

    Even if they’re telling the truth?

    I cannot judge that they are telling the truth without evidence, but by the same token I cannot judge that they are telling lies without evidence.

    What is not up for debate is whether or not they are defaming Mr. Cosby.

    Literally, look at the word. It means to “de-fame”. They are reducing his fame.

    That’s not to say that defamation can never be justified.

    It’s simply that it’s reasonable to demand that individuals making accusations of criminal activity against other individuals provide evidence to justify the defamation.

    There is no such requirement in US law, as far as I can tell. As such, US law incentivizes unsubstantiated defamation.

    • #21
  22. captainpower Member
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    EvlMdnghtBmr: All the celebrity predators I can think of who got off scot-free are white.

    Counterexamples off the top of my head:

    R. Kelly.

    Michael Jackson.

    • #22
  23. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    The Constand settlement piques my curiosity.

    • #23
  24. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    The key is if they don’t try to get monetary damages. If you have a handful or more of women who are making these allegations and are not trying to in-rich themselves then there rings an element a truth.  The preponderance of the evidence seems to indicate that their stories are true or close to the truth  . It does not take away from Cosby’s acting and comedy routines, it only proves he was a a lot better actor than anyone thought.

    Some of these women have been making the allegations for almost a decade from what I have heard. It is just the news media is now picking up on it.

    • #24
  25. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    I don’t believe Cosby is or was a serial rapist. Seduction is not rape. I do think this : It won’t do him, or anyone else, any good if he continues to speak with the tongue of men and of angels to young people about morality, because even the stupidest among them can see that a man who offers alcohol to a vulnerable young woman fresh out of rehab, and then, when she’s drunk, puts the moves on her, is a heartless bastard.
    Cosby had no respect for the humanity of those women. And it doesn’t restore anyone’s faith in his decency to know that the women were certainly sending him the message that they were interested in being accomadating if they were having drinks alone with him in his apartment or house, or to know that the women didn’t necessarily respect themselves.
    On the other hand, D. C. McAllister, writing over at The Federalist, is right that we avoid looking at the exploitive nature of casual sex. And until we look honestly at the fallout of the sexual revolution, we probably will continue to go between pretending that a man acting like a cad isn’t doing anything despicable and pretending that a man acting like a cad is a rapist. Cosby is kind of a scapegoat.

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    captainpower:

    EvlMdnghtBmr: All the celebrity predators I can think of who got off scot-free are white.

    Counterexamples off the top of my head:

    R. Kelly.

    Michael Jackson.

    Define “scot free”.

    Michael Jackson’s annual earnings fell dramatically after allegations against him became widely acknowledged and largely accepted.

    As for R. Kelly, I haven’t heard that name since the 1990s, but I don’t really follow the modern R&B music scene.

    One could argue that unsubstantiated defamation can hurt a celebrity MORE than a conviction, over the long term.

    As an example, look at Mike Tyson. If he had not “paid his debt to society” then it’s possible that producers never would have agreed to have a suspected predator appear in their blockbuster movies. His reputation, and earning potential, was arguably improved by his conviction.

    This phenomenon might arguably create another incentive to take the accusations to the court of public opinion rather than the formal justice system. A convicted felon can have a “come-back” much more easily than a celebrity living under a cloud of suspicion in perpetuity.

    • #26
  27. captainpower Member
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    Ansonia: On the other hand, D. C. McAllister, writing over at The Federalist, is right that we avoid looking at the exploitive nature of casual sex.

    some googling turned up these links. adding them here for context

    http://thefederalist.com/2014/08/08/stop-pretending-sex-never-hurts/

    http://thefederalist.com/2014/11/19/we-can-either-have-sex-like-animals-or-like-humans/

    • #27
  28. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    MarciN: The only accurate answer to “why are they doing this” is that these women are sick in the head. No one in her clear mind would subject herself to this media scrutiny if she weren’t mentally ill.

    In fairness, if the allegations are true, then they are absolutely morally bound to come forward on it. It’d be fair — more than fair, I think — to ask why they waited so long, but they’d be right for doing it.

    • #28
  29. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    MarciN: The only accurate answer to “why are they doing this” is that these women are sick in the head. No one in her clear mind would subject herself to this media scrutiny if she weren’t mentally ill.

    In fairness, if the allegations are true, then they are absolutely morally bound to come forward on it. It’d be fair — more than fair, I think — to ask why they waited so long, but they’d be right for doing it.

    So, unsubstantiated defamation is not only ethically justified but ethically required, as long as the accuser believes/knows that their claims are true?

    I’m not sure I buy that line of argument, but it certainly is similar to the position upheld by the US Supreme Court since 1964.

    • #29
  30. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    Misthiocracy: A convicted felon can have a “come-back” much more easily than a celebrity living under a cloud of suspicion in perpetuity.

    See Vick, Michael.

    • #30

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