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. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

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

    Wow. That explains everything.

    This needs to be fixed.

    • #31
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Misthiocracy: Misthiocracy MarciN: Frankly, I think they are like terrorists. Evil. Immoral. Even if they’re telling the truth?

    Yes. In Morality According to Marci, I am responsible only for my own actions, no one else’s.

    If I am accusing someone of something against which that person cannot defend himself, yes, I am in the wrong.

    • #32
  3. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    MarciN:

    Misthiocracy: Misthiocracy MarciN: Frankly, I think they are like terrorists. Evil. Immoral. Even if they’re telling the truth?

    Yes. In Morality According to Marci, I am responsible only for my own actions, no one else’s.

    If I am accusing someone of something against which that person cannot defend himself, yes, I am in the wrong.

    That implies that being “wrong” is equal to being “evil”, “immoral”, and a “terrorist”.

    I’m not sure I agree with that line of argument.

    • #33
  4. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    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.

    I hear what you’re saying and I agree the fact that the claims can’t be substantiated adds a major ethical wrinkle. That said, silence leads to other people being similarly victimized.

    • #34
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Misthiocracy:

    MarciN:

    Misthiocracy: Misthiocracy MarciN: Frankly, I think they are like terrorists. Evil. Immoral. Even if they’re telling the truth?

    Yes. In Morality According to Marci, I am responsible only for my own actions, no one else’s.

    If I am accusing someone of something against which that person cannot defend himself, yes, I am in the wrong.

    That implies that being “wrong” is equal to being “evil”, “immoral”, and a “terrorist”.

    I’m not sure I agree with that line of argument.

    Okay. This is why we created courtrooms–legislatures debate law in the abstract; courts debate cases. :)

    Okay. Immorality in a courtroom, including the courtroom of public opinion: Yes. These women are behaving immorally.

    • #35
  6. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I hear what you’re saying and I agree the fact that the claims can’t be substantiated adds a major ethical wrinkle. That said, silence leads to other people being similarly victimized.

    With all due respect, it leads to an equal evil: The Salem Witch Trials.

    I don’t see–and I don’t mean to be argumentative–I just don’t see one person being saved from being raped by these women making these accusations.

    Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal has written a lot over the years about these stupid cases.

    One story she wrote a while back detailed the number of Catholic priests whose lives were destroyed by accusers like these women.

    In fact, I’ll bet that’s where the Cosby case starts.

    Justice starts with me: No evidence, no proof, no case.

    Ultimately, justice is up to God. Sometimes we just have to accept that.

    • #36
  7. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    I heard a good line from Kevin D. Williamson on the recent mad dog’s and englishmen podcast.

    Paraphrasing,

    • we on the right believe justice is about the process
    • they on the left believe justice is about the outcome
    • #37
  8. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I’m personally convinced Cosby did these things, I think denying these women are telling the truth is beyond a reasonable doubt. I’m also pretty sure Clarence Thomas was a socially awkward person that told a few tasteless jokes in what he thought was a supportive atmosphere. I’m sure Cosby rationalized taking advantage of what he considered gold diggers as one of the perks of great wealth and prestige. As a society we’ve really moved on from the days when this kind of behavior is considered sleazy but acceptable. Even 15 years ago we were still evolving on these issues. I wonder if Hillary’s campaign might cause a re-evaluation of the Juanita Broderick and Kathleen Willey stories that were too raw for the MSM to really evaluate when they were brought up during Bill’s impeachment.

    • #38
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    I’ve never paid much attention to Mr. Cosby. I’d watch a test pattern for hours if that would excuse me from twenty-odd minutes of situation comedy, and the best thing most any stand-up comedian could do for me would be to sit down. (Take the chair with the nails sticking up, please.)

    So it was with fresh eyes that I watched a brief outtake from a recent interview (Fox.) I saw shame and dissembling in Bill’s face and heard the evasion in his reply.

    Now, I’m well aware how the threads of detail that fray from the dirty towels of our lives tangle and smoosh together as we pat and rub ourselves with them over time (alternately using too much bleach.) Looking from outside, there’s no telling now what really happened back then. All I know is that there were multiple accusations over a period of time, never seriously investigated. To contextualize, remember that media reality is an autonomous construct that evolves to protect and enable the left. Bill Cosby is embroidered into our national narrative. (I’d rather have Comet Guy’s shirt. I wonder if he’s auctioned it yet.)

    So, all things considered, I guess Mr. Cosby is probably a criminal pervert. I don’t know that, and I don’t really care.

    But here’s something I do know, by direct testimony given recently by the person in question: Ta-Nehisi Coates is not trustworthy. Ann Althouse nails it: “… he did what was in his interest then, and he’s doing what’s in his interest now.” A journalist, in other words. What a revelation.

    Now having thought about this silly mess for too long, I find Tom’s sentiment more amusing than Bill Cosby on his best night. Not just one broken heart but two! Oh, the humanity! Tom, if the allegations are materially true then Bill Cosby is a toxic and predatory personality, what we broadly characterize as a sociopath. Their hearts don’t break.

    This article illustrates the lengths people will go to keep alive the once-bright threads of their mass-produced narratives, and that’s a real tragedy. Better just to chop them off and throw the thing in the rag bin. After a good bleaching, of course.

    • #39
  10. EvlMdnghtBmr Inactive
    EvlMdnghtBmr
    @Evlmdghtbmr

    Derek Simmons:

    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?

    Fair enough.  I was afraid I was just being cynical.

    • #40
  11. EvlMdnghtBmr Inactive
    EvlMdnghtBmr
    @Evlmdghtbmr

    Ansonia:I don’t believe Cosby is or was a serial rapist. Seduction is not rape.

    Again with that “if they are true” caveat, none of the accounts we’ve heard sound like seduction, and some of the more extreme ones include some use of force.

    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.

    He is also, legally speaking, a rapist.  You may disagree with the law on that point, but if a woman is drunk/drugged beyond a certain point, she cannot legally consent.

    • #41
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    This sounds like a Herman Cain type of attack to me.

    • #42
  13. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    1) Coates apparently does not know the meaning of the word “trenchant” (which means “vigorous or incisive in expression or style”).  It is not really an adjective that ought to be applied to the word “racism.”

    2) Coates states that one “purpose” of black Republicans is “to assure white Republicans that racism no longer exists.”  What a cynical, misguided statement!  I doubt that one could find a single Republican, black or white, who would agree that that is black Republicans’ purpose or that racism no longer exists.

    3) Coates states the organic black conservatives “believe this country to be racist, perhaps irredeemably so.”  I’m fairly certain that Coates believes this, but I’m not so sure that organic black conservatives – whoever they are – believe it.  Look, this country was racist at one time.  South Africa was racist.  Nazi Germany was racist.  But the U.S.A. in 2014?  Racist?  No.  Here’s what is racist: the human heart, through which the line between good and evil cuts.  There is a certain amount of racism, tribalism, sexism, snobbery, etc., etc. in every heart.  To use this imperfection, which in most Americans’ hearts is quite small, to explain away that which is actually explained by certain structural defects in certain aspects of African-American culture is absurd, and I am quite tired of the practice.  What particularly grates is Coates’s use of the word “irredeemably.”  Has any country in history done more to redeem itself than the U.S.A. has done in the decades since Reconstruction?!

    • #43
  14. Carol Member
    Carol
    @

    Johnny Dubya:1) Coates apparently does not know the meaning of the word “trenchant” (which means “vigorous or incisive in expression or style”). It is not really an adjective that ought to be applied to the word “racism.”

    2) Coates states that one “purpose” of black Republicans is “to assure white Republicans that racism no longer exists.” What a cynical, misguided statement! I doubt that one could find a single Republican, black or white, who would agree that that is black Republicans’ purpose or that racism no longer exists.

    3) Coates states the organic black conservatives “believe this country to be racist, perhaps irredeemably so.” I’m fairly certain that Coates believes this, but I’m not so sure that organic black conservatives – whoever they are – believe it. Look, this country was racist at one time. South Africa was racist. Nazi Germany was racist. But the U.S.A. in 2014? Racist? No. Here’s what is racist: the human heart, through which the line between good and evil cuts. There is a certain amount of racism, tribalism, sexism, snobbery, etc., etc. in every heart. To use this imperfection, which in most Americans’ hearts is quite small, to explain away that which is actually explained by certain structural defects in certain aspects of African-American culture is absurd, and I am quite tired of the practice. What particularly grates is Coates’s use of the word “irredeemably.” Has any country in history done more to redeem itself than the U.S.A. has done in the decades since Reconstruction?!

    Coates wrote the piece in The Atlantic on reparations . He will continue to beat that drum until someone shows him the money. Cynical indeed.

    • #44
  15. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    With regard to Bill Cosby, I fear the worst and hope for the best. I once had the privilege to be in the audience at a live performance, and I found in his humor something noble and sweet. I would not be surprised in the current political atmosphere to learn that this is all trumped up, and I would not be surprised if the accusations were by and large true.

    • #45
  16. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    This is what I think can be proven. He was alone with these women. He did not follow the Graham rule.

    I am also not that quick to discount the testimony of the women. It is not easy for a young woman who wants the glamor of being with a powerful man. The shock of the situation would put them in denial. They might also feel that they could ride the tiger and it was their fault for putting themselves in this situation.

    My thoughts on this is a mix bag. It is deplorable but probably common practice. It saddens me that if not in this case in others something like this is happening now.

    I remember that Cosby set up an endowment at Temple University I think. He did it in his wife’s name. I think he knew that was going to be the best way because he realized he had skeletons in his closet.

    As with others I hate to see the collateral damage. The innocent children and spouses that get tainted by this. My hope is good things will come out of this. It is important that people actively protect their reputations and actively keep themselves out of harms way.

    • #46
  17. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Eugene Kriegsmann: 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.

    The Sharpton/Jackson/Coates “Blacks are innocent victims” crowd would benefit. Cosby is one of the most visible and credible critics of inner city culture. To make him out to be a massive hypocrite as well as a criminal predator would do a great deal of damage to those trying to get the black community to fix its own problems rather than blaming whitey for everything.

    • #47
  18. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    These women are acting all innocent, and I don’t believe this for a New York minute. I lived in the Hollywood allure for a decade and had many opportunities to try and advance a career in show business. I lived in NYC for a year or so, also with opportunities to advance on Broadway. All of us young women knew exactly what was wanted and what was offered. If Cosby offered them drugs and sex, and they accepted, that was their choice. And they certainly wouldn’t be following him around the country if it wasn’t consensual. I don’t believe he raped any of them. None of the men who offered me anything, tried anything when I said no. I also did not drink as I could not metabolize alcohol well. So nobody could drop anything in my drink.

    What I do believe is that he is embarrassed at being accused. Do some research about who he really is, and he isn’t the only well known person to pay off an accuser to save his reputation, because the ensuing stink is just so horrific. A man with a doctorate in childhood education, married with 5 children, 4 of them girls, son was murdered in 1997, and he admitted to an affair once. The rest of them he denied, and the girl he was supposed to have fathered, went to jail for attempted blackmail.

    • #48
  19. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I agree these women were not Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I doubt they would be  complaining if they had the career Joey Heatherton got from Bob Hope, or Jennifer Lopez got from Sean Diddy Colmes. That’s kind of what I was implying when I compared this to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill situation. If they had gotten their part of the quid pro quo they probably wouldn’t be complaining. But I still think he’s guilty of date rape in the narrow sense of the term, and it can’t be tolerated.

    • #49
  20. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    10 cents: He did not follow the Graham rule.

    I assume you are referring to what has come to be called “The Billy Graham rule” after a policy Christian “pastor to presidents” Billy Graham decided to implement for his own interactions with women:

    Nor is there any question as to Graham’s own integrity: he lives comfortably but simply, and he has adhered faithfully to a policy never to “travel, meet, or eat alone with a woman other than my wife.”

    via

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/just-as-i-am-the-autobiography-of-billy-graham/

    and Billy Graham’s autobiography, Just As I Am, p. 128.

    • #50
  21. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    captainpower:

    10 cents: He did not follow the Graham rule.

    I assume you are referring to what has come to be called “The Billy Graham rule” after a policy Billy Graham decided to implement for his own interactions with women:

    via

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/just-as-i-am-the-autobiography-of-billy-graham/

    Thanks for looking this up. This will keep a man or woman from a lot of trouble. The “It was an accident excuse” doesn’t hold water when you drive to the cliff run through the guardrail and then do it again.

    • #51
  22. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    2) Coates states that one “purpose” of black Republicans is “to assure white Republicans that racism no longer exists.”  What a cynical, misguided statement!  I doubt that one could find a single Republican, black or white, who would agree that that is black Republicans’ purpose or that racism no longer exists.

    I didn’t read his piece, and won’t, but what was quoted here was all passive-aggression and straw-men.

    • #52
  23. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    I am exactly on the same page as Kay of MT.

    I would also add that the statute of limitations has passed so he gets a ‘Not Guilty’ from me on that score, no further trial required.

    I am willing to cut the guy some slack

    • #53
  24. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Re : comment 50

    Yes, some variation of the Graham rule prevents both a lot of false accusations and genuine misinterpretation.

    • #54
  25. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    How about this? Ahmad Rashad and Valerie Jarrett, who are dating, by the way, conspire to take down a prominent, ultra-famous black conservative. And, in the process, put the screws to Ahmad Rashad’s ex-wife, Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable on, wait for it, The Cosby Show. With Cosby getting pulled everywhere, Phylicia Rashad is probably taking a big financial hit. It’s a two-fer!

    • #55
  26. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Instugator:I am exactly on the same page as Kay of MT.

    I would also add that the statute of limitations has passed so he gets a ‘Not Guilty’ from me on that score, no further trial required.

    I am willing to cut the guy some slack

    I respect Kay and Instugator but I don’t want to cut this guy some slack. I don’t like when anyone uses their power over a weaker person. There is a great disparity between a 45 year old and some one in their later teens. I worry that the person with authority knows who to mess with and who not to mess with. They go for the vulnerable. It can be so heady to be young and close to that much power. It would be very seductive. Remember before the “crash” a person is safe. It is after the “crash” that wisdom takes place.

    I do agree that these relationships were up to a point consensual. They were clearly alone with him but how much consent do you infer to this. Statutory rape occurs when a person is below a certain age. It is an arbitrary line. Some people mature later than others. Others don’t realize that they are being squeezed like and orange and will be discarded. My belief is that they were blind. I don’t believe love is blind but I know lust is.

    The count is at seven. I wonder how high the number will go. IF the allegations are true why use the pills. Most celebrities have people hopping in bed without them.

    • #56
  27. user_130720 Member
    user_130720
    @

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

    As a society we have opted for our appetites and rejected anything remotely like the “Graham Rule”. Except to cluck at the caught.

    • #57
  28. chorton65@comcast.net Inactive
    chorton65@comcast.net
    @GoldwatersRevenge

    No way of knowing today if the allegations are true or false but the timing is most suspicious. Some claims are decades old. Why now do they suddenly surface in the media? Why is a lifelong Democrat and Obama supporter being pilloried by the press, the same press that refuses to print anything uncomplimentary of Obama himself?

    If a member of the Islamic faith leaves the faith, denies Islam, the faith requires that he be exterminated. If a member of the left questions the faith by making statements contrary to the liberal line then he must not be debated, he must be destroyed. And what better way to destroy a persons reputation than by unprovable claims of sexual assault, none of which will ever see the light of open court.

    The allegations of Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct were proven yet he remains the icon of the Democrat party. Cosby dared to question the faith and he will forever be the victim of liberal retribution. It would be interesting to check the bank accounts of these long suffering victims of Cosby’s alleged attracts. My how a few thousand bucks can arouse one’s conscience.

    • #58
  29. Indaba Member
    Indaba
    @

    Zig Ziglar was a famous salesman and then author, speaker and coach who became very wealthy and famous – catnip to some types of women. He had a rule to never be alone with a woman who was not his wife. Even getting picked up from the airport, he would not go in the limo alone with the female agent, etc.
    It is time for men to ensure their own record of conduct. The male teachers and police in Canada will not be alone with a female of any age. They are trained to ensure this. I trained my sons.
    The power of who gets believed has changed.
    For the record though, I do believe these women, although I think they are gullible and stupid, but women in that time could make money in show business far more than on Wall Street. Times have changed. The men had such power to grant theur dreams and who would think he would do that? He also had the power to stop their careers so of course they shut up. Rape is not visible. There is so much psychology around being a female and getting what you want through a male which was the way for centuries. With the birth control pill, it has changed.

    • #59
  30. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    10 cents: I don’t like when anyone uses their power over a weaker person.

    With all due respect Mr. Dime, you don’t know that he did. You only know what they are claiming, and they have no proof of their claims. The one woman he paid $100,000 to when she claimed he was the father of her child, was proven a liar years later when that child grew up and tried to blackmail him. Guess what? Their DNA didn’t match.

    I was 17 years old when I turned down Howard Hughes. He had a number of men around him trying to convince me I’d have a good time. If I’d gotten all giggly and went with them, would that have been rape? I knew better even at that age. Teen-aged girls are not as innocent as you may think unless they were raised in isolation.

    • #60
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