Bill Cosby, Revisited

 

tumblr_lzzdgaX7QX1qlw12eo1_500I suspect that I am not alone in being horrified by the unmasking of Bill Cosby. I admired the man. I enjoyed his television show. I thought it salutary. It held up a functional African-American family for admiration. I liked his humor as well. I once had the privilege – and a privilege it was – of being a guest at a table (paid for by Lehmann Brothers) at a charity event where he performed, and I can tell you that there was a sweetness about his performance that, even today, I remember with great pleasure. Moreover, when he spoke about the misconduct evidenced by all too many young African-Americans, he told the unvarnished truth.

So, when I learned that he has not lived his life in accord with what he preached (directly or indirectly) via that television show, in his performances as a comedian, and in his speeches, I was not just shocked. I was deeply saddened – and, I feared, not without reason — that the good he had done with the show, his performances, and his speeches would come to naught. Which is precisely what the left liberals want.

If you want to see the evidence, read William McGurn’s column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. It is memorable. It says something that I had meant to say myself, and it says it better and with fuller evidence than I could have done:

So Bill Cosby’s a creep, and maybe worse.

Yes, as Whoopi Goldberg says, he hasn’t been arrested, much less convicted, so he’s innocent until proven guilty. He would be entitled to this presumption in a court of law. The rest of us are free to make our own judgments.

Put it this way: What dad would want his daughter anywhere near a man who has admitted to procuring Quaaludes to use on young women he wanted to have sex with?

And yet: There is something rank in last week’s decision by U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno to make public sealed court filings from 2005 that included this admission by Mr. Cosby. What makes it rank is the reason the judge gave for denying the entertainer a right to privacy that others would have been entitled to: He said it was because Mr. Cosby has “donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime.”

This is an extraordinary sentence. Especially because it comes after a paragraph in which the same judge concedes that the Supreme Court decision he invokes has never before been extended to anyone other than public officials. In so doing, the judge put his finger on the real target in the cross hairs here, and it’s not Bill Cosby.

It’s Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable.

In his time, Mr. Cosby’s on-screen alter-ego was America’s most popular dad. Even when Mr. Cosby was not playing Dr. Huxtable—when, for example, he was writing his book about fatherhood or telling young black men to pull their pants up—it was hard not to hear Dr. Huxtable’s voice.

Now, few things are more damaging to a cause than a leader exposed as not practicing what he preaches. The Catholic Church, for example, has paid a high price for the news that over many years in many different countries, priests sexually abused young boys, and that the crimes were covered up by church authorities.

The hypocrisy in the Cosby case is somewhat different. Certainly the life Bill Cosby led was not the one he projected. But the chief hypocrisy is between the disturbing, real-life Mr. Cosby and the upright-but-fictitious Dr. Huxtable.

That’s right. The reason Judge Robreno released court documents under seal was that he did not like what Cosby — disguised as Dr. Huxtable — had to say about African-American conduct, and the silencing of Dr. Huxtable has happened. As Bill McGurn observes, a day after the release of those documents, Black Entertainment Televisions Centric Network, Bounce TV, and TV Land stopped running reruns of The Cosby Show, and in Salon and The New Republic the show as such has come under fire.

You see, Dr. Huxtable and his family were not victims. They were not harassed by the New York City Police Department, and they were not out there attacking “white privilege.” They were working hard, playing by the rules, and making their way. As such — the left liberals are agreed — they were a bad example to their fellow African-Americans. They were not playing the role which the left has assigned black Americans.

McGurn ends his column with two questions:

And while we’re on the subject of hypocrisy, what about the different treatment accorded the many women who accused Bill Clinton and those who now accuse Mr. Cosby?

By all means, let Bill Cosby answer for his acts. But why the determination to take the Huxtables down with him?

You know the answer to both.

There are 34 comments.

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  1. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Cosby should go to jail. He can share his cell with Bill.

    • #1
  2. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    I don’t know how close it comes to answering the question, but I’ll offer it.

    In the years since Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic comments, I find that I can still watch the serious movies, but I just can’t want any of the comedies. Being Jewish, it’s a bit personal. And while I don’t shriek at his presence like a social justice warrior who sees a confederate flag in a history text book, I am irritated enough with him that I get nothing out of seeing movies where he clowns around. I can imagine something similar for people with Cosby.

    And in the case of Michael Jackson, if you recall, after his death, sales of his music skyrocketed, and are still pretty good last I checked. The music was always there. But if you buy his music, he gets royalties and you may have felt that buying his music while he was alive was funding his behavior. Now that he is dead, there isn’t that feeling that one might be an accessory to a crime.

    If the case of Michael Jackson is any guide, maybe the loss of “The Cosby Show” is not permanent.

    • #2
  3. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    If he’d been a comedian that joked about sexual perversity more freely and more often, wouldn’t there be a portion of the populace who would say, “We all knew this, get over it”?

    • #3
  4. liberal jim Inactive
    liberal jim
    @liberaljim

    I thought he was probably not what he was pretending to be, but then again I think most public figures are not what they are pretending to be. His business, like Clinton, Bush, etc. is marketing a persona. When a person choses to engage in this profession, I fail to see how anyone could be surprised when it is revealed they were in reality, not of the highest character. Are you equally surprised to find out WWE figures are not, generally speaking, as demonic as they pretend to be?

    His true weakness like Clinton and Bush is poorly constrained ego. I had no idea that this out of control ego would manifest itself through sexual deviancy, but I am not surprised that the ego was there waiting to be revealed.

    • #4
  5. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    I remember listening to The Chicken Heart on my dad’s big reel to reel. Not on a Philco radio, with a hundred buttons, of which only two worked: off/on/volume and the station select. And of course Fat Albert, and The Cosby Show.

    Cosby has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It is very difficult to come to grips with this. It’s become more and more clear that he probably did, at least once, drug a woman to have sex with her. I, like Whoopi, have said over and over again: there is no evidence, and he has not been convicted. Because I wanted to believe that these things were not true.

    I don’t really know what to say, other than to agree. It is very, very sad. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

    • #5
  6. Scarlet Pimpernel Inactive
    Scarlet Pimpernel
    @ScarletPimpernel

    “Because Mr. Cosby has “donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime.”

    The Left’s war on the very concept of civil society continues . . .

    • #6
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    If you are a symbol of decency, you will be a special target of Satan. Few events are so damaging to faith as witnessing role models fall into depravity.

    The Left is in the grip of evil and seeks to destroy all that is pure; sometimes knowingly, sometimes not. The Right must resist the temptation to schadenfreude — an all too common term in recent years. The devil wants us too.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Cosby was ever pure–except maybe in his cradle?

    How is this turning into the left being bedeviled?

    • #8
  9. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    This is outrageous conduct and I would be less suspicious if names were surfacing other than Bill Cosby. What about countless enablers in Hollywood who “groom” these girls for abuse?

    Why isn’t this a huge scandal involving Hollywood and NBC?

    • #9
  10. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I just hate thinking about this. Makes me sick in a way nothing else does.

    So many hours spent with those albums. Memorizing them. Imitating them. Now all these years later, it’s like I went to the freezer and found that my mother had thrown the snowball away.

    Bill Cosby… you gunky!

    • #10
  11. Locke On Inactive
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    My brothers and I grew up on his comedy records. I can still recite favorite bits. I never watched any of his TV shows, that kind of programming did not appeal, but I noticed and admired his work from afar.

    So sad. How could you, Coz?

    • #11
  12. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Casey:I just hate thinking about this. Makes me sick in a way nothing else does.

    So many hours spent with those albums. Memorizing them. Imitating them. Now all these years later, it’s like I went to the freezer and found that my mother had thrown the snowball away.

    Bill Cosby… you gunky!

    My father knew Cosby a little at Temple University. He used to talk about Cosby all the time.

    For all that my father likes to talk about current events, he never mentions this and turns off the TV when it comes up.

    A lot of us are heartbroken.

    I imagine this also why Whoopi Goldberg has been defending him so staunchly up this point. He opened so many doors for African-Americans, whether on the stand-up stage or in dramatic roles on television.

    Just sad…

    • #12
  13. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Titus Techera: Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Cosby was ever pure–except maybe in his cradle?

    We do know that he was in his crib until he was 7. And that his parents never hired a baby sitter. “What? Leave my child at home with a complete stranger? Why I’d just as soon leave him alone!”

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    When Licoln married his wife her family owned slaves. Some abolitionists attacked him for his less than pure relationship to slavery. In a sense it’s fair, because Lincoln did marry into a family of slave-owners. But hypocrisy is never as bad as openly disdaining that which is good. The Huxtable’s and Cosby’s public persona illuminated great virtues. That Cosby, has utterly and horribly failed the most basic measure of this virtues does not negate the ideals of virtue itself.

    Conservatives of all stripes should stand for what is good and decent (For example: raising the children that you create, and speaking a universal American dialect) while acknowledging that people of all sorts often fall short of the virtues that ought to be honored.

    That being said, Cosby’s case is especially vile. Affairs and sexual eccentricties are one thing and rape is another. We ought to be disgusted by Cosby’s behaviour but still honor the values that let the Huxtable family succeed in America.

    • #14
  15. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Casey:I just hate thinking about this. Makes me sick in a way nothing else does.

    So many hours spent with those albums. Memorizing them. Imitating them. Now all these years later, it’s like I went to the freezer and found that my mother had thrown the snowball away.

    Take heart . . .

    My own personal exemplar of this sort of thing is Rolf Harris. By all account now, a horrible man, and a convicted sex offender (whose personality does not seem to have improved since he was put in jail). But when I was a child in Nigeria, and we put the LP on the blue wind-up gramophone and played “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport,” and “The Wild Colonial Boy,” we were in Heaven. My mother loved it. My dad loved it. I loved it. I still do.

    Jimmy Savile? OMG. Anyone who took one look at him and couldn’t immediately tell something was wrong with him needs their own head examined.

    And Bill Cosby/Cliff Huxtable? Adored by my stepchildren, who chanted “Dad is Great, Give us the Chocolate Cake,” all the way across the country on a trip in 1980 with a Ted Williams camping trailer we bought second hand for $300, towed by Mr She’s Datsun F10 (all we could afford, and not supposed to be able to tow ANYTHING). I didn’t go, I just sent money, $50 at a time, which was all I could afford).

    My mother is dead. My father is dead. One of my stepsons is dead. The other has been diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic, and is pretty much lost to us. My stepdaughter remains both alive and sane, and along with Mr She and myself is the only person who remembers with any clarity the events,whether happy or sad, of her childhood.

    No one besides me remembers the early years of my family life, as my sister wasn’t born until I was seven. She doesn’t remember Nigeria at all, and only has faint recollections of our first few years in the USA.

    I’m really sorry that some of the vessels who brought me my earliest memories, and even significant ones later in life, were flawed. And I’m certain that Rolf Harris and Bill Cosby are not alone in their peccadilloes, and that their greatest misfortune, in many ways, is simply that they were found out.

    Which does not make it better.

    But I’m allowed to be inconsistent and still love the happiness they brought to both my families, and to enjoy the memories. And I will.

    At least until it’s decided that the sins of Roman Polanski and Woody Allen (to name just two), render them ineligible for the fawning, slobbering adulation that’s heaped on them every time there’s a major movie awards event and either one of them has a film that’s eligible for a prize.

    Don’t tell me this witch hunt isn’t political.

    • #15
  16. user_28714 Thatcher
    user_28714
    @BarbaraDuran

    The shock and outrage over this is ingenuous. That he was a skirt-chasing philanderer is obvious, but hardly unusual among men of celebrity and power (and among many men without celebrity or power who may not be as successful in their conquests as Cosby, but not for lack of effort). I am suspicious of women who wait decades to accuse a man of rape, particularly when, as in most or all of these reports, the female went willingly or enthusiastically to his room seeking favors. The “I was drugged without my knowledge” is a convenient dismissal of their own responsibility and participation.

    To try to diminish his accomplishments by dragging him through the slime now — at the end of his life — is ugly beyond description and must be heartbreaking for his children and grandchildren. It’s all anyone will remember of him and it will be discussed long after his death. That’s what is saddest of all.

    • #16
  17. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    I was inclined to be suspicious of the women as well — until the fellow appointed by NBC as Cosby’s minder came forward to explain that the disconsolate women molested by the star had been paid for their silence.

    I understand the skirt-chasing, though I do not condone it. All — or nearly all — men are tempted. If that were all that was involved, it would be regrettable, disappointing, and sad. But drugging women? That is a horror.

    What interests me now is the glee on the part of the liberal-left that the man, who in his public persona, represented decency has gone down in flames. And that a federal judge should unseal documents solely for the purpose of subverting the decency Cosby preached. That is even more disturbing than what Cosby did.

    • #17
  18. user_1065645 Podcaster
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    Paul A. Rahe: What interests me now is the glee on the part of the liberal-left that the man, who in his public persona, represented decency has gone down in flames. And that a federal judge should unseal documents solely for the purpose of subverting the decency Cosby preached. That is even more disturbing than what Cosby did.

    Wonder how this judge would handle Roman Polanksi.

    • #18
  19. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OmegaPaladin

    There is a certain madness that prefers the consistently diabolical psychopath to the fallen exponent of virtue.

    That said, I must ask why Cosby would project such an amazing ideal, if he actually was something so much worse.

    Regardless of what he has done, I can state this with certainty: Bill Cosby has done more to improve race relations than any currently active political figure, especially our president.

    • #19
  20. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    OmegaPaladin:There is a certain madness that prefers the consistently diabolical psychopath to the fallen exponent of virtue.

    That said, I must ask why Cosby would project such an amazing ideal, if he actually was something so much worse.

    Regardless of what he has done, I can state this with certainty: Bill Cosby has done more to improve race relations than any currently active political figure, especially our president.

    I agree. And those who hate Dr. Huxtable would prefer a race war.

    • #20
  21. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    Re 19 or 20

    Does that excuse the years of coverup?

    Was it worth it?

    • #21
  22. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    captainpower:Re 19 or 20

    Does that excuse the years of coverup?

    Was it worth it?

    Not in my opinion. They should have nailed him for rape the first time he resorted to drugs.

    • #22
  23. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    Sadly, the black community loses another exemplar, of which it has so few. Shoot, our entire country has too few exemplars. A sign of our times, I suppose.

    He was right though; black men (and all men, I might add) need to keep their pants up. We aren’t animals.

    • #23
  24. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    captainpower:Re 19 or 20

    Does that excuse the years of coverup?

    Was it worth it?

    No, but a little consistency would be nice. The same people declaring Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson personae non gratae continue to heap praise on Roman Polanski, Bill Clinton, Jane Fonda, etc.

    • #24
  25. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Did Cosby admit to obtaining Quaaludes to sneak into the drinks of unsuspecting young women, or did he just admit to obtaining Quaaludes to give to women. I ask because it was common in the 70’s and 80’s for males to invite females to an evening of getting both high and laid. (I mean….or so I’ve heard.) And Quaaludes were very popular, especially before Cocaine became the rage. I’m sure we’ve all heard of Coke whores.

    • #25
  26. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Re comment 23

    When Cosby said “pull up your pants” or “keep your pants up” I think he meant only that. In 1994, I remember my x husband told our foster son he would have a better chance of getting a job if he didn’t go to interviews with the back of his under ware on display. The pulled down pants style looked stupid and rebellious. It said to interviewers : I don’t want to work here, and I don’t get why I should act like I feel a need to make a secret of that fact. But I want a paycheck. So, I suppose I’ll take the job you should give me.

    • #26
  27. user_928470 Member
    user_928470
    @malwords

    “I thought he was probably not what he was pretending to be, but then again I think most public figures are not what they are pretending to be. His business, like Clinton, Bush, etc. is marketing a persona. “

    Come on, now. This is a little unfair, don’t you think? A little bait and switch? We’re talking about sexual perversity and possible criminal wrong doing with respect to the deed and cover up–not who took us to war or who was a “cowboy” or “failed leader,” as Bush was, you no doubt think.

    Or, are we talking about all behavior and decisions you find distasteful?

    Let’s break this down. In the context and timing of the Cosby revelations, if you were taking a test and the question was, “Which one doesn’t belong? a) Bill Cosby, b) George Bush, c) Bill Clinton–everyone would choose “b.” mal

    • #27
  28. user_28714 Thatcher
    user_28714
    @BarbaraDuran

    Paul A. Rahe: They should have nailed him for rape the first time he resorted to drugs.

    Are we talking quaaludes here? If so, that’s like saying “They should have nailed him for rape the first time he resorted to buying wine for her. “

    Quaaludes were a legal sedative in the 70s, removed from the market only after they were found to be addictive to some routine users. Sure, dosage would matter, but at the recommended level they made you about as warm, fuzzy and friendly as would two or three glasses of Champagne. They lowered inhibitions, no doubt, but so does splitting a six-pack. There was a lot of snickering about quaaludes because of rumors that couples used that drug to enhance erotic interludes, just as alcohol and marijuana are rumored to be used as well. Far cry from “drugging women for sex.”

    Well, we will never know the truth of it so I’ll quit arguing now. I still think it strains credulity to believe that an attractive, masculine, powerful celebrity like Bill Cosby had to resort to drugging women unconscious before they’d yield.

    • #28
  29. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Whether he had to has nothing to do with whether he did. Think about Mr. Clinton…

    • #29
  30. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    If I accepted truth and beauty only from the righteous, I would not own a TV or stereo.

    Though it is not normal for entertainers to be rapists, it is normal for them to espouse hatred and corruption off the stage.

    That is to say, The Cosby Show is still admirable. But I can understand if someone has difficulty enjoying it without remembering the vile misdeeds of its star.

    • #30

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