Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Case Against Bill Cosby

After decades of allegations, some publicized, most not, Bill Cosby has been arrested and charged with aggravated indecent assault. The 78-year-old comedian stumbled in to court in Pennsylvania yesterday for his first appearance where he posted a $1 million bail. The arrest, charges, and court appearance were the first for Cosby who's maintained his innocence for decades. For decades the comedian's legal team has been quick to point out that Cosby has never been charged despite the litany of allegations against him. Allegations we (and by we I mean the black community) long ago thought were dead until a contemporary of Cosby said the one word in relation to the now fallen hero no one except a few little women dared utter. Rapist.

In case you were wondering, the above video clip posted on October 29, 2014 is what led to Cosby's arrest and charges and court appearance this week. Comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a rapist and then women, some we knew, many we didn't, came out of the wood work to confirm that yes America's favorite dad, our television father who replaced our absentee father, was at worst a rapist, and at best a molesting perv, allegedly.

Super-models Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson were the first to give two of the most detailed and gripping accounts of their unwanted sexual encounters with Bill Cosby. Cosby's team fired back with the party line "Mr. Cosby has never been criminally charged with anything." Then journalists dug up his settlement with Andrea Constand, the current plaintiff in the criminal case, to remind folks he may not have ever been criminally charged but he did settle a civil case out of court. Those same journalists with the Associated Press kept digging and in July won their motion to have Cosby's deposition from the Constand case unsealed.

The deposition is scathing. Cosby admits to procuring Quaaludes for women to loosen them up in sexual situations. He admits to being a good judge of character in sexual situations. But I'm not sure how much of a woman's character can be judged if she's drugged up and drowsy. What kind of informed consent can she give or not give. What kind of sexy, come hither body language could Cosby read from a potential sexual conquest who was temporarily paralyzed.

Despite Cosby's own words, his own sworn testimony, his attorneys continued to say and defend that his deposition was not an admission of guilt, because he had not committed a crime. By this time some people were over the Cosby story, some people wanted to  know more, and others played flamingo and stuck their heads in the sand not wanting to know anything else.

Former Cosby cast mates gave their statements of support or descent about the man who nearly raised them. One of the statements most present in my mind is from Joseph C. Phillips who played Denise's husband in the final years of the show. He said "Of Course Bill Cosby is Guilty." Whoopi Goldberg famously supported her fellow comedian and then dropped her support, all of it televised on The View. Damon Wayans supported Cosby to which I told you about here. Then there was that New York magazine cover some tried to brush off as a stunt, until that Ebony cover was released that split black America at its seams.

If seeing 35 women seated side by side, with an empty chair for the women who haven't come forward didn't put you all into your feelings about the Cosby case, then I'm sure seeing Vanessa, Theo, Denise, Claire, and Rudy in the cracked glass cover as collateral damage to The Cos gave you all the feels of all the feels. No matter what decade you were born, or how old or young you are, if you were black and had a TV during the late 80s and early 90s you did not miss an episode of The Cosby Show.

The question that boggles us all then becomes, "How can a man responsible for this,

and this,

and the best spin-off ever 

be a rapist? Allegedly.

I don't have an answer to that question. I don't know how you untangle the man from the myth, or detach the legacy from the impending legal proceedings.  But as Cosby's last years on Earth become more about his ill-conceived sexual conquests then about the standards he set for Black America (even if he used those standards to later demoralize and denigrate his own people) we will all have to asks ourselves and draw a line in the sand on where we stand on Bill Cosby. 

The comedian's trial is sure to be televised. With the statute of limitations long ago expired in many of the cases involving the other women, if their testimony is allowed to establish a decades long modus operandi we will all have to decide if we can still look up to and be inspired by the man who proved black nuclear families aren't just fiction, but fact. 

As the case against Bill Cosby continues to unfold I only have one remaining question, "How is Camille?"


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