What the heck is going on with all of this Bill Cosby business?
Before we break out into factions, male versus female, he said, she said, I’d like to drop the discussion down a notch. Bill Cosby is one of the two black people who helped me see that all of us are just “accidents of birth”. Now, what I mean by that is that absolutely none of us, from Donald Trump to Charlie Manson, determined our birth situations. Trump was born to a millionaire, Manson an unwed sixteen year old. I’m sure if Manson had his druthers, he would have picked The Donald’s situation.
The point is, we don’t have a choice, it is a cosmic accident. If we’re lucky enough to not be turned psychotic by the time we’re in grade school, there’s a chance that some of the “accident” can be ameliorated. Maybe a teacher or some other person will intervene until cognition takes hold and we figure out we’re going to have to dig out of this hole on our own. Lots of ifs.
Some of us were born to parents that, while not criminal, were still harmful. As I’ve outlined before, I learned racism from my Mom. Mom didn’t want me to be Klan, but she was comfortable with me carrying hate in my heart for people who had no more to do with their skin color than I had to do with my hair color. It’s illogical as all get out, but that’s the way it was, and still is in places. Folks latch onto something we have absolutely no control over, the accident of birth, and then brand us for life. It was tough being a “ginger”, I can’t imagine how tough it would have been to grow up black.
That’s where I was, until about 1965, when a friend invited me over to listen to some albums. He queued up a comedy album called,”Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow, Right!” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything as funny before. We howled, we laughed until we cried, we rolled on the floor. It wasn’t ribald humor, it wasn’t even risque, it was more along the lines of Jean Shepherd’s childhood recollections. Cosby set up these wonderful scenarios about his family life, and made them universal. The universal appeal of the story fired a spark in my dinosaur like brain. If Bill Cosby was the funniest guy I’d ever heard, and Bill Cosby was black, might there be other black people out there worthy of my attention? Turns out there was, but we’ll leave that for another time.
What I took from the experience was there were non-athlete, non-musician black people out there that were worthy of my consideration. I now felt comfortable saying I could live next door to Jim Brown, or Bill Cosby. A big leap in growth for me. While the “times” were changing, it’s important to remember how the “times” were, to have a frame of reference for the troubles Mr. Cosby finds himself in today.
During the ’60’s, ’70’s, and maybe still, it was the male that procured drugs for the evening festivities. The females quid pro quo generally speaking, was sexual favors. Broad generalizations here, but go watch the movie “Woodstock” and tell me what you think was going on. At the same time, and maybe still, there was a “star system” in place. The star system was the backdrop for the famous “casting couch”. Females wanted help with their careers and traded sexual favors for the help. Not right, just how it was, or maybe still is.
It’s in that context that I think we should view the allegations made against Mr. Cosby. I think the assertion that many women came to Cosby’s room to, “discuss their careers” and were “surprised” when Mr. Cosby made advances, is on very shaky ground. To my knowledge, there are no reports where anyone was physically held against their will. No bruises, no black eyes, no ligature marks. No toxicology reports where the “victim” could prove that a substance was in their system. Just vague, “I think I was drugged” comments.
Is it possible by today’s standards, where college students are signing consent waivers before engaging in sex, that Mr. Cosby stepped over the line? Maybe, only the participants know for sure. I just feel we can’t go back and layover today’s morality on the events of forty years ago, particularly when the claims are tied to a financial reward. Maybe if the “victims” sued for justice, and not for money, I’d be a little more sympathetic to their cause. I’ll keep watching to see if that happens. Until then, Fat Albert says, “Hey, Hey, Hey!”