Monday, November 24, 2014

Hey-Hey-Hey! No, No, No!

I can't let the rape allegations against Bill Cosby go uncommented on, since I've always been a fan of his, but despite the fact that some women who have worked with Cosby say that have found him to be gracious and kind man who never tried anything against them, the allegations against him are pretty damning.  It would be easy to to give Cosby the benefit of the doubt if only a couple of women had made unsubstantiated accusations, but fourteen women?  So far, the best evidence against Cosby isn't what has been said but what hasn't been said . . . namely, what Cosby hasn't said.  One interviewer for National Public Radio found out that asking Cosby about these rape allegations on the radio is like asking Teller of Penn and Teller about anything on the radio.  Cosby has deflected the rape charges with a curt dismissal; media outlets, in turn, have dismissed him.  Reruns of his old eighties sitcom have been pulled. Ironically, new projects Cosby was publicizing - which refocused attention on these rape charges - have been torpedoed amid all this negative free-media publicity.  A planned special program has been scuttled, and NBC pulled a planned sitcom Cosby had been reported to be developing at the same time Michael J. Fox's namesake show was canceled.  It looks like NBC gave the wrong TV dad another chance.        
Having said all that, I am not going to speculate as to whether the allegations are true or not.  I will only say that they are troubling, and that Cosby needs to address them as quickly as possible rather than hiding behind an all-purpose "no comment" non-answer.  People who have defended Cosby in this ordeal have been accused of defending his TV characters, mainly Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," though Cosby has injected a lot of himself in his art.  The problem is how much of Cosby's comedy reflects his reality and how much of it doesn't.
As for his complaints about the decline of black America and the failure of blacks to lift themselves out of poverty and crime . . . yeah, I'm not going anywhere near that - except to say that while pundits like Michael Eric Dyson have criticized Cosby for overlooking systematic failures that perpetuate the problems of the black underclass, like an inhumane tax policy and the outsourcing of good-paying jobs to other countries, other pundits such as Cornel West defended him for trying to get blacks to take more pride in themselves and to take as much personal responsibility as they can.  Cosby certainly has a right to say what he wants, but if he has sexually assaulted women, he would clearly be disqualified from speaking out on this or any other morality issue.  Assuming these rape allegations aren't true, people like Dyson could still disagree with Cosby on the issue, which would make for a healthy debate.  But these allegations clearly poison the well.
So far, I've gone through great pains to avoid coming out on one side of this story or the other, because I know how explosive it is.  But I will say that I grew up watching and enjoying "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids," and I've liked a good deal of Cosby's other work, and so I would be bitterly disappointed in Cosby if these allegations are true.  Indeed, the fact that they're even being made and  Cosby's refusal to to acknowledge them have me disappointed in him already.

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