In my time I have seen many celebrities and politicians fall from grace, whether it be due to drugs, criminal acts, violence, abuse (sexual and non-sexual). And while there were some who I found to be talented and that I respected because of their talent, there were none that I would say had any personal meaning to me. Many of them did to other people, and I would call those people foolish for defending to the end someone who is clearly guilty, someone who is clearly criminal. And for those who even accepted it, I never really thought about how hard it was for them.
I know I am not alone in my love for Bill Cosby. Many people my age and older grew up with him. My first exposure to Bill Cosby
was through his comedy recordings (for me on cassette and record). A friend exposed me to them early in high school and me and my friends would sit around laughing at his tales. He had such a talent for telling a story. A perfect mixture of embellishment and truth. Watching a couple of his videos, the part that you don’t get is of course his ability with facial expressions which make one laugh even harder. For me Bill Cosby was inspirational in his comedic ability and though I am no comedian, I would say he definitely influenced my humor and the way I make others laugh. And then of course there was the Cosby Show. One of the few shows that we would all get together as a family and watch. It was an extremely enjoyable show, and of course the social and cultural statements made by the show had, I think, profound impacts on the country as the show literally united white and black people around this black family each week. From then of course I saw him continue to promote the importance of education and a good work ethic. He continued to be an inspiration to many I am sure in the black community and a role model to many African-Americans.
So it was with a great deal of surprise, when it came out recently, that over a dozen women had come forward with charges against Bill Cosby of sexual assault. It appears that Bill Cosby did in fact drug and sexually assault these women. Such acts are despicable and make me sick to my stomach when I think of them and how they were described by the women. He was deceitful, calculating, invasive, and immoral. This was a hard pill to swallow (unlike the pills he apparently gave his victims). For the first time I was facing what many others have faced before; a childhood hero, guilty of horrible crimes. I wanted to fight it, and I tried to read lots about it before I could accept it in my mind. The more I read, the more shocked I became, and at some point I had to stop, because it was too hard to bear. More surprising than anything is that most of this surfaced 8 years ago, and I was only hearing about it now. It seems like even the media, which loves to watch angels fall, didn’t even want to see Bill Cosby sink to the depths.
In some ways it has helped reinforced why people have trouble changing their beliefs, whether it be about religion, politics, or whatever, because when facts overturn your beliefs in an instant it is a very tumultuous feeling. It is one you want to quickly get rid of, and often the easiest way to do that is to simply refuse to believe that new evidence. It leaves you feeling divided. Bill Cosby was cherished in my heart and now I feel like it has been ripped out of me and I wonder if I could be wrong about Bill Cosby, what other things that I cherish could I be wrong about? It is not a comfortable feeling.
It also reminds me that when it comes to heroes, when we idolize celebrities we are always running a risk, because what we see may be a very small portion of who they are. Maybe the true heroes in our lives should be those closest to us; the ones we spend time with on a regular basis, the ones we can talk with and listen to, and are reliable. It also reminds me that there is perhaps no perfection, and when we idolize someone to the point of perfection, this is also dangerous.
Maybe Bill Cosby was always like this, or perhaps his fame and fortune corrupted him to such actions; I guess we’ll never know. In some ways I’d have more respect for him if he at least admitted to his crimes and accepted the punishment. I don’t see that happening. He has been too big for too long, and he is much more likely to just hide and hope for all this deserved negativity to go away, in hopes that at least a majority of his fans might remember him in a positive light.
As my way of making peace, I want to say thank you Bill Cosby for all that you gave me personally throughout my younger years. I will not feel ashamed for all the laughter you brought me. For building you up as more than what you are, I take responsibility, but I do hope that somewhere in your heart you feel ashamed for what you have done. Principally of course to those women you violated, but also to a country you asked to take you into your home and to a culture you helped shape and asked that they look at you as an example of what a good black man could be.
23 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Bill Cosby”
I feel the same as you.
At this time there are about twenty women who have said Bill Cosby drugged, abused and or raped them over the past forty years. One victim was a child of 15. Their allegations are striking similar. They say for every woman who speaks up about being abused or raped, there are ten more who will not come forward. Do the math! Now Cosby steps out of the shadows and counter sues the child victim. There is no damage control option for Cosby. Cosby’s only option now is to sue his own lawyer for failing in his fiduciary responsibilities to protect Cosby from himself. Unless Cosby steps up and confesses, he would otherwise do best to just “go quietly into that good night”.
Even if the statute of limitations protects Cosby from criminal prosecution, he is guilty. He is a habitual rapist. He displays an arrogance of entitlement without accountability and or remorse. He did it. You can see it in his face. Pity his wife for standing by him, she is also a victim. Even if Cosby escapes justice in this life, he will not escape it in the next life.
The number of victims is staggering. All who continue to support Cosby are also condoning what he has done. You’re not helping Cosby and you are definitely disrespecting the victims. All of these victims represent our daughters, wives, mothers and sisters. We must not defend the indefensible.
STOP ATTENDING HIS SHOWS. Cosby is now an old man and he will soon no longer be with us. Cosby is also a very vane individual who may not be strong enough to endure the backlash and is very likely to take his own life.
Can you please tell me how I’m supporting Cosby, because i feel like you didn’t read what i wrote. Thank you.
Swarn, this is a tough one. But I have seen this activity all my life and most likely why I did become a therapist in the trauma genre; however no longer therapitizing!
I have seen the duality of strong important people in my life. On both sides of the victim fence!! As a toddler I was molested by a neighbor, as a teen raped and then raped again by a therapist in internship when I was in a very tenuous vulnerable state. Please, I am way over it and truthful I never let any of these incidents bother me. I am extremely strong willed and in thought as well.
Nonetheless, not being able to report something egregious against a larger than life figure causes great harm to many who fall prey to such larger than life persona.
The recovery process and the need to NOT stand in the victim mode is essential. Also, to let it go. Some people live a duality to such an egregious degree that when highlighted is shocking to the public. Words such as yours and others “s/he were such incredible – exemplary people. They had such an impact upon our world”
The fact is, we all have a dark side – which in time I do hope we deal with. Whether that is drugs, alcohol, abusiveness, unkind, terse, we have it. I have a red headed temper – but it is poised, thanks to my powerful father.
In the end, it is those whom are left and whether they can resolve what happened to them by someone they trusted and looked up to! Not allow themselves to fall further prey of being a victim, but move on…. These are strong words, but unless a person does move on the problems will only exacerbate in their lives as to being victimized by life in itself.
As to Mr. Cosby… well it does not surprise me. For the family I grew up in was powerful and I met many powerful – BAD people! with a charming public face and the work they did for the public was exemplary.
To those who suffered, fell prey to Mr. Cosby – as a young girl, young lady and wiser educated lady, I say……… move on! Move on with your life and make something of it. Use the knowledge you have now of yourself to augment your life.
This is what I have done – and advised others in therapeutic sessions how to recover from trauma.
Thank you for this blog, excellent show of how the duality of respect – and horror may be attributed to a public respected figure.
Thank you MicheleElys as always for your thoughtful and insightful comments. 🙂 I think you have said it very well that we all have a dark side and for some that darker side may stay in the corner of our mind, but for some it clearly gets fed, blossoms and grows. I do in some way think that there is something to the expression “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. It seems that as we gain power in this world we often loosen the shackles of our darker side when we don’t have to worry as much about the consequences of our actions.
I only found the news about Bill Cosby surprising because of what he meant to me personally, but I was not surprised in the larger sense. These things happen all the time, why shouldn’t it occasionally happen to someone I really admired?
And though you have moved on and are far past it, since it is new to me, I still want to give you a hug over the fact that you were raped and molested. So let me at least imagine that, even though I know you have a strong will and clearly don’t play the victim. No one should have to have such things happen to them, and I am glad you were able to learn from such horror and move on.
I should add, that I totally understand why these women didn’t come forward before. Imagine being a young actress trying to make a career, and you get to meet a big TV and Film star. You’re thinking such connections will help you, you’re a bit starstruck yourself having someone so famous who seems interested in you. Then you are sexually violated. Whose going to believe you? And even if they did, it still has to be proven in court…and this is Bill Cosby, everybody loves him. At best you will simply be ignored and never get an acting job again. At worst you will be shamed, humiliated, and ridiculed for accusing a legend like Bill Cosby of rape and still never get another acting job again. Women unfortunately face choices like this all the time, even with less famous men. It could just be family friend that everybody in your family loves and thinks is a great person and simply don’t believe you.
“”Sometimes life is bitter and some moments are worth the bitterness that presents an opportunity to inspire.””
Is something I wrote a time ago. Life is not here to protect us and for many people are not here to protect us. Rather it is what we do with life, the experiences we live and assimilate, how we choose our own outcome. There are so many detours in life, how we handle the outcome is the importance.
Always remembering how eloquent my father was, the wars he played a monumental factor in and never discussed it, but left it behind. His gracious demeanor to be approachable by anyone, treating everyone with dignity – and yet, I saw his clay feet!!
It took many years for me to come to an acceptance of what good I could take from my family and carry on. Poise and humility are at the forefront and yet, sometimes a bit impossible to keep my mouth shut. Dang we redheads speak out and sometimes it’s an OOPPSS – keep moving on.
I do feel for these women, also everyone that is accosted around the world. We are changing slowly – many books of awareness are being written to bring to light the opprobrious and malignant vile humans conduct themselves under. Compassion and understanding – separating the immediate emotional reaction of anger and revile must be put aside into order to gain resolution.
Power can relieve the horror and it can create the stench death bog of life. We have to make clear choices. When life lays so much at the feet of those who reach out for the stars and attain, more comes their way. How one handles these moments is a true testament to their integrity. Many fail and fall to the glitter surrounding them. It is a difficult balance. I do believe at that point Humility is one of the greatest yet difficult skills to hon in life. Thanks Swarn for this blog. I hope many read it and see the cap that must be bridged. MicheleElys
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Swarn, You are not supporting Cosby, but whether a person does see the good and the bad is moot at this point. The emotional stance from above, is that emotional for so many women have been harmed, beyond Cosby. When caught up in this degree of emotion, we are rendered ineffectual to solve any of these problems that continue to plague humanity.
Cosby is dead now and with him goes sorrow, lost and remembrance of a great man who had a dark side. This is the repressive sorrowful side of mankind. We grow so slowly and react without listening.
Swarn you did an excellent blog on this subject, a harsh reality, a dismissal of a talented man who could not control a hideous side. Thank you MicheleElys
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I’m going to be hated by my comments…. But they should have come forward. I dont give a f*** who he was or what u wanted in life…he drugged and raped. I bet if someone broke into their home and stole their belongings they would call the police… So why not do the same when someone breaks into your body?!! As women we HAVE to report this to save other women!!
I have teenage sons….2 have been approached (neither molested but the men wanted to, also 2 separated instances) we reported these men. Once we did, other boys came forward. One man is in prison .. Think about how many boys were saved. The second incident, there was no proof but it’s on file in case this other man hurts another child. These crimes need to be reported to save others!!!
I can understand a child or teenager being afraid to report…. But grown women, we know better. Think about how many women would have been saved if the first couple of women reported him to the police.
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I agree with you in theory, but I don’t think it’s because those women were afraid of tarnishing Bill Cosby’s name as the reason for not coming forward. Bill Cosby was loved for being a family man, a comedian (who told clean jokes), you are a struggling actress trying to get your start. And keep in mind that Cosby particularly targeted women who were nobody’s trying to make their acting dreams come true. I mean how many times are men convicted of rape even nowadays…30 years ago…trying to accuse one of the most beloved celebrities. Most likely you would lose that battle and any chance you had of a career. And perhaps that is selfish, but aren’t all people who want to be famous actors a bit selfish? You sort of have to be to be successful. In talking to a number of friends of mine, the decision to report things like that is always weighed against how well you can prove it and how much you want to relive it all again and have your name out there and possibly dragged through the mud given how society can easily turn it around on you and make you out to be a slut and in this case perhaps also seen as someone without scruples to tarnish someone’s good name in order to get famous and bolster her career. I find it hard to judge those women, but I do wish that someone stopped him.
Certainly you did the right thing with your boys, but remember that the way society views child molestation and rape of women is different. It is far easier to protect yourself from rape allegations than child molestation allegations.
Can i put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. Being a mom to a lot of sons and a wife to a professor, I look at things in a man’s perspective. I’ll be honest, I do not know all the details of Cosby’s rape. The reason these things need to be reported at the time is so they can collect evidence. What if years later a few girls say they were attacked by my husband. He’s a nice looking professor… Why would anyone make false claims? Idk, but we see it happen a lot. How can my husband defend himself? He cant. His name is ruined. Dirt!! No evidence just a he said /she said.
Victims have to come forward to protect other women and they need to come forward to protect innocent men from falsely accused.
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I’m not saying I disagree with you at all, I’m simply saying I am not in any position to judge these women as I see reasons why they wouldn’t have said anything, even though I wish they would. Underreporting of rape is a big problem even today, let alone 30 years ago, and I imagine there is a reason why many women don’t report it that has little to do with how moral or immoral they are. I wonder if any of the women who have come forward feel as you do. Do they wish one of the earlier women had come forward at the time possibly sparing them of the experience, or do they understand where the woman is coming from, being a young actress trying to make your way and depending on the support of people more famous than yourself to make it. I would imagine there is a lot more sympathy and understanding amongst the women for each other’s predicament rather than animosity over somebody before them not coming forward. I could be wrong. The similarity in all their stories, at least to me, sounds like they were victims of a serial rapist, and regardless of whether any of them came forward or not, the real criminal is the rapist.
I would think there’s a little bit of both. For example, my sons were 14 (I find that odd, but I’ll continue). I want to clarify, neither were molested. One was asked a sexually explicit question. The other was touched outside his clothing while asleep (he woke up, this was a pastor too). Anyway, I understand victims being afraid. Hell, what boy wants to say a grown man touched or said something to them? It’s humiliating. It took my second son a month. He didn’t want people to know. So I understand that fear. But, I’m pissed because I KNOW there are other victims!!! But they are too afraid to come forward. So I’m going to assume, the Cosby victims /accusers have mixed feelings. They understand the fear, but probably wish someone has saved them … Also guilt for not coming forward earlier.
Sometimes doing the right thing is hard as hell. I hope as a society, we are moving in a direction where women/men will come forward and where we won’t put up with false claims.
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I agree with you, and every indication is that underreporting of rape is decreasing with time. But it was a lot worse 30 years ago, as rape convictions were not very common, especially going up against somebody like Bill Cosby. It’s unclear how much social support they had. Had some of them known each other, they might have felt more powerful as a group to come forward. Like I said, I just don’t feel like I am in a position to judge. Having never experienced being raped, and not knowing what it’s like to be a woman, and in that situation 30 years ago.
My husband is surprised at my strong opinion on this subject. He seems to be more sympathetic (as you are) than what I am. I think being a woman, I feel we need to stick together and protect each other. We are physically more weak, so our protection needs to come in different ways. I’m not sure if that makes sense lol. I may not be able to beat an intruder off, but I sure can alert other women about him…. And that’s how I can protect others from harm.
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I think that’s a great attitude and I’m quite certain the right one. Had I been a friend of one of these ladies, I would have definitely counseled them to come forward. All I know though is that if I were to imagine myself in that situation. I wake up thinking…Oh my god I’ve been raped. I flee the seen…he may not have penetrated my vagina…I was passed out…what did he do exactly? I’ve fled the scene…evidence can already get destroyed…did anyone know I was coming to his hotel room? Did anyone see me? If I really believed that reporting this would only damage my reputation and career while doing nothing to his…it’s a hell of a decision to make. Because if instead you become the laughing stock, you’ve prevented nothing, except for a serial rapist now learning to be even more careful to hide evidence. The thing you don’t know is that if you did come forward a lot of other people would too (depending on whether the press got wind of it or not…could be covered up effectively too)…but you have no idea how common it is either. You really are preaching the morally right action to take, I just don’t think the decision is always that easy for everybody. I don’t completely understand myself.
I understand and believe all those things went through their minds. I just know I couldn’t sleep at night knowing he’s doing it to other women. It would haunt me.
With my second son, it was so scary. He is a pastor and everyone loves him. We are new to this city. My husband and I talked about it. I didn’t want us to be the only ones that brought him down. It is so so so hard. We did report him. No others came forward. But it is there on file. We did the best we could. I told u all of that because I do understand that fear.
I also wonder, even tho these women didn’t report it to the police…. Did these women talk? Did word get out about what he did/does, so women would avoid being alone with him… Like the office creeper.
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I don’t think I would be able to sleep at night either. And I don’t know if they talked about it to anyone else. I imagine in Hollywood there are always tons of rumors flying around….it would be difficult to sort out truth from fiction. If the most famous family-oriented celebrity invited you up to his room on innocent pretext, and knowing that his support could land you a big role, would your mind tend to believe or disbelieve the rumor? Answers always seem obvious in hindsight too…I’m older now and wiser…if I was in my early 20’s trying to start my career…I want to believe I would still come forward, but it’s just hard to say.
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And if Cosby is actually guilty, then tarnishing his reputation is a small price to pay for what he really deserves.
If he’s guilty, I agree 110%!!!!!!
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