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 multi-millionaire, Manson an unwed sixteen year old. I’m sure if Manson had his druthers, he would have picked The Donald’s situation.
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, 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 has been battling.
During the ’60’s, ’70’s, and maybe still, it was the male that procured the recreational medicinals for the evening festivities. At the onset let me say that in that culture the medicinals were shared, not forced. The female’s quid pro quo generally speaking was being “appreciative” of the male’s efforts. Apparently Cosby’s drug of choice was methaqualone, “ludes” which were highly sought after. Watch the movie “Looking For Mr. Goodbar” for a refresher course on the times.
It’s in that context that I think we should view the allegations made against Mr. Cosby. The assertion that many women came to Cosby’s room to, “discuss their careers” and were “surprised” when Mr. Cosby made advances, is tenuous. I know in the south that mothers will be the first to say, “if she was dumb enough to go to his room…….” Harsh assessment, but the complainants calculated the “risk/reward” and decided the risk was worth taking.
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? Probably, but without criminal charges being filed, only the participants know for sure. The one allegation filed in a manner timely enough for the police to follow up on has had an interesting resolution.
Cosby’s admission to providing drugs for a consensual sexual act in a civil suit was used to convict him criminally. That case has now blown up. In some form of cosmic irony, Donald Trump’s lead impeachment lawyer fouled up and now Cosby is free.