Jun 282017

The Cosby Show was one of my favorite television programs when I was a kid.  For a period of time, it was probably my absolute favorite.  Of course, created by and starred in by Bill Cosby, the show for the most part was good wholesome family fun.  As with anything, there were always elements that could be nitpicked or criticized, but on the whole, the program was very humorous and successful.

Bill Cosby was known as America’s Dad.  His role as the father of the Huxtable clan on this family sitcom, the number one rated show on tv for several years, forged his reputation.  Cosby was beloved for his humor and devotion to family and generally wise advice about life and parenting and relationships.  He was a revered American folk hero.

Undoubtedly, you know where this is going because Bill Cosby has been in the news the past couple years for entirely different reasons.  Last week in suburban Philadelphia, a mistrial was declared as the jury could not come to unanimous agreement as to Cosby’s guilt on charges of sexual assault.  Prosecutors want another trial while reports are that Cosby wants to start a speaking tour, tutoring people on how to avoid accusations of sexual assault (insert your own snide remark here).  The whole thing is quite demoralizing.

When accusations first came out against Cosby, I hoped them not to be true.  Bill Cosby was a man whom I had long liked and thought of well.  I enjoyed his humor and entertainment and he seemed to get the importance of life and family and responsibility.  I did not want the allegations to be true.  If the same accusations were made of many other famous people, I would probably hardly blink an eye.  But with Cosby, I thought he was different than the norm.

As the number of accusers continued to grow and grow, my hopes became less and less.  Some people came to his defense saying that it was all a liberal conspiracy to take down an African American man who spouted many conservative values.  Was such a thing possible?  I guess so.  However, there was just too much forebodement of guilt for me to sign up for any conspiracy theory.

I was not in that courtroom and I have not done any thorough investigation of the details and circumstances of all the accusations, but I am inclined to believe that Cosby is guilty of some, if not most and possibly even all of the accusations of sexual misconduct against him.  And this is the reason why:

I have seen this type of scenario play out so many times over the last so many years and the accused almost always end up being found guilty.  And this scenario is where an individual, or group of individuals, or organization has partaken in some type of sexual misconduct, sometimes over long periods of time, and have managed to conceal and cover up that wrongdoing by measure of their power and influence wielded over the victims.  From the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal to the Penn State football program to the various other stories covered in the media, including many church-related cases covered here, the story is remarkably the same.  Someone or some group that commits these terrible crimes, along with support from their close allies, collectively shame and manipulate and pressure their victims into silence and have been able to keep control over the situation for a long time.  Finally, and thankfully, enough circumstances and details eventually escape the control of the controllers and slowly but surely the wrongdoers are found out.

The advent of the internet and social media probably has much to do with this.  While these things can be a double edged sword and much harm can be brought about by false accusations, it has also given a voice and a conduit to be heard to those who previously had none.  Sometimes it takes only that first person to speak about what happened to them.  Then someone else out there in the world happens to see what that first person said and it hit homes with them because they experienced the same.  They are encouraged and emboldened by that first person speaking out and so they speak up, too.  Then another person sees those first two people speaking out and so on and so on.  What starts as a trickle can sometimes quickly turn into a deluge.  When these types of things happen around false accusations and nefarious motives, they are terrible incidents.  But when they revolve around the truth-telling of terrible past happenings, they are helping to bring justice to situations that otherwise would have never been resolved or even known.

In Cosby’s case, there have now been more than 50 women who have spoken out.  Very few or none who even knew each other, but just about all with very similar tales of what he allegedly did to them.  Yes, it could be some great grand conspiracy.  Or much more likely it is that Cosby is a dirty old man who long had been able to use the power of his celebrity to get away with sexual assault.  Adding to the accusations, there is Cosby’s own past deposition where he admits to drugging women and committing some pretty creepy sexual behavior toward/with them.  And finally, according to the reports, ten of the twelve jurors on this one case that did make it court thought he was guilty and wanted to convict.  All in all, I am very inclined to believe the alleged victims.  Sadly, it would seem quite probable that the real Bill Cosby has a very dark side that betrays his former fame as America’s Dad.

For those of us in the church, we should take heed to learn from and be aware of such situations.  We well know the church is not immune.  We should not be quick to believe every accusation thrown against our pastors and leaders and other fellow believers and even unbelievers.  But we also should not be so quick to dismiss the accusations, especially when there appears to be potential substance to them.  Our acumen and own sin nature should tell us that all of us, even our spiritual leaders, can be just as vulnerable to harrowing sin.  And our observation of other similar cases should tell us that it is far from abnormal for a person or group of people to use their position of power and influence to constrain and conceal their sins and their victims.

May God give us wisdom and compassion and a sense of justice if and when encountering such potentially traumatic situations.


  19 Responses to “Kevin’s Conversations: America’s Dad”

  1. Michael,

    Just sent you an email. Somehow you got a not quite final version of my article as some of my final edits somehow didn’t get saved. Nothing of significance in the article changes, just trying to make it a little easier to read and a couple grammar corrections.

    So if it’s not too much trouble, would you be able to post the updated version? I don’t know how much work that takes, so if you’re not able to, I can certainly live with my slightly even more clunky writing than normal. 🙂

  2. I’m not home at the moment, but I’ll fix it as soon as I am

  3. Thanks, Michael.

  4. Cosby is an actor, in a scripted show, written for a target demographic.
    Offstage he’s quite unlike his Huxtable character.

    We who are busy ad-libbing real life realize, from time to time, that we’re merely players and that all the world’s a stage, but it means everything how we treat our fellow thespians on and off stage.

  5. Off Topic

    Kevin – this is for you, but others can peek… https://youtu.be/M8Wt3dhF4fU

  6. G,

    My liking of Cosby was more than just his scripted tv show. In his public appearances outside of his scripted shows, he always came across to me as a likeable guy. Since he is a Philadelphia native, he often appeared at different events around the city and gave me the same impression. Sadly, what he did in private seemingly was very different than what his public persona projected.

  7. chewing on G’s #4… why do we have such a hard time grasping the point made regarding the actor (the celebrity with a pulpit) and the real person? why do we fall so short in teaching our children (sons as well as daughters) to discern the difference between an act and reality?

    i recall, as a teenager, finding myself steered into a celebrity’s dressing room as he (good looking Broadway star) stood out on the stage signing autographs… i was naive, but miffed as i was just waiting for a friend who was in the crowd waiting for autographs… why had they told me to “wait in here?” i didn’t even want an autograph… after a little while, i left in a bit of a huff… didn’t dawn on me until i was much older that there could have been a nefarious reason… but even back then i probably would have thought, oh no, he’s much too nice a man to be “that way.”

    i like the King James translation best, but 2 Tim 3:1-9 comes to mind (sorry G, but i am extrapolated off your wise words above)

  8. Duane,

    That was quite good. But now you’re making the worlds of my randomly chosen article topics to collide. Who knows what the collateral damage may be. 🙂

  9. Kevin,
    Our organization had Cosby as a featured guest entertainer in Chicago some years ago. He was a creepy jerk to my manager (a woman), and his stage show descended into a gripe-fest-get-off-my-lawn riff. Our audience are some real-world tough individuals who put up with the worst in healthcare, they’re true heroes. Cosby was a whiny lightweight reaching into his well worn bag of tricks only to have one thing after another fall flat. The overall response was, “What was THAT about?!”

  10. Em,
    Glad you dodged a creepy situation!

  11. One of the biggest collisions of on screen and off screen persona in my mind is John Wayne that lingers for many in my generation through the present. Although in my case, even as a child, I rooted for the Native Americans – he came to represent so much that is still deeply revered as manly, heroic and patriotic in our culture. Having children that briefly attended school with his, working as a caretaker next door to one of his ex wives, and other close proximity to his off screen persona, he almost always represented what I came to loathe most about some facets of American culture. My strong outspoken opinions have not gone over well, whether in Orange Cty church environments( where he was a saint to many) tending bar back in the day in NM or even as a child in Tx siding with Native Peoples. Growing up in military was not a great place to let on you weren’t a fan either, Lol. Took me a very, very long time to even think of him with an ounce of compassion, my disdain was so great. Now my biggest challenge in seeing their humanity with compassion lives in the WH …..

  12. I forgot to mention that what was so off putting about JWs offscreen persona was that he was an ugly, wife/child abusising alcoholic, angry rude in public, philandering, given a pass for all kinds of behavior he could buy his way out of with law enforcement and enough millions to the GOP.

  13. G,

    I had previously seen Cosby descending into the grumpy-old-man get-off-my-lawn persona. But I pretty much gave him a pass because I liked him and, well, he was in fact getting older and I don’t get too worked up about the grumpy old man syndrome that seems to inflict a good many. But I hear what you’re saying.

    When the other stuff came about Cosby, however, that was a whole different ballgame.

  14. Am I the only one pondering the popular catch phrase of the day in connection with the topic raised here by Kevin: ” white privilege? ” Perhaps the “privilege” would be better described as what comes with fame and/or wealth? America will grow up when we all concede that good and bad behavior have no color resonators – IMO
    Our instinct is to side with the losers as much as it is to admire the so called winners… but how many losers/victims would be bad actors, themselves, given the chance? … Pondering things like discernment, compassion, forgiveness …?…

  15. resonators? Bad spell check !bad bad bad spell check determinator d e t e r m I n a t o r
    (I don’t care if you don’t think it’s a word)

  16. i halfway expected a lecture on the meaning of “white privilege” 🙂
    if anyone went to the trouble to read my comment posted above and is biting their tongue (or their fingers)… i do know its historic reference – what is bothering me is the catch phrases and mindless use of labels to excuse whatever is wrong or perceived as wrong now – in today’s world
    maybe one of yesterdays links got under my skin and prompted the above – i read one yesterday equating today’s trigger happy, nervous police with the lynch mobs of yesterday (BTW, in my opinion, God is going to deal much more severely with those who’ve participated in lynch mobs than He will with America’s slave owners of yesterday – but that’s just my view)…
    Michael is so patient with old people’s posts… wish there were more of us here

  17. I made a Bill Cosby reference from his stand up to a white guy the other day.

    He looked at me as if I’d eaten a small child.

    Another one bites the dust. Par for the course. The rest of us need to get a grip and play through.

  18. i recall Cosby from the days of his series with Robert(?) Culp – entertaining, but even then they seemed like they’d be bad or at least wild “actors” in real life… we women do have instincts, if we listen to them

  19. This case is interesting in that the stories are consistent and the crime is confirmed by so many voices. It was interesting that a much short list of women accusing Trump arose but the matter did not catch. The story seemed to have no wings. It fell to the ground. Cosby seemed so unlikely in his public persona. Trump seemed definitely likely by his marital history and persona. I am not making a big point other than my surprise that the Trump accusations did not go anywhere.

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