So by now everyone if familiar with the allegations surrounding Bill Cosby and his alleged drugging and raping of several women throughout his career. Recently about 40 women have come forward to allege that Cosby used drugs to rape them. Cosby’s guilt remains in public discussion as his legacy becomes dismantled and his supporters become few amid the speculations.
I, myself, have taken my time in addressing the issue. Firstly because they are allegations and I was waiting to hear more of the story before making any personal judgments but also because I had no desire to dismantle this Black man. I will say that Bill Cosby in the last 10 years has been vocal about a number of issues about the Black community, young Black man in general and education. Most of which I fiercely disagree with his opinions to the extent that I will admit I began to lose respect for him. So I am not exactly what you would call a Cosby supporter. And with the new evidence from previous court depositions now circling in the media I can say that if I had an opinion about Cosby’s guilt I would have to say as most people would that since he has previously admitted to the actual act and got away with it, it is likely that he would have done it again.
That said what I really would like to discuss about the Cosby issue is something bigger than his guilt. It is about the perversion and poisoning of the justice system and America’s blood lust. I find this to be the more poignant issues to discuss because they do not just affect Cosby but in other contexts have served to fail justice and to scapegoat getting to the root of the problems. I’m merely using the Cosby scandal as an example to do so.
We have become a country of – as I often call it – ‘Mean Girls.’ It often reminds of the comedic movie by the same title in which a group of high school girls make it their mission to exclude everyone else from their inner circle and regard them with calculated cruelty, just because. In that way American society has become the ultimate ‘mean girl’ always seeking to administer cruelty and the destruction of individuals jsut because it can. Take for instance the way that celebrities and public personalities are treated. We will love them and praise them for five minutes and then in almost the next breath we will rip them apart piece by piece. What makes it so insidious and egregious is that we have the audacity to use some flaw, error or mishap on the individual’s part to justify doing so. Instead of recognizing it for the sadistic act it is we spin it as some act of righteous indignation wherein we are taking down the bad guys. It’s disgusting.
In Cosby’s case the media and the public had judged and sentenced him almost from the time the first few women began to come forward. We immediately began to criticize everything he had ever said and to denounce everything positive he had ever done. There were very few people who would speak up for him or support him publicly. Whoopi Goldberg is one of the more recognized voices to do so. She received backlash for “not supporting” the women who were accusing Cosby. The media turned it into a grade school argument where a person had to take sides and in doing so become the sworn enemy of the opposition. Nothing could be more intellectually dishonest and immature. Nowhere had I heard Whoopi oppose these women or suggest that she knew they were lying or that rape is okay. Whoopi, like Cosby, has a lot of opinions upon which I disagree but I have to say I was proud of her for sharing her opinion and standing by it despite the attacks of shame that were thrown at her.
Whoopi makes solid and valid points on her support for Cosby. It isn’t so much that she just supports Cosby but Whoopi is calling out the miscarriage of American justice that occurs when we declare a person’s guilt, especially when the media and public figures weigh in on it without allowing due process of the law to take place. As Whoopi stated, a person is innocent until proven guilty – or they’re supposed to be. But all too often in America this is not the case.
This is the same type of actions and sentiments that often lead young Black men to their deaths when confronted with the justice system. Remember Trayvon who was deemed okay to be murdered because he “looked suspicious.” Remember Michael Brown who the public initially felt it was okay to gun down because as a young Black boy who would not do what a police officer told him, he must have been a criminal of some sort. Remember Eric Garner who must have been resisting arrest and warranted being murdered because certainly he wasn’t telling the truth when he said he couldn’t breath just because he was being legally arrested. Remember Renisha McBride who was shot in cold blood because a Black woman banging on a door in the middle of the night must be a burglar who warrants being shot so a man could defend his home. We don’t think of this things in the same way as we think of the Cosby issue because rape is thrown into the conversation and we want to support ant protect women and denounce rape so we can’t say anything objective or pragmatic in this context we have to project our hatred of rape upon a person – in this case – Cosby and destroy him. Certainly any man guilty of rape should get the punishment he deserves but before anyone could ever concretely say that Cosby was guilty, he was being punished and dismantled. So where then is justice? Where then is this notion of innocent until proven guilty? Furthermore, with the statute of limitations for Cosby’s accusers having already lapsed why aren’t we discussing what could get these women and many more true justice. Cause certainly taking down Cosby isn’t going to do it.
The Failure of the Justice System
With all the strong feelings regarding obtaining justice for Cosby’s accusers why hasn’t anyone attacked the legal statute of limitations that are and will continue to hold justice hostage for these women. As long as this remains there isn’t a prosecutor in any of the states where the rapes allegedly occurred that can go after Cosby and make him pay. So what then is the end game? Are we seeking to get Cosby’s confession? Do we want to see his legacy crumble? Do we want the world to turn its back on him? If so, then how is that justice for these women? How does that get a serial rapist off the street? Once again is this about justice or are we just being mean?
The court recently released a portion of Cosby’s deposition from the record of the first accuser in which Cosby admitted to having given drugs to the young woman. This is yet another perversion of the legal system because firstly we have to remember what it means when a case is settled as opposed to a judge ruling on the case. A settlement is an agreement between the 2 parties which most cases, as with Cosby’s, the parties agree to silence on the issue. In respect of this contract the court usually remains silent as well by sealing the records. Court records can be released at a judge’s order; however, in Cosby’s case the judge stated that he unsealed the records due to Cosby’s public moralizing stating:
The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist, and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter to which the AP – and by extension the public – has a significant interest.
What is so troublesome about this is that it has no legal standing. This judge deciding to unseal these records to support the dismantling of Cosby because he had feelings about the public statements that Cosby has made. Was this just an attempt to silence Cosby or to punish him for his views or just to humiliate him? None of these answers lends itself to the judge releasing these records in an attempt to support Cosby’s accusers or help them obtain justice. Because, again, the statute of limitations has expired. So to what end does the judge’s actions lead?
Part of the failure of the justice system is its thousands of loopholes through which lawyers and judges jump and toss people through at their whim. Certainly they find legal basis and precedence to support their decisions. And, of course, they articulate their positions with eloquence and persuasion. But at the root of it all is their personal and individual will. In similar fashion the media impresses its will through propaganda and sensational statements of speculation. And in turn we, the people, follow suit. I hear they’re calling it “the court of public opinion.”
I can’t even begin to say how it made my stomach turn to hear them throwing around this phrase like its an actual thing. When the public plays judge, jury and executioner that is not called “court.” That’s anarchy, vigilante and maybe even terrorism but it’s not court; there’s not respectable authority there. It’s troubling that officers of the court are actually utilizing this term but I bet you if we were talking about something other than the attacking of a Black man who had a respected legacy and reputation, public opinion wouldn’t mean much.
This notion, I believe, stems from the arbitrary nature in which many legal professionals treat the laws of the country. I believe it is because the legal system isn’t about justice at all. It’s about intellectual superiority between lawyers and judges. It’s about the empowering of powerless people like police officers – I say powerless in the comparison of their scope of authority compared to judges, lawyers and other professional figures with whom they constantly interact. It’s about using fear tactics that make example of people in hopes of scaring society into obeying the laws. And since it’s about everything but the truth, justice often fails.
We have to stop thinking that somehow our personal opinions actually matter in these public discussions. I have seen and heard so many people spouting what they think about Cosby’s guilt and what they think about what he should or shouldn’t have it he is guilty. Who cares? There are bigger issues at play. What really matters in the discussion is not my opinion about whether Cosby is innocent or guilty. Nor is it important whether or not I do or do not support these women. The real issue is that there is something wrong with our justice system: a system that apparently allowed a man to practically admit guilt and pay his way out of it; a system that places time constraints on a crime where it is a known fact that it often takes the victims long periods of time to confront and actually take action against their assailants; a system that would rather see a man destroyed than justice obtained. The only other real issue I see is the one with our society and how depraved we are to be engorging ourselves on the misery of both Cosby and his accusers when we do not even know the truth.
Perhaps, if requested, I will write a piece about whether I think Cosby is guilty or not. Or maybe I will write a piece about violence against women. But I wrote this piece because when all of the speculation and character assassinations are cleared away all we have is a famous man accused and the decades old declaration of a number of women. That’s all. We can’t even say for sure this is about rape or violence against women or about innocence and guilt because the only conversation being had is about Cosby, his legacy, and how and in which ways it should be taken apart. And at the end of the day, I find no joy, honor or justice in the destruction of a human being.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man