Sunday, November 23, 2014

We need to hear from Bill Cosby

061003-N-0000K-001 Dr. William H. "Bill&q...
Bill Cosby, now under scrutiny from alleged past deeds
Allegations in recent days have been leveled against Bill Cosby by a long line of women. These allegations are disturbing for so many reasons, but the biggest danger is to try to paint this picture in black and white, without the predominantly gray areas that must be examined. 

Understanding what really happened all those years ago is not going to be easy, especially when only one side--the side of the alleged victims--of the story is being told. Media can't be expected to paint a complete picture when all the facts aren't available. 

What has been written will likely result in so much regurgitation from all who have an appetite for every morsel of information about this seemingly scandalous story. The danger to the truth comes when seasoning is added to those morsels in the form of sensationalism and misinformation added by both media sources and the consuming public.

It is for that reason that I think Cosby owes it to the millions of people who have admired him for years, to at least explain his side of the story.

Like all others, I am trying to understand this story. 

I admit I rarely watched the Bill Cosby show. I doubt I ever watched a half dozen episodes. I don't recall ever watching I Spy. So, the only thing I really knew about Bill Cosby was the comedian that I saw on variety shows. I considered him to be a very funny guy, in a real world view kind of way. 

He wasn't really even on my radar, until he began talking to black youth about their behavioral issues. That impressed me. Someone had to do it. Someone had to take a stand that might affect the uptick in black on black crime in the inner cities. Someone with standing had to be heard. 

The first thing I have to say is that we must not judge what happened 30, 40, 50 years ago by the standards and attitudes which have evolved since that time, particularly in regard to feminist issues. Times have indeed changed. Woman have come a long way since those days and see things through a completely different lens. We must not use that lens to judge the past.

As a society, we need to define and discuss rape. This one word covers everything from the violent, horrific physical act that includes beating, bruising, and death or near-death experiences that happen to include sexual intercourse, to the more psychologically-harming drug-induced sex act and everything in between. I believe there are very many variants of what we now call rape. 

The way rape is viewed by law enforcement varies from state to state as well as in judicial remedies. But probably the biggest road block in the understanding of rape may be in the interpretative differences between men and women. As much as we are equal, we are also different. We need to better understand our differences.

One thing that has changed drastically, and with good reason, is the tendency to blame the victim when it comes to sex crimes, whether it be a woman or a man. The catch all seems to have been provocative clothing. While this is of course no reason to rape someone, nor should any woman dressing in sexy clothes be targeted or blamed, we need to understand why clothing may be a contributing factor to why someone rapes. Instead of casually dismissing it, its context must be understood. 

Our society is to blame for much of how this story has seemingly unfolded, at least from what is known. Why do we treat celebrities as though they are god-like? Why would a 19-year old girl accept drinks and especially drugs offered to her during a seemingly casual encounter? Is Bill Cosby a rapist or is he suffering from a sexual addiction? What was his motive? Why would anyone think it is OK to drug someone and then have sex with them without their consenting participation? 

There are so many more questions about this story, but the bottom line is, I'd like to hear from Cosby. Is he sick? Is he still sick? Does he want to live the rest of his life with this cloud of certain speculation over him? Is his attempt to counsel inner city youth his way of apologizing for his own indiscretions? What do the women he allegedly violated hope to get from telling their stories? 

Until those questions are answered, it is impossible to draw conclusions.