Bill Cosby Redux

Bill & CamilleIn light of recent revelations, my daughter urged me to delete my recent post about Bill Cosby.

As the extensive evidence of a sordid past have been coming to light, albeit accusations rather than substantiated facts, the propriety of that original post falls into question.

For the time being, I am disposed to leaving it up. For several reasons. I could say one is the notion of “innocent until proven guilty,” but that’s not true. Despite statutes of limitations, the accumulating evidence, quite sadly, appears indisputable.

On the subject of innocence, I admit to confused sentiments. As a Christian, who accepts the historic doctrine of “original sin,” I confess at every worship service that I too am a hopeless sinner, in dire need of God’s grace and mercy. What’s more, as a Christian who believes we cannot earn forgiveness, I point not to my own ragged good works, but rely wholly on the grace—the undeserved love—of God.

C.S. Lewis recognized that mercy is the only solution for our guilt. In “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” he wrote these words:

The essential act of mercy was to pardon; and pardon in its very essence involves the recognition of guilt and ill-desert in the recipient. If crime is only a disease which needs cure, not sin which deserves punishment, it cannot be pardoned.

I am quite conscious of my own deep need for pardon. Thus, I am ever wary of condemning those whose heart I cannot know.

The second reason for my reticence in removing this post, is that much of it remains true. The Bill Cosby who offered our family genuine laughter and wholesome entertainment, was apparently not identical with the real man.

But then I pause to wonder how many celebrities are truly consistent with their public persona? And, in light of the fact that we all have our failures and sometimes grievous sins, why should we expect them to be transparent and vulnerable to greater emotional violence than they all already receive?

My comments below were written with the understanding I possessed two short months ago. They were heartfelt at that time, and they illustrate in a clear way how perception is not always reality. Perhaps they can serve as a sort of a caution to others who are prone to investing too much trust in people they do not genuinely know.

Another reason I am inclined to leave the post up for the time being, is that there may be a value in preserving the quality of the artist’s work, even when we have been disappointed by the artist himself.

As an example of this, during a sketch on the last episode of Saturday Night Live, Michael Che criticized the actor’s vile behavior, but ended his scripted “newscast” with a thought that I believe represents the view of many.

“I don’t know how to feel about [networks cancelling The Cosby Show] because I don’t know Bill Cosby, but Cliff Huxtable practically raised me. I love that dude, and the only thing he ever tried to sneak while people were asleep is a hoagie. So while I may never forgive Bill Cosby, hopefully someday I can forgive Dr. Huxtable.”

It’s that Bill Cosby, the idealized, honorable, ever-witty, and doting father, that I remind my wife of. And I remain flattered by that.

Meanwhile, I pray for Bill and Camille Cosby. I pray for the victims of his offenses. I pray for the victims of some of those very women who, in likely turn, have wounded others because of their own emotional and spiritual injuries.

Sin is powerful. It’s effects cascade from life to life. But sin and evil do not have the final word. That is left to the Word incarnate, who has redeemed this fallen world. The Lord who heals our wounds and offers the glorious promise that one day . . .

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21.4).

12 thoughts on “Bill Cosby Redux

  1. Very thoughtful post. One of the things I find most horrifying about this situation is the fact that many are upset because that means their hero has deceived them, not because of the women he harmed.

  2. John J Flanagan

    Well….if the allegations are true, Mr Cosby has not admitted whether he raped the women in question or not. So it becomes difficult to prove….but I am suspicious when so many years and decades pass before the victims suddenly surface. Could be related to civil litigation, and Mr Cosby has been advised by counsel to deny, deny, deny.

    1. True, but you’ll see from my comments that the veracity of the charges themselves. I’m discovering this to be a far more introspective journey than I would ever have anticipated it being.

  3. The Gospel of Barney

    A sad commentary on all of humanity, not your blog, but this whole sordid business; Paul recognized, “But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, (Romans 7:20-22)

  4. With our family having experienced a very similar kind of abuse by someone who was trusted by us and respected and well-regarded both in their profession and in their church, this hits quite close to home. It’s often hard for people who have no personal experience with abuse to understand why victims would not come forward immediately. We happen to know–and to have been told by very wise counselors–that there are many reasons for this. The abusers usually choose a victim that is less likely, by virtue of their own personality, to tell. There is fear of not being believed. There’s fear of the unjust justice system and what women are put through when they come forward with their stories. There are feelings of shame. There are MANY valid reasons why people don’t tell; that should not be a reason to doubt them. And why would Bill Cosby admit his guilt? He’s still hoping to deny his way out of prison and the loss of his career. If he admits his guilt, he’s asking to be punished.

    The very interesting thing is that once we made the decision to talk to others about our family’s experience, THREE separate people came forward and told us they had experienced abuse at the hands of this same person. Each one spoke to us separately and did not know about the others. The abuser had been victimizing women for years, and yet only one of them had ever mentioned it to anyone else. (They were a sixteen year old girl and two women in their 20’s–not children.) The one who did ask for help was brushed off with “oh, he’s just like that.” The others never told anyone.

    Do I know that Bill Cosby is guilty? No, I don’t. Do I believe his accusers? Yes, I’m afraid I do. This is way too much déja vu.

    1. Tragic. I’ll say a prayer this evening for your family’s continued healing.

      If all abuse cases came to light, people would be stunned (I believe) to learn that hardly a family is left unscathed. But, as you say, there are so many reasons why the truth is suppressed, that most cases remain lost to silence.

  5. Consider that Mr. Cosby may well be paying a price for speaking truth to Progressive racism. Allegations can be more destructive to ones life than proven events. Speaking out against the established role assigned to people of color by the media and the government won’t be tolerated. I am not saying he isn’t guilty of the allegations, but I am saying that at this point his guilt isn’t required for his life to be destroyed beyond repair by the simple suggestion of wrong doing. I think it is mostly a question of payback from the Race Industrial Complex. Wait for the proof before knotting the noose.

    1. I’m sure this is a factor in how all of the reports have been covered. There is no question that in America the press treatment of liberals and conservatives is vastly inequitable. Cosby’s past statements about individual accountability have made him unpopular with many so-called “progressive” media outlets. And, as you say, the accusations themselves (especially when reported as “fact”) are quite destructive.

Offer a Comment or Insight

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.