Bad behavior writ large is how Plato described the state–sort of like the individual, but larger and easier to examine. And that larger stage, so to speak, is why I’m glad that Bill Cosby’s bad behavior toward women has now gone public. Because for 25 years, while the general public was enjoying Cosby’s kindly TV character, his Jello commercials and his books, I knew something different.
I knew he was most likely a sexual predator.
I was on a plane to Singapore for business and sitting next to me was a beautiful, 19-year-old Eurasian model. It’s a long trip, and as we settled into our business class seats, we began to talk. She eventually mentioned her desire to break into television, and then, as the conversation progressed, told me about Bill Cosby. That she knew him and he’d offered to trade roles in a TV series–maybe even a starring role– for sex.
Now, Cosby’s image as a family man was a stark contrast to what she was describing. But as she talked I heard the ring of truth in her words. It made me view him differently from then on, of course.
I wasn’t surprised when the first charge became public. Even so, his public persona was strong and fans simply didn’t want to believe the accusations that he drugged women and assaulted them. That he was completed inappropriate in sexual ways. “Not our hero!”
Of course, women who have been sexually assaulted are accustomed to this scenario. You know, the one in which their charges of assault couldn’t possibly be true. The sheer number of women who stepped up with horrific stories should have made the Cosby situation very clear. But still, even modern women, accomplished women, said things like “I don’t want to believe unproven allegations.”
Well, you know, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. You can say you’re not sure, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a duck. The cumulative weight of the allegations told the story. So many women!
So again, when a peer told me her own Bill Cosby bad behavior story, I wasn’t surprised. Not at all. That’s two who spoke with me directly about his behavior, and I am so not linked in to that world. Not in the slightest.
We throw the word “hero” around a lot these days, too much I believe. And of course, this beloved TV Dad, Fat Albert, intellectual man was a hero to many. But. There’s a lot we don’t know about public figures. We need to be careful about this hero thing and also about closing our eyes to truths when they come out.
There’s validity in not wanting to judge too soon, but there’s also validity in listening to the preponderance of evidence.
The saddest thing of all to me is that in the 21st century women are dismissed and even castigated when they charge a famous man with sexual assault. It’s hard to fathom. But there you have it.
“You’ve come a long way, baby.” But not really.
Want more evidence of Cosby’s bad behavior?
Here’s a Gawker story about why people simply do not want to think Cosby is a sexual predator.
Here’s a timeline of some of the accusations against him.
And here’s what we need to do: