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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Cosby’s reputation is slippery as Jell-O, despite fame

    I grew up watching Bill Cosby, paragon of American fatherhood, in Nick at Nite reruns. “The Cosby Show” was progressive for a variety of reasons, and I have understandably since associated Cosby with wholesome family values, awesome sweaters and eventually (many years later) raunchy, raunchy stand-up. Unfortunately, now that I’ve chosen to believe the word of 15 (and counting!) different women and their stories of sexual assault, that image has been tarnished.

    For me, there really wasn’t an option in deciding where I stood on the decades-old and now more recent allegations against Cosby. In America, we’re indoctrinated — and rightfully so — to a narrative of innocent until proven guilty. This concept, however, should not prevent victims, who are already at a disadvantage and against a statistical gradient that discourages them from reporting their stories, from bringing to light transgressions against them.

    In an already difficult climate, it is even worse for victims to allege they were assaulted by a celebrity. Cosby has had almost half a century of reputation building to shield himself from these sorts of accusations.

    It also doesn’t help that society is already so willing to turn a blind eye to this situation and other similar ones.

    We are a nation that has collectively decided to look past egregious infractions, belittling the experiences of victims to preserve the pride and image of the apparently more important perpetrators. Preferring to look past horrific incidents of sexual abuse and assault when the images of people or institutions are more important than the physical and emotional well-being of a victim is at best irresponsible and at worst inhumane. (I’m looking at you, Penn State, and anyone who stood with Roman Polanski or Woody Allen.)

    In commenting on Polanski drugging a child and subsequently having sex with a 13-year-old, Whoopi Goldberg, world-renowned sexual assault expert and brilliant legal mind, put everything into perspective.

    “I know it wasn’t rape-rape,” Goldberg said. “It was something else, but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.”

    Great, so it’s not rape-rape, Whoopi, so Polanski shouldn’t have to go to jail-jail. I wonder if he even like-liked the child he abused or if it was something else. The fact of the matter is, although Goldberg doesn’t think we should be passionate or involved in any situation that doesn’t have all the facts and information presented before a court of law, the evidence is clear: Polanski raped a child. The most disgusting part of that whole debacle is that people think Polanski being arrested or extradited is infringing upon his rights as an artist and borders on censorship. Clearly, artists, even if they are known felons, deserve some sense of extra liberty.

    It’s almost like they are white, male senators or something.

    The 15 or so women who are coming forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault and rape are entering into an arena that is already opposed to believing their stories and that has little to no interest in investigating the validity of their claims. On top of this already uphill battle, the statute of limitations on criminal charges and civil litigation has run its gambit: These women have no monetary or legal incentive to pursue Cosby, but they do have personal, social motives.

    So, sorry, Bill Cosby. I don’t feel bad that you’ve had your Netflix series cancelled and your network special pulled. I am sorry that, as Americans, we are too lazy to commit to investigating allegations of sexual assault because we would rather conserve resources and save time and face protecting men like Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky and Woody Allen than believing women who, in all likelihood, were actually victimized.

    Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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