Live, coming to a town near you: an unrepentant Bill Cosby.
Cosby apparently has misunderstood the outcome of his trial. He appears to believe that he’s been vindicated of the charges that he drugged and then sexually assaulted a woman who, at the time, looked up to the then-highly regarded comedian, who was on the board of trustees and was a huge supporter of Temple University, where she worked.
But that’s not what a mistrial denotes. It simply means the jury couldn’t reach a conclusion on the three criminal charges that Cosby faced. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania vow they will retry him.
So it’s puzzling that Cosby would embark on a series of town hall meetings to educate youths on how to avoid being accused of a sex crime.
It’s difficult to imagine what Cosby’s advice will be, but it likely won’t include these precepts: Don’t drug women without their knowledge. Don’t use alcohol to ply them into submission and render them unable to consent. And don’t bet that a statute of limitations will protect you from the criminal consequences of such devious actions.
In announcing the tour, his publicists indicated that he’ll be playing the victim role.
“People need to be educated on a brush against the shoulder,” said Ebonee Benson, a representative for Cosby’s wife, Camille. “Anything at this point can be considered sexual assault.”
From the mindset Cosby has displayed for decades now, this isn’t out of character at all. Recall that before another comedian reignited the longstanding accusations against Cosby in a monologue, the former Dr. Huxtable was hawking a similar version of himself as an arbiter of sage advice. Back then, Cosby’s shtick was to hammer a condescending message about black pathology. White audiences loved it.
Here was an icon of the 1970s, an African-American man who had made his fortune off laughs, shaking of his finger at all sorts of behavior that people like to believe occurs more in urban communities than in others.
He raged against black parents, especially black fathers who were fathers only by virtue of contributing their DNA to children. He lectured that personal responsibility was a larger factor in the standing of minority communities than injustices such as racism.
His most often-quoted rant came in 2004 before an African-American audience at an NAACP awards ceremony.
“We are not Africans,” Cosby said. “Those people are not Africans; they don’t know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail.”
It’s a cheap trick, one that prominent African-American or Latino writers and speakers adopt when they want to garner kudos for chastising their own race, usually to please a broader white audience. They can dupe people outside of their own race into believing this is unusual. Rest assured, blacks and Latinos consistently, honestly and astutely talk about problems within their communities, including criminals, gangster mindsets and people who seem stubbornly unwilling to help themselves.
Cosby is clearly longing for the days when he commanded rapt audiences, to regain this stature as a respected speaker of sage advice. He’s a man who’s been thrown off his pedestal, who has lost public adulation and wealth by the accusations of dozens of women.
Cosby is free on bail. He still will likely face the three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly giving pills to Andrea Constand and then sexually assaulting her. Her allegations mirror those of dozens of other women who have come forward in recent years.
Most damning, the storyline falls into a pattern that Cosby has copped to in a deposition in which he admitted buying drugs that he planned to give to women he wished to have sex with. Never mind that they might not have wanted him to touch them. And, as in the case of Constand, that they gullibly might believe that the little blue pill Cosby offered was something an innocuous as Benadryl.
Whatever wisdom Cosby may confer on his town hall tour — if it ever happens — the irony is that there are some hard lessons he needs to learn. Times have changed. Your fame, your money will only cover illicit deeds for so long.
Bill Cosby has escaped round one of this criminal case. But as he gears up to preen before the public, he better get ready to hear a verdict from the court of public opinion. He’s not going to like it.