This tweet was posted by Bill Cosby shortly after he left prison and returned to his home. IMHO, never has a bigger piece of BS been posted on the Internet. For those in the audience who are even older than I am, IMHO means, In My Humble Opinion. These acronyms abound in the world of social media but it is becoming more and more important that I remind readers that this blog represents my opinion. This is because now that Chief Justice John Roberts has achieve his lifelong goal of nullifying the Voting Rights Act and eviscerating the Fifteenth Amendment along with it, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas are taking aim at the First and the Sullivan exemption for critics of public figures may not be long for this world. That’s a subject for another day.
Today we have Bill Cosby. I have managed to avoid writing about Cosby for years. But this tweet, posted just hours after the comedian who was put on trial for sexual assault, convicted by a jury, and sentenced to spend 3-10 years in jail was released from prison, was the last straw.
No, William Henry Cosby, Jr., your release has nothing to do with innocence. It does not make you innocent. And your victory dance is both unseemly and unsightly for a man who remains, in my opinion, both a disgrace and a profound disappointment.
A disappointment, because I still remember my first serious date. The year was 1968. I had my new driver’s license. I had convinced my mother to let me borrow her car. I had convinced a very nice high school classmate to join me on this expedition. And she had convinced her father to trust me with his daughter on a Saturday night trip to downtown Chicago for a grownup dinner and then a show.
That show was at the Auditorium Theater, a newly restored nearly four thousand seat turn of the century venue. The performance consisted of Bill Cosby, alone, with a stool, a microphone, and a follow spot. And he had the packed house rolling in the aisles laughing our heads off for 90 intermission free minutes. This was the year Martin Luther King was assassinated. The year Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. The year of riots in many major cities at the height of the Civil Rights movement, the woman’s rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I’m a lot older now but I can’t remember another year like that. It seemed to me as if the country was about to explode. But Cosby brought people together, young and old, black and white, it was an amazingly diverse audience. He told stories we could all relate to. He never used a profane word. It was a great first adult date and I talked about it for years.
But my disappointment with the guy once known to millions as “America’s Dad” is nothing. Cosby’s disgrace comes from the actions of his “other” persona. The persona he kept hidden from me and almost everyone else. For the man once defined by the character of Cliff Huxtable and Jell-O commercials is now defined as the man accused by some sixty woman of sexual assault. I know, it’s my opinion again. But you can’t ignore the accusations from so many, all basically telling the same story of a sexual predator who used drugs to have his way with women who could not defend themselves.
Cosby didn’t deny the events, he maintained they were consensual. He admitted to giving drugs to women in a sworn deposition in a civil lawsuit against him. The Fifth Amendment says you can’t be forced to testify against yourself. To force Cosby’s testimony in that case, the local district attorney promised Cosby would not face a criminal indictment. That district attorney left office and his successors broke the agreement.
Cosby was tried twice on criminal charges. The first criminal court proceeding against him ended in a mistrial, but the second jury concluded Cosby had drugged and assaulted Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004. He is not now and never will be, at he states in his tweet, innocent.
Which is why I most painfully concur with the decision to release Cosby from prison. It is because Cosby does get one thing right in his tweet when he gives “thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.”
The decision runs 79 pages but it boils down to one question. Did prosecutors break an agreement with Cosby? The answer is yes. The deposition testimony from the civil case cannot be used against him in a criminal trial. Justice and the rule of law are two separate matters. In this case, the cause of justice was not served. But the rule of law was upheld.