By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
“For this is an heinous crime: yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.” (Job 31:11)
We have recently become more and more aware of the impact and power of symbols. Symbols have both capability and power. Bill Cosby has been a symbol many times in his life, in many different arenas.
In the ‘60s he was a symbol of a new direction in television when he co-starred in I Spy. He was a symbol of clean comedy when comics began to use vulgarisms as contrivances for laughter; he was a symbol of TV pitchmen moving from being hucksters to being father figures. Cosby would later parlay his image as America’s father into another successful television series, and then become a symbol of righteous indignation at the lack of academic accomplishment of Black teenagers and the even greater lack of proper supervision of their parents. His public moralizing was continuous and cutting.
His beat has gone on. Cosby is now the symbol of a different kind of sexual predator, one that uses fame and drugs and power to sexually victimize women. Sadly, he may well become the most infamous rapist of our time.
What he has devolved into is so tragic on so many different levels for so many different people. First of all, for his wife Camille who has stayed supportive by his side through all the years, now decades of accusations, hearings, and buyouts. For his family in general, particularly his daughter, who made accusations of rape against Mike Tyson, one has to wonder what she thinks when she looks at her father. The impact on Black people can’t be calculated; especially the impact on young Black men, Cosby is the same sort of role model they are already too familiar with. He is just as greedy as any dope dealer, just as destructive as a gang, just as vulturine as any pimp.
Yet we have to wonder what made him do these things, why would anyone who has fame, fortune, and the admiration of the world feel the need to drug and sexually assault women? What was the thrill? What is lacking in him that he was compelled to compromise every moral ethic he sermonized about? Is Cosby depraved in his character or mentally ill in his mind? And who else in his industry knew of these crimes besides Cosby and the victims?
There is not much more to say except this is the kind of country where social forces always seek the complete annihilation of those in disfavor so there will be unrelenting attacks not only on Cosby’s past but his financial future and whatever his purse presently holds at the moment. No doubt Cosby knows that.
Finally, like so many of us, I have always been a Cosby fan. While he is not the man I thought he was, I still have hopes for the redemption of his life. I intend to keep praying for him, his wife and family while praying for those who were victims. We can offer little else. Just think about it.