Thursday, November 5, 2015

Limitation on Decency

I used to watch “The Cosby Showas part of NBC’s “Must See TV” line-up on Thursday nights. It wasn’t one of those shows I absolutely had to watch, but if I was able to see it then I would watch it. It held the 8pm slot for all eight seasons and was an innocuous look at a upper middle-class family with issues – they just happened to be African American. The show was accessible to everybody, producing ratings and honors that previously hadn’t occurred. It won a bucket load of awards, including the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. The show lived on in syndication from 1997. In 2015, the last television syndicators stopped running the show, though it remains available on Hulu. Events of the last few years are unlikely to have ever been part of the show's premise.

Bill Cosby, the show’s protagonist and namesake, had been a successful comedian and ad pitch man before taking on the role of Clifford Huxtable. After that, he continued to produce and star in television shows. He was a staple on our sets from the 1960s through the 2000s. He was somebody we knew, we felt comfortable with … and dare I say … we trusted.

Wikipedia states: “As of September 30, 2015, Cosby has been accused by at least 54 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery and/or sexual misconduct, with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s. He has denied the allegations and has never been criminally charged. Most of the acts alleged by his accusers fall outside the statutes of limitations for legal proceedings.”

There have been a slew of colleges, universities and other institutions that have withdrawn honorary degrees, awards, etc., based on the rumors. The comedian has refused to address them, stating that he doesn’t respond to “innuendo.”

“President Obama got into the conflict saying “there is no mechanism to revoke Bill Cosby's Medal of Freedom.” He then went on to say that having sex with somebody without their consent is wrong and is rape. The link was unmistakable – the President believes the allegations are true.

But they aren’t. At least, not legally. Nothing’s been proven. 54 people making similar accusations leads one to a very clear conclusion, and that’s why he’s become a pariah and can’t work and his namesake show is off the air. 

Wikipedia explains: “The purpose and effect of statutes of limitations are to protect defendants. There are three reasons for their existence:

     >  A plaintiff with a valid cause of action should pursue it with reasonable diligence.
>   A defendant might have lost evidence to disprove a stale claim.
>   A long-dormant claim has ‘more cruelty than justice’ ”

There’s something suspicious about 54 people not saying anything for decades. Bill Cosby carried no particular role of authority (like a priest or others). Awful, repugnant, and indecent are the actions that Cosby’s accused of. There’s also something wrong about convicting a man without a trial. It seems un-American to this most American of men. Perhaps this proves that there’s a limitation on decency?

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