It’s over. I will be a little sadder for the rest of my life. My support of Bill Cosby hasn’t waned; however, I see nothing but futility in any future discussion of what I now believe to be a lynching beyond parallel to the high-tech lynching of which Clarence Thomas spoke. I speak of a group shaming not unlike the fictional representation set forth in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, when girls who found themselves in disfavor to their community chose to turn on one of their own to save their skins:
Abigail: You will not! Begone! Begone, I say!
Danforth: What is it, child? But Abigail, pointing with fear, is now raising up her frightened eyes, her awed face, toward the ceiling – the girls are doing the same – and now Hawthorne, Hale, Putnam, Cheever, Herrick, and Danforth do the same. What’s there? He lowers his eyes from the ceiling, and now he is frightened; there is real tension in his voice. Child! She is transfixed – with all the Girls, she is whimpering open-mouthed, agape at the ceiling. Girls! Why do you – ?
Mercy Lewis, pointing: It’s on the beam! Behind the rafters!
Danforth, looking up: Where!
Abigail: Why – ? She gulps. Why do you come, yellow bird?
Proctor: Where’s a bird? I see no bird!
Abigail, to the ceiling: My face? My face?
Proctor: Mr. Hale –
Danforth: Be quiet!
Proctor, to Hale: Do you see a bird?
Danforth: Be quiet!!
Abigail, to the ceiling, in a genuine conversation with the “bird,” as though trying to talk it out of attacking her: But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face. Envy is a deadly sin, Mary.
Mary Warren, on her feet with a spring, and horrified, pleading: Abby!
Abigail, unperturbed, continuing to the “bird”: Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’s work I do.
Mary Warren: Abby, I’m here!
Proctor, frantically: They’re pretending, Mr. Danforth!
Abigail – now she takes a backward step, as though in fear the bird will swoop down momentarily: Oh, please, Mary! Don’t come down.
Susanna Walcott: Her claws, she’s stretching her claws!
Proctor: Lies, lies.
Abigail, backing further, eyes still fixed above: Mary, please don’t hurt me!
Mary Warren, to Danforth: I’m not hurting her!
Danforth, to Mary Warren: Why does she see this vision?
Mary Warren: She sees nothin’!
Abigail, now staring full front as though hypnotized, and mimicking the exact tone of Mary Warren’s cry: She sees nothin’!
Mary Warren, pleading: Abby, you mustn’t!
Abigail and all the Girls, all transfixed: Abby, you mustn’t!
Mary Warren, to all the Girls: I’m here, I’m here!
Girls: I’m here, I’m here!
Danforth, horrified: Mary Warren! Draw back your spirit out of them!
Mary Warren: Mr. Danforth!
Girls, cutting her off: Mr. Danforth!
Danforth: Have you compacted with the Devil? Have you?
Mary Warren: Never, never!
Girls: Never, never!
Danforth, growing hysterical: Why can they only repeat you?
Proctor: Give me a whip – I’ll stop it!
Mary Warren: They’re sporting. They – !
Girls: They’re sporting!
Mary Warren, turning on them all hysterically and stamping her feet: Abby, stop it!
Girls, stamping their feet: Abby, stop it!
Mary Warren: Stop it!
Girls: Stop it!
Mary Warren, screaming it out at the top of her lungs, and raising her fists: Stop it!!
Girls, raising their fists: Stop it!!
I am speaking less here of the women who accuse Cosby, and speaking far more of the culture that raised me, and many of those who read my words. We are not nearly as far from the witch hunts of old Salem as you may think. The political Left that embraced and fomented feminism is not my concern, either. Having been nurtured as I was in the bosom of the Religious Right, the Left never concerned me very much.
One of the ideas bandied about by social and religious conservatives is that of teaching The Holy Bible in schools. The religious reasons are obvious. As one who is not in favor of formalized education for children, and one who is no longer religious, I cannot say that the absence of The Bible in schools is one of my concerns except for one firm conviction to which I still hold: Failure to understand The Bible is failure to understand America.
Salem was one of the first settlements of the Europeans from whom many of us sprang. These people came from England, where unending religious wars galvanized many men and women into theological beliefs set in stone. These people were Puritans. They came from the same stock as Calvinists, whose doctrine holds, in part and in profane terms, to the idea that Heaven is a type of lottery for ordinary men, with the saved already known by God. The desire for purity of doctrine led quite naturally to purity in all forms: a life of simple means, a toning down of celebrations, a reduction or elimination of consumption of alcohol, long hours of hard but productive labor, and last but certainly nowhere near least, strict rules governing sexual activity; all of this, just in case you were one of the lucky few.
This may be hard to believe in a day and age when Miley Cyrus can jill it on stage in front of thousands of fans, but the scars of this widespread and diverse belief system remain. In fact, Cyrus’s twerks and tits are a direct product, a pendulum swing if you will, of Puritanical thought and practice. She is, after all, following the example of the far more successful, prolific, and long-lasting godmother of sexual rebellion, Madonna, whose life’s work is based on trashing the lessons of Catholicism she has spent her entire career trying to dissolve.
Failure to understand the profound influence of our collective Puritanical and Calvinist roots ill-affects even immigrants from Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim countries. You’ve been philosophically warned, Cheng.
The realization that a man needs to have now, especially after the destruction of a comedy icon, is that sex with a woman can at any time and in numerous ways be directly influenced by the detritus left from the religious persecutions of old. The male reader would do well to remember that early feminists were like Susan B. Anthony, an unmarried woman of highly progressive ideals such as temperance, women’s suffrage, and abolitionism. They were oftentimes products of Northeastern America, the seedbed of the modern Progressive movement. This movement bears a direct link to the Puritanical idea of saving humanity from itself. There would have been no 18th Amendment without Progressives, America’s adorable little schoolmarms.
We forget much of this because World War II ensured that the budding American Empire would be the empire to win the war. A sudden shift from Depression-Era thrift to a Levittown home for every good GI begat the Baby Boomers, who quickly rendered themselves clueless with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Enter Bill Cosby, followed by adoring fans of both sexes, the Playboy Mansion, the advent of Quaaludes, the double life, the public persona of the family man, and the adultery.
It’s that last one that America sees the most, thanks to our collective roots. I know this because my generation is the first big divorce generation. Boomers and their sexual politics, complete with The Pill, pornography, Second Wave feminism, and no-fault divorce, rendered many of my Gen-Ex peers traumatized by dads moving out, and hated stepdads moving in. If you don’t believe me, watch an incomparably beautiful film made largely by British Gen-Exers called Anna Karenina, from the Tolstoy novel. For all our openness to different forms of sexual expression, that’s how many of us feel about adultery, one of the chief causes of divorce.
Few people from my generation are ever going to bother actually reading the transcript that has, I believe, sealed Cosby’s fate. If they did, beyond the brilliant dissection it has already received from Mr. Farley at this website, they would see that it is actually a legal complaint about one of Cosby’s lawyers interrupting too much. Cosby hardly says anything. Most of what is quoted from his deposition consists of dialogue that could have been ripped right out of Adam’s Rib:
- TROIANI [Plaintiff’s attorney, to Cosby]: Can you answer that question?
- O’CONNOR [Cosby’s lawyer]: No. Wait.
- TROIANI: You do not testify, Mr. O’Connor. That’s enough of your testifying.
- O’CONNOR: Young lady.
- TROIANI: Thank you, but no.
- O’CONNOR: What occurred here is Mr. Cosby has already —
- TROIANI: Call me counselor or Ms. Troiani.
- O’CONNOR: Ms. Troiani, he testified already that he —
- TROIANI: Oh —
- O’CONNOR: Let me finish.
- TROIANI: He’s going to testify, you’re going to tell him what to say. I will not let you finish. Do you object to my question?
- O’CONNOR: Yes.
- TROIANI: Fine.
To quote John Calvin: God Almighty. A man sits in a chair with his freedom, his money, his name, his reputation, his marriage, his children’s respect, and his career on the line. I’d want my lawyer to finish, too, even if I thought he was slime. All because she said.
A modern-day woman can go to Spring Break, get drunk, get laid in front of numerous other drunk women who can still stand while they watch and cheer the proceedings, and still cry rape. A black man can take it like a man and go to prison. All because she said.
But this isn’t quite the same, because Cosby was not filmed. This is a cultural father figure, successfully married for decades and lecturing black Americans on getting their own affairs in order, who is cutting Quaaludes in half, getting his penis out, and paying young women to keep things quiet and go to college. If rape did in fact occur, we still don’t have proof. The culture doesn’t need any because the culture does not actually need to believe that Cosby is a rapist.
What we have instead is a hypocrite, and worse, a hypocrite in sexual matters who is also married and male. No amount of colorful sweaters and silly dance moves will hide the fact from a country so zig-zagged in its sexual mores that the actor was merely acting as if Claire Huxtable was the only woman in his bed. The payoffs and hush-ups of numerous affairs, compounded by the recreational use of drugs, will not deflate the hyperactive emotional reaction of the social and religious conservatives that take rather a dim view of such private behavior. In other words, I am convinced that even social and religious conservatives will not bother to change the discourse to anything other than rape.
Such weakness exposed is beneath contempt to these people. Here’s one of the more revolting examples, from a socially and religiously conservative website I used to frequent called World Net Daily, written by the founder Joseph Farah, entitled “Free Clara Harris!” about a woman who murdered her cheating husband. I kid you not:
“But, as a woman spurned once, she was not naive. She checked with a private detective she had hired to watch her husband and learned he was not at the Houston restaurant having dinner with Bridges. Instead, the creep [sic] was at the very hotel at which Clara and David Harris had married on Valentine’s Day 10 years earlier.”
So Clara ran over his body again and again and again with his teenaged daughter in the car. This is the woman Farah praises in his article. This is what we do with adulterous men. After all, men can man up and take it. Men should bear responsibility. It will not matter to such minds that there is still no evidence of rape in the Cosby scandal. There is evidence of penis. Cosby, Harris, and I suppose John Wayne Bobbitt as well, all hold (or in Harris’s case, held) the power to stop rape in their hands whenever they piss (or in Harris’s case, pissed).
Unfortunately, Cosby will lose all but those closest to him, and probably even some of them. He enjoyed sex too much in the wrong way with the wrong people. We know that much from the deposition; and in a culture where millions still want to go after Roman Polanski’s hide, in spite of the fact that he confessed, served his time in jail, and will die a victim of double jeopardy, that’s all that’s necessary. Go ahead and call the lecherous old pervert a rapist. Paying a single one of these women money was the final nail in the coffin of this man’s career.
I no longer believe that the Sexual Revolution liberated men. Thanks to the influence of Puritanical beliefs about male sexual responsibility, compounded by Second and Third Wave feminism, the Sexual Revolution has only liberated women. The same can be said of our precipitous technological advancement, as well as any opening up of our political systems. Men are less liberated by all of these phenomena, because men still have to bear the majority of the weight of empire and civilization on their heftier shoulders.
Women are excused from the dirty work. When they complain about not being included in the dirty work, they are to be admitted. When they grow tired, they are to be excused again. Everyone should remember that even known false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum will be out of prison in mid-life after lying about rape, destroying three men and their families, and fatally stabbing Reginald Daye.
The Left will go on chanting The Vagina Monologues; the Right will go on condemning it. When a man whips it out the wrong way, the Left will cry, “Rape!” and the Right will join right in. To participate in this madness is to be a foolhardy man indeed.
There is no fast and easy sex with the opposite. There really never was. This is all the more reason to disregard the advice of the gaming community and lend a hand in building a little male space of your own.
There is something else going on here. Bill Cosby is not a Boomer. He is part of the last generation to experience what I call the small town. Zoning laws, mass schooling in increasingly large and centralized schools, the promise of suburbia, and entertainment provided by a Mass Media culture put an end to that. The result is that America has lost its sense of privacy.
A Boomer named James Bowman whom I’ve mentioned before writes quite a lot about the phenomenon of honor. As I see it, a woman’s honor has always been about her chastity and her fidelity to one man, probably based on a more instinctual level of awareness that the male provider would like to ensure that the children in his charge are actually his. A man’s honor, on the other hand, has always been about the man.
If this is true, then Cosby’s honor was more of a front, as is often the case. Honor, as Bowman points out, is less about the actual and more about the act. It is therefore amoral, neither objectively good nor evil.
In Puritanical America, therefore, a man’s honor is his word. He either follows through on his word or he has no honor. Cosby followed through on his word only to a certain extent. He got himself educated. He held down a family and helped to raise four children to adulthood. He kept his marriage intact. He encouraged other Americans, especially black Americans, to do the same.
Behind the façade, however, he whipped it out and had fun. He no doubt did so in part to deal with the stress of keeping up appearances, probably extending all the way back to the forties, when his parents and grandparents were heavily segregated in Small Town America. To a mind cultivated to think that honor is equal between the sexes, an unchaste man that acts honorably clean on television programs, during comedy routines, and in interviews is a man whose hypocrisy is unforgivable.
Imagine such an individual giving the interview that would rivet millions to their television screens: Yes, he would say, I had sex with lots of women. I enjoyed it immensely. I desperately hoped that these women would understand the strong desire I have to keep my family and career, so I gave them a little something extra to help them along and wished them well. But what they’re saying happened did not happen in the way that they said it did.
How successful would such an interview be, even if the millions of watchers actually believed him? Whether or not these women are telling the truth about having affairs with Cosby that ended when he drugged them unconscious so he could have sex with them one last time, his privacy and honor are completely destroyed, and a country that shames the likes of Hugh Grant and Eddie Murphy for soliciting street hookers (who betray women’s innate sense of honor in their profession) is simply never ever going to forget nor forgive.
Both men and women can endure public shame over sexual scandal. How many women endure this level of shaming at the expense of their property, liberty, or their own bodies compared to men? The late Robin Williams paid a woman to keep quiet about sex. Perhaps he was a rapist as well.
If you’re as disgusted with the zeitgeist as I am, you can do little else but watch as America reacts with heavily emotional upset every time a penis is seen, and quietly remind yourself as I do on a regular basis that empires cannot exist without first and foremost regulating the men, even as they blame them for anything and everything they can. The more upset your friends and neighbors become, the more the American Empire dies, while the rising Chinese Empire slowly usurps control of the world’s economy. Then you can wonder along with me how the Chinese government will blame the men for how they themselves mismanage human affairs.
I thoroughly enjoyed Cosby’s efforts for decades. I enjoyed his stand-up, his sitcoms, and his public persona. I couldn’t care less about his peccadilloes. I would be sadder still if it were all true, but mindful of the fact that a rape victim, whether male or female, who apparently goes back for more has about as much honor as the perpetrator, and a lot less of my empathy and interest. It’s a sad state of affairs when a man’s affairs are made equal to a crime, but I already knew that was our collective state before this one man was ruined. That will forever make me saddest of all.