Bill Cosby’s sentence isn’t just about politics

Bill Cosby (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

America’s favorite TV dad is now behind bars – a sad ending to the fairytale story of success against all odds in an entertainment industry not known for being historically kind to Black folk.

Bill Cosby, a man much admired and revered for his groundbreaking rise in Hollywood as an actor and then as a creator of one of the most successful television shows in television history (The Cosby Show), was sentenced last week to three to 10 years for the 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand.

The formerly beloved entertainment figure was found guilty earlier this year in one of 60 accusations of sexual assault against women – accusations he did not deny. In fact, Cosby said he gave women drugs (Quaaludes) to render them unconscious and then had sex with them, stating that it was what they did back in the day. However, 2004 isn’t exactly back in the day and copping to a criminal act in such a cavalier manner isn’t exactly bright.

Even if drugging and raping women was standard practice at the Playboy mansion and in Hollywood celebrity circles, that doesn’t mean the behavior doesn’t fit the legal definition of rape.

For example, many college students get “White boy wasted” and then have sex with each other on a regular basis. According to the laws in most states, a person cannot legally consent to sex when intoxicated. While the students may think they’re just being college students, they are in fact engaging in what is legally defined as rape and subject to prosecution if, and when, a person contacts authorities and alleges rape.

When Cosby, the father of four daughters, fails to show empathy or offer remorse for the victims of his actions, then he, and we, should not be surprised when he is labeled a “sexually violent predator,” and remanded to prison following his sentencing hearing.

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Bill Cosby, the sexual predator is the same person as Bill Cosby the actor/producer/philanthropist. 

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While some people’s heads are still spinning over the verdict and sentencing, others have lost their minds. Cue the conspiracy theorists: Cosby was brought down because he was too rich and famous and tried to buy NBC. Cosby was brought down because the victims were White women and you know how America feels about Black men and White women. (Actually, some of the alleged victims were Black women). Cosby was brought down because they had to make an example out of a Black man and reinforce the stereotype of the sexual Black brute.

How about this fact? Bill Cosby was brought down because of Bill Cosby.

He admitted to the crime multiple times. How many people can have over 60 allegations of sexual assault brought against them and remain free? Three to 10 years for a serial rapist is too much time for some folks out here who say the prosecution was hard on him.

Hard on him?

Prosecutors sat on evidence against Cosby for decades. He will only serve three years with good behavior. Cosby should be counting his blessings, not allowing his publicist Andrew Wyatt to conflate the issue by saying he and Brett Kavanaugh are caught up in “a sex war.” Really, Andrew?

Cosby is a pig, at best, and a serial rapist, at worst, and I suspect there are many men who never drugged a woman into unconsciousness to have sex with them without her consent. The idea that someone is doing something to Cosby, who has done plenty to his victims, because he’s “Bill Cosby” is asinine. Cosby and his arrogance put him in jail.

Let’s say this together: Bill Cosby, the sexual predator is the same person as Bill Cosby the actor/producer/philanthropist. Folks need to wrap their minds around that fact. Black folks, especially women, don’t have to support Cosby because he’s Black; behaving like race is the pre-determining factor in his conviction is vile. Race is a factor, which is the case with any Black person involved in the criminal justice system, but it isn’t the only reason Cosby is in prison. He is in prison because he drugged and raped women.

Is it fair that, at the same time folks are persecuting Cosby, some of those same folks are trying to will Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court? No. Should Cosby serve time, even though he is legally blind and 81 years old? Yes. Prisons are full of people battling all kinds of illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, cancer and the like.

For the record, if you’re interested in the possibility of house arrest, then having lavish parties at your estate close to the time when you’re being considered for house arrest is probably not a good idea, which leads me back to Cosby. Bill Cosby is in this mess because of Bill Cosby. He admitted to the crime of which he was accused and is now serving time for it. Period.

The idea that Black folks need to spend their time rallying around and defending yet another sexual predator in the entertainment industry, who in this case is Black, is ridiculous. Forgive me for not feeling sorry for a man who literally had it all (amazing family, illustrious career and immense wealth) and messed it up by victimizing women.

Cosby has left scores of women traumatized due to his creepy and criminal actions and is getting what he deserves – time in prison. He is exactly where he needs to be and should have been more than 30 years ago.

America’s favorite dad, who was a pillar of the Black community, is a convicted rapist who is now behind bars. Deal with it and let the actual victims heal.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is culture and entertainment editor for NNPA/Black Press USA. She is also founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire, an award-winning news blog covering the African Diaspora. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.

2 Comments on “Bill Cosby’s sentence isn’t just about politics”

  1. As a survivor of rape 9at 20 by a stranger & at 35 by a “friend”)—reported the stranger but, NOT the “friend”. I did tell other women about the the “friend” in order to warn them—word got out & my community really came down on me., I really appreciate your sensible response to the Cosby verdict. Too often it seems perpetrators are VALUED MORE & PROTECTED while those they victimize are DE-values, SMEARED & thrown to the wolves. As Brett Kavanaugh is being elevated to the Supreme Court today, your essay gave me some hope that the FUTURE will be different than today.

  2. Bill is Bill, please stop focusing on him. FOCUS on the survivors, that’s where compassion, change is needed most in their lives. Bill will be bill. Victims need us to believe and Investigate. And stop turning blind eyes to boys who are molested, at a high rate and not reported at an even higher rate than females molested.

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