• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Deconstructing the Bill Cosby Rape Narrative

Whether or not the Bill Cosby rape allegations are true, there has been a disturbing lack of investigative reporting within the gleeful media frenzy. The public has been bombarded with lewd, attention-getting headlines like, “Cosby Forced My Hand on His Genitals” that have clearly shaped this story in a certain light. It seems that anyone raising questions is considered to be politically incorrect or a denialist. While a national discussion about supporting rape victims is long overdue, those who believe in due process also have a responsibility to resist condemning Cosby without a fair trial – even if only in the court of public opinion.

The only person to raise questions about the resurfaced rape allegations within either the mainstream or alternative media has been controversial radio host Alex Jones, who many associate with the lunatic fringe, but in this case seemed to hit the nail on the head, “Everything in this country is about power….Bill Cosby is being politically assassinated right now. And he may be guilty….It’s the fact that the media is jumping on this and piling on him….When they want to cover up for somebody, they cover up….And Bill Cosby has criticized gang thug culture… He’s come out and criticized Obama….And so he’s not with the program folks. So bye-bye Bill.

Comedian Hannibal Buress who catapulted this story into the national spotlight through his comedy routine is one of many whom Cosby angered through criticisms of the African American community. Buress lambasted Cosby in his act saying, “Bill Cosby has the f*ckin smuggest, old black man public persona that I hate….’Pull your pants up black people. I was on TV in the 80s. I can talk down to you cause I had a successful sitcom….I don’t curse on stage.’ Well yah, you’re a rapist so…….” Buress went beyond satire by urging audience members to google the Cosby rape accusations.

Despite being so intent on bringing the story to light, Buress is refusing interviews about the Cosby fallout. His only public statement about the issue was through an interview with Howard Stern in which he denied having any intent to bring the story into the public discourse, “I’ve been doing the bit on and off for six months. It was unexpected. It wasn’t my intention to make it part of a big discussion….So for someone to put it to the media, it’s crazy.”

Female hip hop artist MC Lyte has questioned Buress’s motives, “Was he just trying to enlighten us? Because there’s a lot of things that people can point out in terms of ‘illegal activity’, so for him to point this out – and he drove it home. Like he wasn’t lettin it go. And people weren’t laughing. And he kept drillin it, like, you guys are gonna understand this by the end of the day, really what we’re facing. So it just makes me want to look a little deeper.”

Buress isn’t the only one with an ax to grind. Professor Michael Eric Dyson has been another ardent critic of Bill Cosby. Dyson wrote a scathing book entitled, “Holler if You Hear Me, Is Bill Cosby Right?”, deconstructing Cosby’s now infamous “Pound Cake speech” at the 2004 NAACP awards in which Cosby lectured the African American community on their lack of parenting, poor academic performance, and criminal behavior. Dyson asserts that the retaliation now is coming from Cosby’s treatment of the African American community,  “I challenged him on the fact that he was going around the country giving moral lessons of condescending elements to young African American people and they were nasty and vicious….He’s throwing rocks and he’s living in a glass house. So that contradiction will always get you sunk.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Cosby has shaken up the old boys network in ways that have rarely been done by other African American men. The Cosby Show ran for 8 seasons and was #1 in the Nielson ratings for 5 consecutive years, causing a rating resurgence in the flailing NBC network. The show’s portrayal of an upper middle-class African American family changed the way the world viewed blacks and black culture. People like Oprah have recognized that this shift in perception played an instrumental role in the election of our first African American president.

When The Cosby Show ended in 1992, Cosby further pushed the envelope by attempting to buy NBC from General Electric with other investors. He would have been the first African American man to own a significant share of one of the big three networks. There had been a backlash after “The Cosby Show”, as noted by actress Felisha Rashad, who has said that when the show ended the industry was determined to present the antithesis of it in everything that they did. Cosby wanted to change all of that. He made no secret about his desire to create more diverse, quality programs promoting family values. Despite several attempts to buy the network, G.E. refused to sell.

The post-Cosby Show deficit of well-to-do African American family shows has continued to this day. Cosby was just about to launch a new sitcom about a multi-generational African American family along with a revamping of the Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids animated series in an attempt to continue shaping cultural views about African Americans in a more positive light. The shows would have come on the heels of Obama’s second term and a particularly hostile environment in certain conservative quarters towards black men in power. The consequence of the Cosby media frenzy has led to a cancellation of both projects. While the timing of the resurfaced allegations may be sheer coincidence, it certainly raises questions.

Despite what factors may have contributed to the escalation of the story onto the world stage, the race card is undoubtedly playing a role in its portrayal by the media and public response. There is a clear discrepancy in how Cosby is being treated compared to prominent white men faced with similar allegations like Bill Clinton. When Woody Allen was accused of child molestation, his movies weren’t pulled from the shelves; after Sean Penn was arrested for assaulting Madonna, he went on to win 2 Academy Awards; and despite Charlie Sheen’s extensive history of domestic violence, he was rewarded by becoming the highest paid actor in television in 2010. Whoopi Goldberg has been one of the only high profile public figures to defend the need to reserve judgment and raise questions about the accusations.

As the press continues to demonize Cosby in the coming weeks, perpetuating the stereotype of the “black sexual predator“, we need to step back from the media hype to insist on balanced reporting. Then we need to have a multifaceted conversation about Cosby in which we look at  these allegations within the larger context of a culture that condones rape. While Playboy mansion frequenter Bill Maher points his finger at the way Muslims treat women and TIME magazine asserts that the word, “feminist” should be banned, a woman is raped every 2 minutes in the United States. Meanwhile, rampant sexual abuse in Hollywood has been reported by actors like Corey Feldman who has said that, “The number one problem in Hollywood was, and is, and always will be pedophilia”.

Although the “guilty until proven innocent” stance may be unavoidable given the number of women who have come forward, there’s too many racial and political factors surrounding Cosby not to raise questions. And even if the Cosby rape allegations are true, we must recognize that he is part of a systemic problem. The Cosby rape narrative should be seen as a metaphor for our culture rather than just another isolated “saint” fallen from grace.

Jessica Bernstein, Psy.D., is a doctor of psychology who advocates for healthcare reform.

More articles by:
May 28, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War on Arms Control and Disarmament
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Virtues of Not Eating Animals
Jeffrey St. Clair
Last Stand in the Big Woods
Jack Rasmus
Two Fictions of Mainstream Economics
Louisa Willcox
“What Are We Fighting About?” 9th Circuit Hears Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting Case
Danny Sjursen
The Future of Forever War, American-Style
Steven Salaita
To Students and Teachers Targeted by the Israel Lobby
David Rosen
Silence=Death: Larry Kramer, RIP
Dean Baker
Restaurants in the Pandemic
Martin Billheimer
There is No Vacation Anymore
Jesse Jackson
It’s Time for Bold Responses to a Stark Crisis
Deborah Toler
Is Stacey Abrams Progressive?
Binoy Kampmark
Budget Cockups in the Time of Coronavirus
May 27, 2020
Ipek S. Burnett
The Irony of American Freedom 
Paul Street
Life in Hell: Online Teaching
Vijay Prashad
Why Iran’s Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Are Sending Shudders Through Washington
Lawrence Davidson
National Values: Reality or Propaganda?
Ramzy Baroud
Why Does Israel Celebrate Its Terrorists: Ben Uliel and the Murder of the Dawabsheh Family
Sam Pizzigati
The Inefficient and Incredibly Lucrative Coronavirus Vaccine Race
Mark Ashwill
Vietnam Criticized for Its First-Round Victory Over COVID-19
David Rovics
A Note from the Ministry of Staple Guns
Binoy Kampmark
One Rule for Me and Another for Everyone Else: The Cummings Coronavirus Factor
Nino Pagliccia
Canada’s Seat at the UN Security Council May be Coveted But is Far From a Sure Bet
Erik Molvar
Should Federal Public Lands be Prioritized for Renewable Energy Development?
R. G. Davis
Fascism: Is it Too Extreme a Label?
Gene Glickman
A Comradely Letter: What’s a Progressive to Do?
Jonathan Power
The Attacks on China Must Stop
John Kendall Hawkins
The Asian Pivot
May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail