THE BUTTON-DOWN MIND OF BOB NEWHART
If you have to start with one album, start with Bill Cosby’s WONDERFULNESS, just hilarious. Now I know it’s popular because of the controversy to demonize Bill Cosby. Here’s my first, last, and best measure on Bill Cosby, it is a line from a Sam Peckinpah movie… “When you side with a man, you stick with him and if you can’t do that, you’re like some kind of animal.”
When I was a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s it was Bill Cosby who defined so many of the opportunities and enjoyment and broke so many of the barriers to pave a way for a young, punk kid like myself and millions of others to dream bigger, aspire better.
From an accomplished college sports figure to a ground breaking televsion actor in the beloved ISpy series to a world acclaimed commedian to a producer of kids’ television shoes (FAT ALBERT!), to a great, classic series of 70s movies, to a really groundbreaking 80s television series,to a civil rights and human rights fighter, and economic fighter…. the accomplishments of Bill Cosby are staggering for any ten people, but that he fit all this into one life… is the stuff of legend. To call him a Renaissance Man is apt.
Is he guilty or innocent of these accusations?… That’s for a court of law to decide rather than this televsion lynching the American Mass Media has been fond of with prominent people of color. This assassination by media is out of proportion, by a generation grown and raised on the tearing down of idols.
Guilty or Innocent, a man’s falling down must be weighed against his standing up. And if many of us presume to not have committed the perceived sins of Bill Cosby, neither have those same rock throwers committed the triumphs and the groundbreaking accolades of a Bill Cosby. We are none of us Saints, and most of us Sinners, but I posit that the good Bill Cosby has done, is larger and grander than the good his detractors have done.
You want to stand in judgment of a man’s evil, then you have to be capable of also judging or equaling his good, and none out there speaking against Bill Cosby have fought as tirelessy as Bill Cosby to make the world better… and Cosby has made the world… for punk kids like myself… better.
I heard the comedian Sinbad, a man who knew and learned from Cosby, state the same, he can not judge on some strangers’ accucations, but only on how Cosby impacted his life. And for Sinbad, and myself, and generations who grew up in a world precipitously devoid of opportunities for people of color, Cosby’s impact is overwhelmingly to the good. Cosby always used his talent and his resources to carve out such opportunities for others.
And now because of suspect accusations, that if true hints at someone who needs counseling over incarceration, all that good is what…. forgotten? Made Moot? You strip him of honorary titles? Really?
Here is the secret to those of you misguided enough to think that way… the price of greatness is sometimes perilous and steep. The soldier we thank for his service is back from blowing off some kids face, the president we applaud… has rained down fire on civilian targets, the sports figure you idolize is an adulterer and flawed father…. none of us are saints, and most of us are sinners, and the best we can hope to do is weigh a man’s good and his bad, and decide which part of that equation touches us the most and be ruled by that.
How you view the soldier with blood on his hands, depends on whether you are close to him or close to those he killed. In an imperfect world it’s the best we can do…side with those who have sided (if only tangentially) with us.
As a young kid turning into a young man, Cosby gave me the gift of laughter, of hope, of options, of the pleasure of seeing TV change into something more representative of the ethnically diverse nation it was supposed to speak to. So I can only judge him based on that, his personal failings beyond that are perhaps for those close to him or affected by them… to be offended by. And if criminally liable for a court to determine, however, where this shouldn’t be played out is in trial by media.
Shame on those schools and organizations quick to pull bestowed honors based on the lip service of media’s mob.
“When you side with a man, you stick with him. And if you can’t do that, you’re like some kind of animal.”
So that ends my rant and stance on Bill Cosby. His albums are still hilarious, and his achievments… still achievements.
Here endeth the lesson.
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