There's no denying, Bill Cosby was a delight for millions of Americans spanning many decades. From The Cosby Show to Fat Albert, he had a charm and lovability that no one could match. For many in middle America, it was his ability to make families laugh without being vulgar or crude that drew admiration. Like many others, the Actors/Comedians Kevin James and Adam Sandler both started their careers working with Bill Cosby. Sandler recalled that the best piece of advice he received as a young comedian from Cosby was to "keep it clean" and to avoid cursing, something that Sandler could have taken to heart a little more. Even so, that dedication to wholesome family entertainment turned into a legacy, a legacy that's crumbling.
While Cosby's onscreen presence has been more virtuous and lighthearted, his personal choices, specifically with women, has been put under the spotlight. More than 25 women have publicly accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault over the last four decades. The comedian has vehemently denied the allegations and many have supported Cosby, claiming that the accusers are merely slandering his good name. Former cast members and other celebrities also stood up for Cosby. Phylicia Rashad who portrayed Cosby's wife on the hit show stated, "What you're seeing is the destruction of a legacy, and I think it's orchestrated. ... Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV."
Everyone's tone changed when a sworn deposition of a lawsuit dating back to 2005 was publicly released. In it, Bill Cosby admitted to purchasing drugs for the purpose of getting women to have sex with him. Not long after, Cosby lost his supporters.
This week, Disney World Resort decided to remove the statue of Bill Cosby at its park. In this motion, something became apparent that can't be ignored anymore. It's not enough to speak about family or moral values, you have to live it. The abuse that women and children receive in the entertainment industry cannot be tolerated, and if a celebrity's legacy is destroyed as a result of his or her actions, so be it. If investigated, and if found guilty, those actions must have consequences. This is true no matter how famous or how powerful they are. Whether it be a pastor, politician, filmmaker or anyone else for that matter, the outcry of such evil actions should never be muffled because of the accused individuals political or religious beliefs which may happen to align with our own. Evil is still evil no matter who does it.
However, it's important to note two things regarding the swift punishment of such actions:
1. Due process must be allowed to happen, and individuals should not be slandered if there is no actual proof of wrongdoing. No one wants to live in a lawless world where one false accusation destroys a good reputation, and sadly, with the entrance of social media, these character assassinations happen quite often.
2. While also seeking social justice, pray for the spiritual repentance and reconciliation of those who have committed the said evil acts, and never put feeble men and women on moral pedestals. Christ is the only standard of moral perfection, and since we can never achieve that, our only job is to point other people to Him. Only God can heal the heart, forgive the sin and redeem the sinner.
If even half of the accusations made against Bill Cosby are true, he didn't just make a mistake, he chose to live a lifestyle that abused women. While The Cosby Show may be able to survive in some homes, ultimately, Bill Cosby's legacy must, and will crumble, and because of that, I am extremely hopeful.
We live in a culture that celebrates perversion in music, television and movies, the fact that society still has a disgust for these type of actions means we haven't completely fallen into immoral oblivion as a country. A hypocritical society that hates some evil is preferable to an ideologically consistent one that embraces all evil.
Grace and justice are tricky concepts to balance, but the abuse that women and children face cannot be ignored when these discussions of celebrity wrongdoing turn into political battlegrounds. We must protect the innocent at all cost, and if The Cosby Show never plays on a network again as a consequence, so be it. Let's be the generation that hates evil, embraces repentance, celebrates justice and exudes grace.
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