I've never met him, but I still feel like I know him.
This is something that I am unable to comprehend. Or rather, I don't want to comprehend. I don't want to know it's true, and I definitely don't want to know the details. Why? Because deep down (however illogical it may be) Bill Cosby will always be Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable to me. I see him as a charming and funny father of five, a husband to the beautiful Claire and all-around good guy.
This is the man who sold me Jell-O in the 90s. The man who was able to get young children to say the cutest, most darndest things. The man who could make this hilariously funny face and have me laughing for hours. Bill Cosby, in a way, epitomized my childhood. I grew up watching him (we all did) and in many ways his comedy was my foundation. Perhaps that's why I have such a hard time believing that he could (or would) sexually assault a woman who said no, even though more and more reports are making it harder to deny.
Maybe it's because I was never sexually assaulted. I don't know what it feels like to be a victim, and therefore it is easier for me to ignore the allegations. It's a lot easier to make excuses for this man and avoid his alleged victim's story, because I know him.
Is this right? It's not. I know it's not right at all, and I feel terribly guilty for siding with a man I don't actually know while intentionally ignoring information that could prove that he was, indeed, a sexual predator. I know that I don't know him. Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable is not my doctor (or my dad), but I feel such a strong bond to this fictional character he played who doesn't even exist.
(Yes, I know how ridiculous this all sounds.)
And yet, I still try to avoid the headlines. I still look the other way, as so many others have over the years. I don't want to believe that these awful things could possibly be true about a man who portrayed such a perfect dad on one of our childhood shows. I don't think I am alone in how I feel about this situation. I bet you are avoiding this story too for the very same reasons without even realizing it.
It is time for all of us to stop ignoring the allegations. More victims are speaking to the press. Barbara Bowman, who says that Cosby raped her for years, has shared every detail with MailOnline. Comedian Hannibal Buress recently confessed that Cosby judged others based on how low they wore their pants, but ultimately he is worse because he might be—you guessed it—a rapist. A simple Google search for Bill Cosby will garner news results that are all about his shady past rather than about his legacy as a Hollywood icon.
The ruse is over. Vulture published a timeline of his assaults. In addition to the dark facts, they note that Mark Whitaker completely ignored Cosby's sexual assaults in his new book, Cosby: His Life And Times. He is quoted as saying that he didn't "want to print allegations [he] couldn't confirm independently."
I'm going to guess that he (like me) just didn't want to confirm the claims independently. Because, for all of us, it's just better to go put on our blinders and not believe that someone you once cherished and loved could be capable of such monstrous crimes. It's just easier that way.
And for that, I am sorry.
I am sorry for the victims who were violated. I am sorry for the victims who were silenced. I am sorry for the victims who are still living through the trauma. My only hope is that they find solace in speaking their truths to the media.
But honestly, I'm sorry for Bill Cosby, too. As embarassing as it is to admit, regardless of all the facts, I still feel like it can't be true. There must be some other explanation. There must be a mistake. Making excuses for him in my own head might be the thing I am sorry for the most.