Monday, November 17, 2014

Who is Bill Cosby?

I grew up watching Bill Cosby on television. I grew up laughing at his jokes and stories. He was a family man. He was an intelligent man. He was a role model. He was funny. But, no one is laughing any more. Another woman came forward today, number 14 I think, with rape allegations. This isn’t doesn’t fit with the Bill Cosby I knew and loved.

Who is the Bill Cosby I know? About 30 years ago, 1986 to be exact, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. The news coincided with my brothers birthday. My husband and I decided to get three tickets to Cosby’s one man show on Broadway and take my brother. We had a great time that day. Cosby sat in a chair in the middle of the stage and did some new material and some of his best loved material. The thing that stands out in my mind is his routine about going to the dentist. We had lots of laughs. Fast forward to 1998. I had two daughters, ages 10 and 7. Cosby was auditioning children for a new show, “Kids Say The Darnest Things.” My husband and I took our girls down to try out for the show. There were so many kids there that day. My girls weren’t the most outgoing kids, but they were smart and cute. They weren’t picked, but the whole experience was exciting and a lot of fun. Around that same time, give or take a year, I got four free tickets to a taping of “Cosby,” the show that followed “The Cosby Show” with the Huxtables, which featured Madeline Kahn. We couldn’t bring the kids to the taping because no one under 18 would be admitted, so we asked our friends to join us. The taping took a couple of hours. They shot two different endings to see which one got the most laughs. It was very entertaining and we all enjoyed ourselves. That is the Bill Cosby I know.

One thing I will never forget was the day the news spread that Bill Cosby’s son, Ennis, was shot to death while changing a tire on the highway. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the depth of his sadness of losing his only son in such a senseless act of violence. Bill Cosby was at work when he was informed of his son’s death and went home to comfort his wife, Camille. The media, like a pack of wild wolves, followed him to his home, flashing camera lights in his face and imploring him to make a statement. Standing on the front steps to his door, seconds from going in, they yelled to him, “how do you feel?” With grace and composure, Bill Cosby, still in shock about the devastating news, made a brief statement about his grief before entering his front door. That is the Bill Cosby I know.

I’ve heard Bill Cosby speak out against the ills of society. He blamed parents for the high incarceration of black youth, for their illiteracy and drop out rate. He has spoken at many university commencements. He has no shortage of advice and wisdom for college graduates on what they should do with their lives. He has advice for everything: parenting, marriage, education, declining morality, you name it and Bill Cosby will talk about it. He will talk about everything except these rape allegations that go back 30 to 40 years.

Recently, Hannibal Buress, a comedian, made a joke about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby, during one of his sets in Philadelphia. Here is what he said that ignited a huge controversy:

“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old black man persona that I hate,” Buress said. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the 80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

"I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns," Buress says later. "I've done this bit on stage and people think I'm making it up.... when you leave here, google 'Bill Cosby rape.' That shit has more results than 'Hannibal Buress.'"

Shortly after this incident, Bill Cosby (or more than likely his social media manager) invited everyone on Twitter to make memes of him. The unexpected results were a barrage of Cosby memes all about rape. And now, Cosby is being cancelled from a booked personal appearance on Letterman.

Today the fourteenth woman came forward with rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Fourteen woman have said something. It makes me wonder how many haven’t? I have read a couple of their stories and they were similar. I find it hard to believe that Bill Cosby, a beloved comedian, could be an alleged serial rapist. I knew of one case where a woman said she was the mother of his child and the matter was settled out of court. That’s it. I chalked it up to a case of marital infidelity that resulted in a pregnancy. But apparently there was a story about his being accused of rape in People Magazine many years ago, that I never heard of. I don’t understand it. How could he do the things he is accused of and how did I not hear of it before now? This is not the Bill Cosby I know. So who is Bill Cosby? I just don’t know any more.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Continued Disappointment in the Catholic Church . . .


It’s really, literally a sin that I can never find a “good” story about the Catholic Church. I never hear anything good, for example, about the Church opening up a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, donating money to Doctors Without Borders, helping to end the genocide in Africa, feeding children in Third World countries etc. Maybe they are doing something and it’s not being publicized, but I doubt it.

Yesterday I happened to come across two stories that turned my stomach. The first one had to do with the Vatican speaking out against the assisted “suicide” of 29 year old Brittney Maynard. Brittney, who had everything to live for, was diagnosed with brain cancer and told she had six months to live. She suffered from excruciating pain and seizures and decided she was going to end her life, on her terms, on November 1st. She moved to Oregon with her husband because it is legal to end one’s life there with dignity. That is what Brittany chose to do. She chose to end her suffering and that of her family, She chose to decide when she was going to die and not allow cancer to pick the date for her. She chose to be surrounded by her family and she passed from this world into the next. And then the top “bioethics” people at the Vatican decided to weigh in. They called her actions “reprehensible.” They say her actions were undignified. Instead, she should have lived out her remaining days in agonizing pain while those who loved her watched her suffer. Is this what the Church calls love and compassion? Brittney was dying, it was inevitable. She didn’t choose to get cancer. Why should she let cancer choose her final hour? Why did the Church have to say anything at all? They want to make their position clear that suicide, for any reason, goes against their teachings? So what? The Church itself is responsible for many reprehensible things. You don’t here them denouncing their actions. All I ever hear about from them is damage control and excuses. Brittney had every right to end her own suffering. Oregon gave her the legal means to end her life in her own terms. No one asked The Catholic Church to weigh in on her very personal decision.
Anyone who has witnessed a loved one dying in the throes of pain, from cancer or any other disease, would praise Brittney and be happy she found a way to end her suffering and leave this world peacefully. I watched my father die in pain. I begged the hospice to help him. They told me they were afraid to give him more morphine because it might kill him. My father was pleading to die. Instead of dying peacefully, in his sleep, from morphine, he died in agonizing pain. I would not wish that on anyone.

Moving on to story number two. A pastor of a Catholic Church, Our Lady of Pompeii, in Greenwich Village, Manhattan decided to end it’s decades long lease with Greenwich House’s Senior Center. He told them they would have to leave the premises, causing panic among the members. Although the seniors paid $2,000 a month in rent to the church, Father Walter Tonelotto decided he was able to make more money from renting the space to film crews. The choice was clear. Get the seniors out. (Do you think the Vatican would call this “reprehensible?”) The seniors serve 1,400 meals a week to people in need. The space occupied by seniors is also shared with homeless and handicapped people who hace come to depend on the Senior Center. When a lawyer for the seniors raised their concerns with the Diocese of New York, they were told no such plans were in effect. They spoke to the pastor and he denied asking them to leave. That’s when the lawyer produced a letter from the pastor, to the group, asking them to find another location by June 1st, 2015. There will now be an investigation into the matter. Is this the action of a charitable, compassionate, loving church?

The Church has a very long history of reprehensible acts. Their despicable actions go back in time for centuries. I would love to read a book, or series of books, focusing on that subject. I only know the tip of the iceberg and I am disgusted. I am sick of the hypocrisy. I am sick of them telling followers how they should live their lives and then breaking all the rules to suit themselves. This reminds me of something Cher said when we were in the middle of the Church’s child sex abuse scandal. The Church had the audacity to criticize Cher and Madonna for wearing very large, gold crucifixes. Cher’s response was that the Church should clean out it’s own house before pointing it's finger at others.
I can’t help but wonder when is the Church going to clean out it’s house? When are they going to be the Church they profess to be, the Church they want us to believe they are? I don’t think it will ever happen.