A rare two post day! Look at me!
One thing I find hilarious is how people will try to apply legal principles to everyday life, usually in the defense of something stupid. Like when people say “I’m just exercising my First Amendment Right!” when they really mean “stop laughing at what I said!”.
I bring this up because I made a joke about Bill Cosby today on Facebook, basically about how I think it’s terrible that he raped women but that I enjoy the fact that it’s evidence for my theory that self-righteous people probably have something awful they’re trying to hide.
And without fail someone came along and said “He’s innocent until proven guilty!”
Yes. In the legal sense, he can’t be sentenced to jail time until someone proves he raped them, and probably nobody ever will because the things he did took place long enough ago that the statute of limitations has run out.
And sure, I suppose I could be sued for libel for not appending my joke with allegedly. If Mr Cosby or someone from his team wants to sue me for that, well fine. This is all a joke! You can’t sue me for joking!
At any rate, the point is, that I’m not going to send him to jail, so I don’t have to prove him guilty in my own mind in order for me to think he’s guilty. That’s for me to decide because the legal system doesn’t reach the inner recesses of my skull. Yet.
The other thing people bring up is- well his reputation might be ruined. Yeah, apparently it is. And a good part of his earning potential, but the man is 70 something and I’m sure he’s not relying on Social Security to pay the bills.
But the broader point is that people in the public eye are faced with an unfair burden- the public can turn on them at any moment if someone makes spurious charges. I’m going to engage in a fairly glib line of questioning here, but here’s goes…
Seriously, so what if the public turns against a famous person for reasons (possibly) beyond their control?
Let’s take this one step at a time. First of all, the so what?
Actually, I don’t have that much to say about it because I don’t care. If Bill Cosby loses his place as America’s Loveable Grouchy Old Man I couldn’t give two shits. Don’t care any more about that than I care about the weather on Mercury. I don’t care and you can’t make me care. So there.
Second, really, so what? Shit, people turn on famous people all the time for no good reason. Do you think it’s fair? Life’s not fucking fair. It’s not like there’s always some great reason why the public started admiring someone in the first place. Half of the celebrities in the world you can look at and think- what on earth are they famous for anyway? If they disappeared tomorrow would you cry? Would you hold a candlelight vigil? No, you wouldn’t. You’d move on with your life, only pausing to think – I wonder what happened to that guy like every ten years.
Finally, and most importantly- I am being serious here- we do not want to set the bar too high for people losing their reputation. Because it’s fucking high enough. Just think about all the terrible things that famous people have gotten away with. Just the other day I was listening to this song:
and thinking- it’s insane that the Beatles could just casually mention wife-beating in a song, with no fear of any repercussions. Now think about people like Jimmy Savile, a man who was able to molest hundreds of children, for decades and died before the truth was widely known because no one wanted to believe his accusers because people liked him. Maybe most importantly, because he knew people wouldn’t believe his accusers, he was worse than he’d have otherwise been. Or someone like Roman Polanski (whose movies I do enjoy, so yeah, I’m a hypocrite) who is a convicted child (as in, convicted in a court of law, i.e. proven guilty) rapist but still works.
The thing is, famous people have lots power to convince people they’re something that they’re not. And that makes them dangerous. I mean, not all famous people are dangerous, obviously, but celebrities can get away with terrible things if they set their mind to it. And when they have wealthy, powerful people protecting them, often the only leverage the public has is to say “we won’t be your fans anymore.” I’m kind of an amoral person myself and I believe in having whatever power I can accrue, and I’m not giving this one up.
So yeah, tough luck Bill Cosby. Court of public opinion made you what you are and now they’re taking it away. Oh well.