It seems leaving one’s wife alone in a room with Bill Cosby is just as risky as sending one’s kids to a sleep away camp with Michael Jackson. It is almost as terrifying as leaving the law in the hands of a George H.W. Bush appointee.
The only reason that we know Cosby admitted to procuring Quaaludes, a now-banned prescription drug, for the purpose of having sex with young woman is because Pennsylvania District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno overturned a previous judge’s ruling that sealed the files. Robreno did not break the seal as a public warning to American women that a sexual predator was in their midst. He broke it because he didn’t like a speech Cosby gave blaming family and community breakdown for increased criminality and crass culture among black Americans.
“The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter as to which the AP — and by extension the public — has a significant interest,” the judge said.
“Stark contrast” is the operative phrase here. Cosby procured Quaaludes for the same reason that everyone in the 70s procured Quaaludes—one of the reasons the prescription drug is now illegal, although I know a few aging hippies who have some stashed away in safe-deposit boxes to spice things up. The judge gives the impression that if Theo Huxtable had kept his trap shut or merely went with the conventional wisdom that cis white male privilege is responsible for the deterioration of the black community, he would have left the deposition private.
The Only Sin Is Believing In Sin
The Washington Post celebrated the means by which the judge unleashed the testimony, which reinforce the allegations against Cosby by more than two dozen women.
It was a stunning — and deeply ironic — chapter in the story of one of the more enduring and controversial utterances in the past 15 years by an African American about African Americans. And its reappearance in a legal matter so potentially detrimental to Cosby, who has decried the allegations against him as baseless, may also go down in history as a case study in the costs of hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy has become a mortal sin in American life even as we’ve abandoned the concept of sin itself. Be proud and forthright of your moral shortcomings—drug use, drinking, promiscuity, gambling—(I’ll go ahead and admit I’m guilty of all four before a court gets ahold of the information)—and our judgment-free press will revel along with you. If you condemn any sin or affirm any virtue that you fall short of, you will open yourself up to the charge of hypocrisy.
Revealing hypocrisy has become the ideal of the American press. Liberals use this to their advantage—they don’t have any moral scruples and thus can never be guilty of hypocrisy.
The Press Is as Hypocritical as Its Targets
A lover operated a brothel out of former congressman Barney Frank’s Washington, D.C. residence, and he remained in office for three more decades. Even after the story broke, editorial boards issued no clarion calls for his resignation. Not so the revelation that Jack Ryan, a millionaire philanthropist and the Republican standing between Barack Obama and a Senate seat, attempted to have sex with his ex-wife in a shady club. It ended his career.
Ryan’s downfall came after The Chicago Tribune, no doubt tipped off by its former reporter David Axelrod, fought tooth and nail to have his divorce records unsealed. As unfair as the ruling was to Ryan, at least he was a public figure seeking office. Judge Robreno’s reasoning for unsealing Cosby’s records leaves all believers vulnerable.
One need not have the stage, audience, and influence of Bill Cosby to run afoul the whims of the Judge Robrenos of the world. The age of social media gives everyone a platform to publicly proclaim his or her values. This gives judges plenty of leeway to declare anyone espousing an opinion a “public moralist.”
Sometimes regulators don’t even need public statements to punish those who refuse to get on board with the new order. An Oregon regulatory judge placed a gag order on the Christian proprietors of a local bakery who refused to participate in a gay wedding. The official barred them from bearing witness to their faith or legal dilemma. It doesn’t tax the imagination to picture what the newspaper leaks would have been like if this official had a tawdry court filing at his disposal. The message is clear: Believers and people who hold beliefs that differ from those of the Supreme Court or right-thinking members of society should think twice before stating them publicly.
One of Cosby’s main points in the speech that landed him in so much trouble is the lack of community oversight and connectivity in black neighborhoods.
“In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on,” Cosby said. “In the old days, you couldn’t hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye.”
Robreno has made clear that we can no longer play hooky from modernism, because every court, commenter, and regulator is an eye. This one won’t blink in its quest to silence dissent.