Cosby is going to prison — the final stage in a precipitous
fall from grace for a once revered actor and comedian, but also
perhaps the first step in holding high-profile men accused of sexual
misconduct accountable in the era of #MeToo.
is time for justice,” Judge
Steven T. O’Neill
said on Tuesday in sentencing Cosby, 81, to three to 10 years in
prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea
then women’s basketball administrator at Temple University, in
regarded as “America’s
as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable in "The Cosby Show," Cosby left
court a convicted sex offender and “sexually violent predator,”
as deemed by the judge.
conviction and sentence are “major ground gains in the
territorial battle that is the MeToo struggle," said Donnell
a Los Angeles-based writer who focuses on culture and race.
Cosby's downfall itself has wider meaning within the national
movement against sexual assault and harassment, Alexander said,
especially given what is going on with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the
Supreme Court nominee facing several allegations of sexual misconduct
as a teenager.
sentence plays as a blow against big-picture respectability
politics," Alexander said.
contributes to the discrediting of cultural conservatives whose
hypocrisy is bottomless? That’s great for American culture in
the long term,” he said. “We’re in the final years
of there being expectation that powerful old guys get carte blanche
with women, and Cosby’s conviction announces that the old days
are over like nothing prior.”
seeing “an interesting interplay of gender and race dynamics in
the Bill Cosby case,” Vinay
an associate professor at Savannah Law School and a visiting
at Drake University Law School, rejects the notion that Cosby is the
face of the #MeToo movement.
women who are survivors of Bill Cosby's sexual assaults should be our
foremost concern here, in terms of both justice and healing," he
said. "If anyone should be the ‘face’ of the #MeToo
movement, I think it should be the survivors of sexual assault. I
frame the movement in a positive light here.”
aspect of the case's racial dynamic was the reputation Cosby built in
the black community as a philanthropist,
which helped to solidify his public image. For example, he and his
wife, Camille, donated $20 million to Atlanta’s Spelman College
in 1988, which at the time was the largest contribution ever to a
historically black college or university. Spelman and other
beneficiaries of Cosby’s largesse have since distanced
themselves from Cosby and his funding. (Cosby also resigned from the
board of trustees of Temple,
his alma mater, and the university rescinded his honorary
Cosby cultivated a squeaky-clean image and father figure persona on
television, he also drew the ire of some African-Americans for
talking down to the black community, particularly those in poverty.
His infamous 2004 speech to the NAACP, known as the “pound
may have been his undoing, if not his comeuppance in the eyes of some
getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then
we all run out and are outraged, ‘The cops shouldn’t have
shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in
his hand?” Cosby said. “Ladies and gentlemen, in our
cities and public schools we have 50 percent drop out. In our own
neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person
embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. No
longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away
from being the father of the unmarried child.”
a federal judge decided to unseal court documents in which Cosby
admitted he had drugged a woman with whom he wanted to have sex, he
referred to Cosby’s speech.
Eduardo Robreno, in a 2015 court memorandum, found that Cosby had
"voluntarily narrowed the zone of privacy that he is entitled to
claim" because he had “donned the mantle of public
moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to
volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family
life, education, and crime."
"pound cake" speech didn't sit well either with Anthea
an associate professor of religious and Africana studies at the
University of Pennsylvania, which rescinded Cosby's honorary degree
Cosby was abusing and raping women while telling African-Americans to
pull their pants up. Perhaps he should have kept his pants up as
well,” she said. "His fall is a reminder that
respectability politics do not make a person moral."
resists the urge to say black people did not support Cosby because of
the "pound cake" speech and because he blamed black
communities for racial inequality.
may lead some people to say that he got what he deserved,"
Harpalani said. "But I think that, by and large, black people
rejected Bill Cosby because the evidence against him was so strong,
and because the women's stories were numerous and credible,” he
said, adding that black people will not simply act in racial
solidarity regardless of facts.
history of black men being lynched for even suspicion of raping white
women, or even seeming interested in white women, is too long and
salient to ignore," Harpalani said.
Cosby was immediately taken to prison after his sentencing on
Tuesday, other powerful men accused of sexual crimes, like Harvey
Weinstein, have not yet faced their accusers in court.
the fall of Bill Cosby is still instructive in the era of #MeToo and
#WhyIdidntReport, as more women come forward with their stories of
abuse, and struggle to be heard and believed.
the fact that Camille Cosby continues to stand by her man is also an
indictment of the peculiar ways that women will side with abusers
before other women,” Butler said.
commentary was originally published by NBCNews.com