I was born and raised in the modern world. In the 20th Century, before the panopticon of the NSA and global social media, we used to not know a great deal about people we didn't actually talk to. We simply assumed that they might very well be 'decent God fearing people', meaning that they dealt with temptation to immorality and sin with some seriousness.
We judged people back then. Each of us. We didn't say 'who am I to judge' and then wait for some university study, or big data algorithm, or special session of Congress or Office for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment to do the judging for us. Back then, our own individual opinion mattered, so we worked on them and didn't just toss around accusations willy-nilly. That's because the accusations were our own, gotten by our own eyes and our own deductive skills. They were about people we knew, people who mattered to us, people whose actions directly affected our lives.
Today, we listen intently, (I use the term 'we' quite loosely, because most of the time, I don't give a rat's) to what various media outlets have to say about people we've watched perform over various media outlets. And sometimes we take all of that a bit too seriously, but that's how the post-modern world works.
I've had exactly two heroes in my life, my father and Batman. By the time I was 11 years old I understood good and well that neither of them were coming to my rescue. I didn't have a particularly rough childhood, but I did have one in which I came to grips early on with my own responsibility for my fate in all matters, even the disposition of my eternal soul. It was *me* that had to decide on whether or not to make Jesus my personal savior. It was *me* who decided whether or not I was going to punch Diana White in the face. It was *me* who had to decide how much of my allowance I was going to save or spend. I built my character from lessons presented to me in real life.
After all that I decided to be some kind of scientist. I realized that you don't judge scientists by their ability to play football, just the same way you don't judge stock car racers by their ability to articulate emotions. The modern world I lived in worked because you let teachers teach children. You let gardeners tend gardens. You judged them by the quality of their work by what they decided to do for their living.
Bill Cosby is not Batman. He never was. He never even came close to Bruce Lee.
So how do we judge Cosby? I'm talking about Bill Cosby because my friend JCP found something of a hero in Cos, a man he knew personally. Listening to my friend's judgment affects me. While I found Cosby's book Fatherhood to be as amusing as the rest of the nation back in the 80s, I never had to look up to him as a father, nor as a professional. It's important that I consider the judgment of somebody who did. For me, Cosby was just another person out there who, like millions of other black Americans, defied the ghetto stereotype and exemplified a class of Americans relatively unknown at the time. He stepped into the shoes once placed at the feet of Sidney Poitier, although we knew then as we know now that Sidney was a classier dude. I've had various dogs in the fights over black class, specifically that about class identity over racial identity. In that regard, I've found reasons to agree with things I've heard that Cosby has said. But it's not like he's the only one with those ideas, he's just the only one major media pay attention to.
Cosby's fall from grace is a middle class morality tale whose application is limited. It is impossible for me to believe that Cosby was not a rock star. From my perspective, the moral bandwidth of the ethics of Hollywood & entertainment stardom is rather narrow. To be specific, nobody wants to talk about how many other media stars are maintained in fictional relationships in order to sustain a window of social credibility. In other words, how many gay leading men kiss leading women in movies for box office reasons. In other words, how many drugs are financed by record labels for rock bands. In other words, how many pathological behaviors are overlooked and suppressed by sports teams.
If more people were living in the modern world, rather than the post-modern world, such characters as Cosby would not become general purpose heroes. They would be actors. They would be musicians. They would be comics. And if some part of their lives were obtusely faulty, we could perhaps overlook their failures. That is, if they weren't crimes. But many of us are living in a post-modern world in which the symbolic greatness of individuals become industries in and of themselves. One's job is not just a job at a company, the company becomes 'family', the job becomes a 'mission', dedication becomes 'a passion'. In the post-modern world, you can buy shoes and it means you are 'relieving hunger in Africa'. You can buy a car and you are 'saving the planet'. For Cosby it meant you could write a book on fatherhood and become 'America's Dad'.
This is where Cypher offers Neo a drink and says:
Jesus what a mind-job.
So you're here to save the world.
I think we live in an atmosphere where the post-modern eclipses the modern, and it will be to devastating effect. When crime becomes something other than what the law says, but what media can convince us that it is. In my modern world, if Cosby is accused of a crime, then he is tried in court. And if for any reason evidence is insufficient to support the charge, then the suspect walks. Suspects walk every day. We don't want the law to be as panoptic as society. We don't want children ratting out their parents' thoughtcrimes. We don't want to criminalize offense, especially these days in which post-modern thinkers find so much of life to be offensive, even their faulty interpretations of history effects the way they see people they are only dimly aware of because the internet says so.
Cosby was not sent here to save the world, but to entertain. I judge him as an entertainer, and I hope that which doesn't stand legal muster will not have him judged an outlaw. What must be said in all of this is that those accusers who failed to judge him at the time suffer doubly for their faith in the post-modern world that made Cosby more than just an actor. He got away with being a rock star because people believed in heroes, and in the post-modern world, rock stars *are* heroes. Until they aren't. Not ironically for the same shallow reasons.