Thursday, July 9, 2015

Note to Whoopi: Bill Cosby has already slipped "innocence" a Mickey

Whoopi Goldberg's refusal to own up to her mistake on this issue and double-down on her questionable defense of Bill Cosby diminishing innocence (like like those Republicans who refuse to back down from bad ideas because they value stubbornness over rational thinking) reminds of another annoying factor that's been hovering around this scandal and in need of a slight vocabulary alignment: the mindless repetition of "innocent until proven guilty." Now, this is generally a wonderful (and critical) component of our justice system, but a few things need to be considered to put the phrasing into the proper context.

For one we already have plenty of "proof." In addition to the numerous testimony of victims coming forward (which as pointed out previously is a form of evidence) with very similar story's we now have Cosby's own confession (in a court of law, even!) What more "proof" does Whoopi need? Does she need to go into his bedroom and see the act itself with her own eyes? Although somewhat understandable, people like Whoopi are confusing a conviction with guilt. They tend to be related but not always. For instance, the statute of limitations for many of Cosby's accusers has already expired (he's been at it for decades, remember?) For other's we've seen that he simply buys them off. So the unlikelihood of Cosby being convicted and jailed for these crimes is not an indication that we simply ignore the increasing evidence against his profession of innocence. And that's just in a court of law. Imposing that strict guideline on public opinion (which needless to say is not a trial) is particularly silly. The public isn't using irrational, arbitrary reasons for their opinion about Cosby's guilt. It's why prominent Cosby defender Jill Scott had to recant her defense and admit that she was rallying for the wrong side: Cosby's confession confirmed that it was no longer rational to do so, since this is Cosby being convicted by his own words.

Update: Demonstrating that sometimes shaming can be used for the power of good, evidence and good sense has made it's way through the stubbornness of Whoopi's relentless defense of Cosby, and she confesses, that yeah, those accusations may have some merit after all. She even acknowledges a point I made here about the statute of limitation laws factoring into why Cosby is not being found "guilty in a court of law" (Whoopi's main point of contention about the issue.) In fact, to give Whoopi some credit for finally turning away from excusing the inexcusable, I'll cite from the article linked and let her have the word on this:
“I have to say I thought that, yeah, here’s all the information, take his ass to jail,” Goldberg said. “I find out from you [Abrams] that that’s not possible. So I can’t say any more ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ because there’s no way to prove it. We are the only proof that folks have.”
Hello Mary Lou, Update 2 (4-27-2018): Well the good news is that we no longer have to confuse conviction with guilt because now that ol' Bill have been convicted of Cosby-ing at least one woman (out of, like, 60) we can stop misusing tired "innocent before proven guilty" rhetoric and come up with fresh new strawman arguments to rationalize sexually assaulting unconscious women (maybe a piece of false equivalency between a poor black teenager and a man who exploited his "beloved father figure" privilege and imagery to get away with raping his way through every other women without consequence for years perhaps?)

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