In recent months Bill Cosby has been vilified by the media based on accusations made against him by a number of women reporting that he had drugged and raped them. This past week, Cosby’s wife stated that the man she knows is not the man the media is making him out to be. She is standing by her husband in the midst of these accusations.
The media has worked very hard to turn public opinion against Bill Cosby in these matters. However, it seems that this is not always the case.
In 1977, Roman Polanski, a film director, was accused of raping a 13 year-old during a photo shoot. When he was awaiting his final sentencing after accepting a plea bargain, he fled to France. He was arrested again in 2009, but was later released. He has not been back to the United States since 1978. However, a number of Hollywood Actors have come to his defense amidst the charges. He has even had a successful career directing films since he plead guilty to raping a 13-year-old. Notable films have included: The Pianist (2002), he acted in Rush Hour 3 (2007), and The Ghost Writer (2010).
So what is the difference between Polanski and Cosby?
Perhaps it is that Cosby has repeatedly taken a stand for high moral values. He has branded himself as a family man. He has told African Americans that they need to be the change they want to see in this society. And now, he appears to be a charlatan.
Polanski on the other hand never pretended to be this great pillar of virtue. For that matter, neither did Phil Spector who was convicted of murder in 2009, yet people still continue to listen to music he produced and arranged.
In the last two months, two democrats were arrested on charges of rape. The first, a staffer who worked for Joe Lieberman, pleaded guilty and received 5 years of probation. This is not a typical sentencing and the story barely made the news.
The second, was a donor to Obama’s campaign and a member of the President’s National Finance Council. He is the first person the President sees when he flies into Oregon, and he has been on board Air Force One. His name is Terry Bean and his charges are against a minor. This person is also a lawyer who has been working to champion gay rights.
I am not saying Obama knew what this guy was doing or that other champions of gay rights approve of his actions, but again, this story barely even made the news.
Again, I think it has to do with the fact that these men never promised to be champions of virtue. When someone sets himself up to be such, the fall is always harder. I believe this is why the country judges ministers on a stricter basis than they do regular business men.
But what do these stories say about us as a society? What do they say about our moral aptitude? What do they say about Christianity? And what does the Bible say about these stories?
Make no mistake, the Bible is very clear that rape is wrong. But our society has on many occasions tended to punish the victims of abuse. It has also attempted to vilify some and not others seemingly when convenient. It seems that the crime is less horrific if the victimizer knows the right people.
When did doing what was right become a matter of taste?
As Christians, we have a responsibility to stand for the truth. A responsibility to speak for those without a voice. We must also be patient and wait to get the facts before we pick sides. Cosby may be guilty, but he may not be guilty. We don’t know all the facts, and the news certainly does not present them in an unbiased manner.
If Cosby is guilty, he should go to jail. But this should not tarnish his entire career. Certain evil choices we make should not define our entire lives. Polanski was wrong to rape a 13 year old; he was wrong to flee the country, but The Pianist is one of the best films of the last 15 years.
Bean was wrong for raping a 15 year-old boy, but that does not mean he knows nothing of finance.
We need to pray for our country. Pray for its moral compass. Pray for the truth to be heard in the news, on television, and from our pulpits. We need to stand for virtue, and we ourselves need to love virtue and be characterized by it in our lives.
***I would like to thank my friend Adam Jones for bringing to mind the connection of Polanski with the situation regarding Bill Cosby.