Foolish Question About Bill Cosby, by Mychal Massie

If a homeless, drunken bum lying in a gutter says people shouldn’t drink, is the message diminished because it comes from a homeless, drunken bum?

Judges routinely sentence the guilty to public service. This can include the guilty speaking out against their past illegal behavior. Does this, for example, make the message of participants in the “Scared Straight” youth offender program any less important?

Obviously, the answer to both is a resounding “no.”

So the question that begs for an answer now is why would Bill Cosby’s message about priorities for black families be diminished because someone came out of the woodwork to accuse him of an impropriety?

Despite the fact that investigating district attorney Bruce Castor found “insufficient credible and admissible evidence” to prosecute, will Bill Cosby’s reputation and message be maligned forever?

Before the alleged improprieties, Cosby was already embroiled in controversy because he called things as he saw them. He ruffled feathers by criticizing black families and making demands for more responsibility in the black community.

Some may argue that, among the allegations against Cosby, he did not show enough personal restraint and put himself in harm’s way. But the only certainty in the whole thing is that both sides still disagree about what happened.

There are also those who seem annoyed that Cosby has made them look bad. These people are now piously standing by while it is suggested that Cosby’s messages of restraint, involvement and self-control may lack the proper credibility.

But improprieties, children out of wedlock, riot, mayhem, lies and murder certainly haven’t diminished Jesse Jackson’s or Al Sharpton’s message that it is proper for blacks to blame President Bush and other conservatives for their problems and to dwell on race as a reason for being held down.

How does one compare what Cosby is accused of to Jackson’s admission of fathering a child out of wedlock and possibly using tax-exempt monies donated to his Citizen Education Fund (CEF) to buy a $365,000 California home for his paramour? That’s not mentioning hefty child support and $35,000 in severance pay.

Project 21 member and columnist Deroy Murdock wrote “CEF raised $2,077,219 in 1998 and $9,919,914 in 1999. Meanwhile, it spent on $30,933 and $15,699 in education and research in those years respectively. CEF dedicated just 0.39 percent of its budget to its stated purpose.”

Yet the lecherous mumbler of rambling unintelligible iambics continues to be recognized by the mainstream media.

The Twanna Brawley hoax, the Korean grocer boycott, the riot at Freddie’s Fashion Mart and the death of Yankel Rosenbaum did not prevent Al Sharpton from running for president. Nor did all that ever prevent him from being sought out for his opinions. Nor has it “diminished” his racial heterodoxy.

Yet the media has breathlessly pondered ad nauseum: Will Cosby’s alleged and actual sexual misgivings allow him to continue speaking out? But what about the elephant in the middle of the room of black America that Cosby has been talking about and others refuse to acknowledge?

Black America has a problem, and it is one that will not go away. It had trouble being recognized until people like Bill Cosby put it on the table.

The question that should be asked is not will Bill Cosby’s message continue to be received in light the allegations against him, but rather why hasn’t the media given as much ink and camera time to black conservatives such as the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson and other members of organizations such as Project 21 who have been saying the same thing for years?

It is disgustingly offensive on its face that the mainstream media would bestow integrity and value upon those who preach that which imprisons from pulpits funded by and founded upon immiseration – yet question the moral worthiness of one who offers tangible solutions to the barren wastelands of hopelessness.

Malcolm Moore is a writer for the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.