A jury of his peers found Bill Cosby guilty on three counts: aggravated indecent assault, drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. While each crime carries a maximum of 10 years, Cosby could be sent to prison for 22 to 36 months for each, according to revised guidelines.
Whether Cosby spends five or 30 years in prison, his legacy is tarnished forever. Cosby was a great comic, and there’s no way to avoid the fact he paved the way for many current black comedians.
But his career is dead.
In failing health, Cosby will never and should never star in another TV show. A convicted sexual assaulter, he has been accused by at least 60 women, including multiple counts of rape and drugging.
As the first convicted man since the #MeToo movement began, Cosby’s sentencing marks the beginning of the end of the 21st century’s women’s rights movement. So, while we can condemn Cosby to an eternal state of guilt, what about the other men of the #MeToo movement?
Kevin Spacey clearly cannot and should not make a comeback. He was a closeted gay man who allegedly made a sexual advance on Anthony Rapp when he was 14 years old. And as reported by CNN, “House of Cards” production staff members came out with their experiences of sexual harassment committed by Spacey.
But what about the men who are seemingly less tarnished by the movement? Page Six, the source for all your celebrity nonsense gossip, reported that Matt Lauer is “testing the waters for a public comeback.” There are also rumors circulating that Charlie Rose might host a confessional talk show on the men in the #MeToo movement. That begs the questions: Who deserves redemption and who should decide if anyone does?
Redemption is not something to be given, but earned. Apologizing for past mistakes is a step toward redemption, but is still far from the finish line. Men who abused their power apologize not because they feel guilty, but because they were made to feel guilty. How many of these men came forward before a woman accused them? Not one that I can recall. If Louis C.K. truly felt bad for masturbating in front of female subordinates and coworkers, then he would’ve apologized to them beforehand. I doubt it’s something he forgot about.
There are some men worthy of redemption. Former Senator Al Franken is an example. Even though he certainly abused his position by sexually objectifying women, he clearly does not meet the same criteria as Mario Batali. Franken’s political career should not be dead because of some inappropriate actions. While his 2020 presidential bid is clearly dead, I would not admonish him for seeking the Minnesotan governorship or some other role someday.
Yet there are many individuals who are beyond redemption. I will never view a Lauer program. If NBC brought him back, I might even stop watching the network. And despite my love for his comedy, I will never watch a Louis C.K. comedy special again.
The words of Anthony Bourdain speaking about Batali are the truest on this subject:
“Retire and count yourself lucky,” he said. “I say that without malice, or without much malice. I am not forgiving. I can’t get past it. I just cannot and that’s me, someone who really admired him and thought the world of him.”
Redemption is not something any one of us can decide to give. It’s a collective affirmation that a person’s actions are worthy of not only forgiveness but also moving forward from them. Some of the #MeToo men should not be forgiven, some should be, and only a few can be redeemed. It’s up to us to decide sooner or later.