Bill Cosby once said, “A word to the wise ain’t necessary — it’s the stupid oneswho need the advice.”
It’s a great line. Too bad it’s a lie.
The people most in need of advice are the ones who overestimate their own wisdom, the ones who stupidly believe their actions will not have consequences.
And so, Mr. Cosby, some advice:
1. “It’s time to take responsibility.”
Isn’t that the message you delivered to poor families in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2013? Remember all those fireside chats about the importance of personal duty? How many times did you chastise kids in the projects for cussing or wearing droopy pants or not taking an active interest in their own futures?
You were one of those kids, you reminded us. You came from nothing. But through grit and hard work, you created your own destiny. You went from a child who was abandoned by his father to America’s Dad. You lobbed domestic truths about family, marriage, work and aging that were so universal, they skittered across all social divides.
You were beloved.
2. “Those days are over.”
That was a line your character Dr. Huxtable uttered in an episode of The Cosby Show. That was also a theme in some of your books, including Love and Marriage, Fatherhood and Time Flies.
On Tuesday, in the real world, where your world has come crashing down, one more woman came forward with allegations of abuse. Judy Huth has filed a lawsuit claiming you molested her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974. You were 37 at the time. She was 15.
To repeat a line from one of your old standup routines in Vegas, “That’s sick.”
Then on Wednesday, three more women held a news conference in Los Angeles to repeat what more than a dozen women have now said: You’re a monster. You’re a predator. You drugged them. You raped them.
You thought fame was a bulletproof vest. You thought wealth could shield you from the depraved horrors you allegedly inflicted because, in sharp contrast to your sweet books and gentle comedy and lovable TV characters, you do not think women “rule the roost,” “are the smarter sex” or “make the world go ’round.”
Those were just more of your lies.
The truth is, you think of women as objects, fleshy vessels to be used and abused, conscious or unconscious. Equally sick is your inability to grasp the magnitude of the trauma you allegedly unleashed in hotel rooms, green rooms, dressing rooms, mansions, brownstones and rented apartments: you killed women who are still alive.
3. “This won’t go away.”
Remember when you said, “Women don’t want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think — in a deeper voice”?
Well, here is what everyone now thinks, in a deeply troubling voice: “Bill Cosby is vile. Bill Cosby is abhorrent. Bill Cosby has no remorse. Bill Cosby can go to hell.”
I’m reminded of that old comedy bit in which you talk about visiting the eye doctor and getting new glasses. Your stonewalling now is myopic. Your pathetic attempts to blame the victims and scuttle the story — let’s not forget you already settled one lawsuit in 2005 — prove just how blind you’ve become.
You don’t need trifocals. You need to be banished into the darkness.
The only thing you’ve said, through a lawyer, is that you refuse to “dignify” the “decades old” and “discredited” allegations. You still don’t get it. You are still hurling mental indignities at the women who allege physical abuse..
Decades later, from miles away, the women must still feel like they are getting raped by doubt.
No, a heartfelt “sorry” won’t fix anything because, as you once noted, actions speak louder than words. An apology won’t erase the groggy memories those women have tried to repress over the years, the ones that deliver fresh nightmares and crying jags in the middle of the night.
“I’m sorry” won’t stop the wrecking ball that has inflicted maximum reputational damage and recast your entire life. You always played the good guy. Now you’re the villain. And that’s exactly why you need to apologize: it’s the only decent thing you have left to do.
5. “Understand this is the end.”
Word to the wise: It’s over. No amount of fame and fortune can save you now.