I Am Bill Cosby’s Neighbor?
Seriously, I live on the street in Elkins Park, PA where Cosby allegedly assaulted the woman he was arraigned this week for attacking in 2004. So, I must know whether he’s guilty, right? You know, proximity to the crime (alleged) and all that.
Alas, I don’t. Neither do you, unless you are one of the two people in the room that night. I have opinions, as do you perhaps, but mine are no more valid than yours. Apparently, People Magazine doesn’t agree with me because on the day of his arraignment, a reporter from that magazine was trolling my street asking the neighbors if they had ever seen Cosby and if so, what they thought of his guilt or innocence. Cosby’s house had awesome tulips every spring and lovely Christmas lights once upon a time, but that’s pretty much the extent of what I witnessed. I have seen Cosby two times in the 25 years he’s owned that property; both times in a Rolls Royce he was in pulling out of a back driveway while I jogged by. He was not friendly. He didn’t wave, didn’t greet me, and didn’t offer me Jello or a Jello shot. (You know because I might have been thirsty as I was running.) But, that doesn’t mean my opinion of his actions has any more merit than anyone’s.
It’s a funny thing, our perception of our celebrity heroes and how much we think we know them despite never having met them. So, when they fall we feel they have let us down personally. In some ways we are even angrier with them than we are with people we actually do know who let us down (You know, like my family!). Is Bill Cosby’s attack on women (alleged, again) any more heinous than any other serial rapist’s crimes? No, those crimes are abhorrent no matter who commits them. Yet, because he’s famous, it somehow seems to be worse. (Not to the victims. I feel quite sure that any victim of a violent crime is horrified regardless of who committed the act, famous or not.)
There is a difference between celebrities and politicians we elect, however. When I vote for you, you and I have made a pact of sorts. You’ve told me you’ll take the office and work hard to uphold the image while you’re doing the work. I don’t have to know you personally to be a part of that agreement or to expect you to hold up your end of the bargain. We don’t make any pact with the actors we hold in high esteem. We somehow just believe they are the good people they portray. Politicians tell us about their character and want us to believe them. Actors just play act a character, we have no reason to believe they are anything like the parts they play.
So, as we here in the U.S. enter into an election year, (I know, you’re thinking it already seems like this election has been going on forever.) I’m counting on learning more about the politicians vying for my vote so that I can enter a pact with the one I think won’t let me (or the world) down. Bill Cosby may get a great deal of the news coverage this year but honestly, even though he’s my neighbor, I don’t really care what happens to him. I do care about his accusers getting the justice as they deserve. His fame and notoriety don’t interest me and they shouldn’t keep his accusers from getting justice. I just don’t care about him just because he’s nearby and he’s famous. If I’m running by and he offers me a drink, I’ll probably just keep going.