But it is even more jarring in the context of late-stage Cosby, the moral scold, the comedian turned societal heckler who launched that career by literally defending the police shooting of presumably unarmed black men. In a 2004 screed that came to be known as the “pound cake” speech, he said,
People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged: “The cops shouldn’t have shot him.” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else. And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said, “If you get caught with it, you’re going to embarrass your mother.” Not “You’re going to get your butt kicked.” No. “You’re going to embarrass your mother.”
It is difficult to find adjectives equal to the scale of Cosby’s hypocrisy.
.. Cosby’s appeal lay in his representation of a particular node of racial progress.
.. A young Richard Pryor bristled at the anodyne swath of culture that Cosby occupied in the sixties and the pressures it placed on other comedians, particularly black ones, to create humor that soothed the racial anxieties of a white audience.
.. Cosby served as a brief for a particular kind of racial equality. The indignation on Tuesday stemmed from his presumption that, in America, equality means equal impunity.
.. Clarence Thomas referred to the 1991 Senate inquiry into his own history of sexual harassment as a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.”
.. This is the rhetoric of men whose definition of victimhood is the inability to victimize others.
.. If Kavanaugh ascends to the Supreme Court without a formal investigation into the accusations made against him (all of which he has denied), it will be, in part, because a black man established a model for how best to present oneself as a victim in public. This is a form of interracial unity that the country could do without.
.. Cosby and Kavanaugh are twin exemplars of a kind of amoral amnesty. It is granted to men of great talent and wealth and to those born to men who possess either talent or wealth.
.. Cosby’s poverty-hectoring tours and the book “Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors” is the corrosive effect of irresponsibility.
.. He inflicted this trauma at least sixty times over.
.. There is no accounting for the mechanisms of deflection or rationalization that allowed him to behave in this way while simultaneously denouncing others for far smaller concerns, like what they choose to name their children.
He might not ever do what he has demanded of so many others—take responsibility—but he can no longer avoid being held responsible.