Old accusations: Jackson, Cosby et al

I surprised Chrissy once with my vigorous defense of Micheal Jackson. She thought he was a homosexual perv because of accusations made by boys, or more correctly by their parents. I thought he was sure enough weird, but maybe not a perv. Now we get accusations against Bill Cosby. Everybody jumps on the bandwagon when a famous guy is accused. We should be careful.

Memory is tricky. We think of it like a recording device where the only real challenge is recall. This is not true. Memory must be recreated each time we recall and each time we recall we introduce errors. Studies have documented that people can recall vividly things that did not happen and sometimes things that could not have happened. We saw that back in the 1990s with "recovered memories." It is possible to suggest things to people and create synthetic memories.

Memory will often follow the contours of shared experience. We have famous case of mass hysteria, like the witch trials. We like to dismiss these as people lying, but it is likely that witnesses believed that they had experienced things that were not possible.

I don't know if Bill Cosby was guilty of rape decades ago. I venture to say that he also is not sure and I bet that the women who accuse him are also unclear about the details. The reason that they have statutes of limitations is that you cannot properly develop evidence either to convict or defend.

As a young man, I sometimes used to drink to excess. On a few occasions I woke up next to a woman I would not normally be with. Did she rape me? Could she accuse me? Did we do anything except sleep? I have no idea. Would it be possible for a woman I never knew to accuse me? I suppose so. I could not with certainty deny it. Actually, you could accuse me of robbing a liquor store or peeing against the Capitol and I would be unable to mount a convincing defense. I am not unique in this. I always think it odd when the detective asks a suspect where he was on the night of September 17 last year and the guy can answer.

No matter what really happened. Bill Cosby has done a lot of good. We have evidence of that. Of his wrongdoing we have no evidence. We should just let it go.

Posted by Christine & John at November 24, 2014 6:09 AM
Comment #385950

Bill Cosby is criticizing black people. How dare he expect black people to pull up their pants! He has to pay somehow.

I found it funny the first person said it happened once and then it happened again on another occasion. And it happened 30 years ago!

Posted by: Weary Willie at November 23, 2014 1:44 AM
Comment #385972

Weary Willie is correct. Off hand I have no idea what the politics of Cosby are; but I do know he angered many on the left with his claims of how black youth should act. It is for this reason the media has gone after him. The left did the same thing to Clarence Thomas; but he Media tried it’s best to protect Bill Clinton (America’s first black president) from all allegations of rape or any sexual promiscuity.

Posted by: Sam Jones at November 23, 2014 2:57 PM
Comment #385979

I would leave politics out of this discussion. Both Barack and Michelle Obama have said the same things to black audiences as Cosby. Contrary to conservative comments on this blog, the left is not angered by messages encouraging personal responsibility and achievement. Cosby’s problems have nothing to do with his politics or social messaging.

I think, though, that C&J’s warnings with regard to the accuracy of decades old memories and the problems with suggestive memory recollections have merit.

That said, there are indications in these cases, though, to give pause to any outright dismissal of the growing number of charges of rape or sexual battery leveled against Cosby. It should be remembered that at least one case was litigated within the statute of limitations. It resulted in a settlement prior to trial. In addition, a number of the woman can document disclosures many years ago but did not pursue criminal or civil actions at the time. The “casting couch” was and, perhaps still is, a reality of life in that environment.

Posted by: Rich at November 23, 2014 4:46 PM
Comment #385980


I think it is too convenient. If a women says she is raped and then takes an out-of-court settlement, she was not raped; she was bought. If she really believes the man is a threat, then she is derelict in her duty to others if she accepts payment to keep it quiet.

It may or may not be true that Cosby used these women. It seems clear that they used him. Think about the “casting couch.” Who is the victim? I had a job once where it wsa clear one of the female employees was sleeping with the boss. This got her assignments and promotions beyond what she would have otherwise achieved. Who were the victims? We were, the non participants in the tryst. Both the man and the woman were perps. So I was the victim of sexual harassment, not the women who laid down to get ahead.

I guess what bothers me is the new puritanical ideas.

Christine tells me that it is anti-woman, since it implies that women need protection, wards of the state.

Re memory - that was important but a bit of a side issue. I have been studying memory. It is very interesting how wrong it usually is and it is often the people most certain of their memories that are the most wrong. Unfortunately, our culture and our legal system credits certainty.

Our memories make sense of things that don’t really fit together and our stories are often better than the facts, as they say, our history reads better than it was lived.

Posted by: C&J at November 23, 2014 5:27 PM
Comment #385988

I recently had a memory lapse when I told Rich that Alan Colmes was on CNN’s Crossfire. I could have swore he represented the left at one time on that show. I can still picture watching him, and I still think it was Crossfire, but facts are facts and I must be mistaking his appearance on the Fox show with being on CNN.

Posted by: Weary Willie at November 23, 2014 7:13 PM
Comment #386009

Definitely blood in the water with the Coz. The court system has a statute of limitations to protect someone from this type of thing but in the court of public opinion well anything goes. The only question is why right now in 2014. I’ll bet there was a reason someone started this little ball of snow down the hill. Extortion? Payback? Who knows, but now that they have Coz’s bag man that snowball is going to just keep rolling.

Time for Coz to take it to the house.

Posted by: George in SC at November 24, 2014 9:46 AM
Comment #386012

It reminds me of Michael Jackson’s ordeal.

Posted by: Weary Willie at November 24, 2014 12:27 PM
Comment #386087

Doesn’t it seem odd that everyone in this case is talking about something that happened decades ago? Also, the press are saying they “should have taken it seriously” when they supposedly learned about this behavior.

This can’t be taken seriously if all the accusations are made 30 years after the fact. One accuser said, at the time, she couldn’t believe it happened, but after 30 years she realized..!

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Comment #390727

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