It’s not rape if you’re famous

Huh. So celebrity rapists don’t always get to silence all their victims or accusers. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon tells us how Bill Cosby hasn’t been able to lately.

there was beloved icon Bill Cosby – who’s come under fire recently thanks to a new 500-page biography that conveniently omits a 2006 lawsuit and settlement from a woman who claimed he drugged and raped her — and the more than a dozen women who have also come forward with very similar stories. The response to Cosby today is vastly different than it was eight years ago, when the entire case went largely unremarked.

Comedian Hannibal Buress made it part of his routine last month in Cosby’s old stomping ground of Philadelphia. “The Queen Latifah Show” announced it was canceling an appearance by Cosby – while insisting the controversy had nothing to do with the abrupt scheduling change.

So as the drumbeat of public inquiry has grown ever louder, the Cos picked a bad time to tell the world “Go ahead. Meme me!” and unveil the hashtag #CosbyMeme. And meme him people did, with hilarious photos of him mugging with captions like “14 allegations of rape? Zipzopzubittybop!” and “I just can’t stop puddin’ it in other people without their consent.” Unshockingly, the 77-year-old has now backed away quietly from making further requests of his followers.

Oh yes? No empty threats of lawsuits? No infinitely verbose bloggers rushing to his defense?

Let’s see a few of those memes…

View image on Twitter

Pete Forester @pete_forester

View image on Twitter

Jason Steele @FilmCow

View image on Twitter

Cornhole West @Floyd_Banks

View image on Twitter

sideshowRaheem @sideshowRaheem

More here, as well as of course on Twitter.

Then she tells the Dapper Laughs story, and sums up:

I could write, literally every day, about men whose apparent loathing for women has been the rocket fuel for their creative inspiration. That these guys get work and can make money while behaving badly isn’t going away any time soon. But what gives me the slightest glimmer of hope that the world may be a less horrible place for my daughters someday is that more people are speaking up about this BS. They are calling out the trolls who threaten women, they are having conservations about street harassment, they are urging venues to cancel events hosted by sexist jerks, and they are saying, again and again, that if you behave badly it will be noted and it will not be supported. Last year, Australian Lt. Gen. David Morrison issued a statement on sexual abuse in the military in which he laid it out simply that “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” We’ve walked past long enough. And we’re not accepting it anymore. So if you have a woman problem, take note, before the joke’s on you.

I hope so.


  1. Wowbagger, Heaper of Scorn says

    Quick, someone tell Monsignor Nugent that Cosby is an atheist! Bring out the Godless Fainting Couch™!

    Writing 10,000 word blog posts accusing everyone who’s created/reposted one of these memes of blasphemy and apostasy should keep him busy for a while – and PZ and latsot could use a break.

  2. says

    I had always thought Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris were a bit weird so it didn’t come as a complete surprise when we found out what they had been doing. However I have to say that I would not have expected Bill Cosby to have been a rapist. I have only seen a few of his shows; I didn’t find them particularly funny – I guess they were targeted at an American audience – but he seemed a nice enough guy.

  3. doublereed says

    Eventually, they tried filtering out words “rape” “sex” and such, but people easily found ways around it.

  4. says

    They are fighting a helluva fight, with Professor Myers putting on a rhetorical clinic and latsot arguing circles around the opposition. They make a pretty formidable duo, with a powerful one-two combination.

    Still, they are shouldering a heavy burden, what with the single-minded obsessiveness and over-the-top verboseness of their nemesis. Not to mention the sychophantic group of apologists that has emerged to protect him.

    Is there any way to get more of our side into the fray to back Professor Myers, as the (s)pitters back their latest older-white-cis-het hero?

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    The first misogynist comedian I became aware of was Andrew Dice Clay. His career seems to have fizzled out in the early 1990s, shortly after I became aware of him (not that those two details are in any way related). A guy I was dating mentioned he was planning on going to an Andrew Dice Clay concert, which shocked me. I think we were “over” before the concert arrived, though. Who cares? However, Andrew Dice Clay enjoyed quite a following back in the early 1990s (before I guess everyone got tired of him). He was an earlier incarnation of Dapper Laughs.

    The Cosby meme generator was a case of spectacular bad judgment, reminiscent of when the NYPD rolled out a public relations campaign, inviting people to tweet their pictures and videos of their (hopefully positive and happy) interactions with the police, the best of which would be featured on the police department’s Facebook page. The predictable flood of pictures and videos flowed in, showing beaten, bloody victims of the po-po; of people (including women) being manhandled by brutes in uniform and just plain assaulted by New York’s Finest, and of people being stopped and frisked, including a cute little doggie all dressed up. What had been envisioned as a low-cost, high profile, feel-good campaign backfired badly and instead turned into a public relations nightmare.

    But this was, what, April of this year? McDonald’s had a similar bad experience with its #McDStories campaign back in 2012. HOW, with rape accusations swirling, could the Cosby publicity machine possibly think the meme thing would be a good idea?? Unless they had had it up to *here* with Cosby, of course… “Gosh, we had no idea there might be a down side! We’re so sorry!!”

  6. Athywren; Kitty Wrangler says

    I’m starting to wonder if I’ll make it to 30 with any childhood heroes left over. I’m just desperately hoping that Tony Hart & Pat Sharp never did anything… hopefully Sharp committed enough crimes with his oh-so-80’s hair to have filled the quota.

  7. latsot says

    @Athywren: as far as I know, Johnny Ball didn’t assault anyone. He bought me a pint once and let me handle a snake and an iguana. But he’s quite a lot wrong about the old climate change business now so we’re basically left with Rod, Jane – NOT FREDDY* – Bungle and Itsy and Bitsy. And I was always a bit wary about Bungle and Bitsy. Itsy seemed fine. The Wombles were probably OK and The Clangers are beyond suspicion like all sufficiently famous knitted creatures.

    * Freddy is totally fine. I singled him out as a rhetorical device to demonstrate that people can use rhetorical devices that involve people, despite being assured that I can not.

    This comment has been brought to you by me being in a fucking nark and some colours or numbers or something.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    Last year, Australian Lt. Gen. David Morrison issued a statement

    That was and remains a fucking awesome speech. The best thing about it is the impression the general gives that he is JUST about controlling his incandescent rage that he’s having to say these things. If you’ve not seen it, do yourself a favour:

  9. Dunc says

    I’m starting to wonder if I’ll make it to 30 with any childhood heroes left over.

    I guess you’re maybe a little to young to hold Oliver Postgate as a hero… Which is a shame. We could use more like him.

  10. Crimson Clupeidae says

    sonofrojblake, thanks for that. I hadn’t seen it before.

    I now have a man-crush on that general!

  11. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    @Bernard 2, Jimmy Saville always seemed to be weird and creepy. And the Beeb gave him show after show. Rolf Harris was nowhere near as ubiquitous.

    I always found the Conservative Monday Club creepy as well. But I didn’t ever expect to find that several of their members frequented the Elm Guest House, a pedophile brothel where they beat children from a nearby children’s home and then raped them.

    We now know that it was common knowledge in the Tory party that Peter Morrison was a serial rapist and the party covered up for him time after time. We know that police enquiries were blocked. What we don’t know is who by. But we do know that Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary has been interviewed under police caution in connection with a rape allegation and held ministerial responsibility.

    One of the things that has been a puzzle to me and others is quite why pedophilia was suddenly elevated from a non-concern to the number one law enforcement concern in the period 1980-1990. It predated the rise of the Internet so that is not an explanation.

    Having looked at the Elm Guest House files, I am convinced that the story was common knowledge in Fleet street as well and journalists and police were furious about being unable to write on the story. The Tory party used the UK libel laws to suppress discussion of the case. So the story was passed between journalists in bars and people got madder and madder. There are quite a few covert references to the suppressed scandal if you care to look for them in the popular culture of the day.

    The names we have heard about so far are the small fry. The big names aren’t all dead and they aren’t all retired even.

  12. Blanche Quizno says

    Any time people are saying, “What could possibly go wrong?” you know you’ve got trouble.

  13. Barb's Wire says

    I’m fortunate that I’ve not easily succumbed to seeing anyone as my hero at any point in life…there have been people I’ve admired perhaps for a certain talent, others considered mentors, but not heroes. My parents taught us to not trust anyone as all good (or all bad for that matter) – that humans can display one thing and think/do other things that are very harmful. It is an advantage that means I never feel compelled to support anyone because of placing them on some sort of pedestal.

    In our secular community, the worship of people like “thunderfoot” on youtube from his “defeat creationism” days blinds his fans to his throwing science, reason and reality out of the winfow since then in his hateful vendetta against women (who’ve accused…um, “whoever”…. um, of what he terms “bad sex” (read – nonconsensual sex)) .

    So thanks mom & dad (& I mean that sincerely); no hero worship = no big let down when it is discovered that they aren’t only terribly flawed humans, but that they reached hero status often by being really good at one skill…. and being able to adeptly cover up the rest of who they really are. (Jian Gomeshi comes to mind)

    Probably the closest thing to a hero I have is Canada’s Stephen Lewis – former NDP leader, feminist and advocate for the fight against aids in Africa.
    I admire his work, and would be truly dismayed if it were discovered his actions betrayed it. But, if that came to light, my support would end. So far, so good. I expect my admiration to continue.

  14. Lady Mondegreen (aka Stacy) says

    Phillip Hallam-Baker #11

    One of the things that has been a puzzle to me and others is quite why pedophilia was suddenly elevated from a non-concern to the number one law enforcement concern in the period 1980-1990.

    I remember those days and my own dawning awareness of the problem very well. Alice Miller’s books about child abuse were very popular then. Feminists did quite a lot to raise consciousness about child sexual abuse, as well. Awareness grew. The mental health professions took notice.

    At about the same time people were questioning Freud (who had claimed that children fantasize and confabulate about sex with adults.)

    Then there was the flawed “recovered memory” hypothesis. That in combination with “Satanic Panic” and new awareness of how common child sexual abuse really is, led to a lot of unfortunate prosecutions of innocent people. Fortunately when the pendulum settled, the fact that kids really do get abused, sexually and in other ways, far more often than most of us care to think, sunk in, despite some misplaced and destructive anxiety on the part of some prosecutors and therapists.

  15. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Stacy @14

    One of the problems with the satanic panic was that it ended up confirming the assertions of people denying that there was any issue. Some of whom in the UK it now turns out were likely pedophiles.

    I suspect that you are right in pointing to the debunking of Freudian notions as being a part of the reversal. Another part was the gay community explicitly severing relations with pedophile organizations that had attempted to attach themselves to their cause.

    There are certainly people who peddle damaging myths relating to sex offenses. There is a US organization peddling the ludicrous claim that a third of US teens are at risk of being sex trafficked, their criteria turned out to include living within 50 miles of the Mexico border. But there are other claims that used to be dismissed as ludicrous that appear to be rather more credible.

    For years the UK Met denied that there was any credible evidence that ‘snuff movies’ existed. While the evidence does not rise to the level of proof at this point, the Spartacus Club founders were involved in producing pornography and there are unexplained disappearances of children from UK care homes that they appear to have been involved in.

  16. says

    @ OP

    Oh yes? No empty threats of lawsuits? No infinitely verbose bloggers rushing to his defense?

    I’m amazed no Thought Leader ™ has yet tweeted:

    “@mrgregariously Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t take drugs. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t take drugs.”

    That was such a deal-clincher, for verbose bloggers, the last time it was tried.

  17. mildlymagnificent says

    I suspect that you are right in pointing to the debunking of Freudian notions as being a part of the reversal. Another part was the gay community explicitly severing relations with pedophile organizations that had attempted to attach themselves to their cause.

    Yup. When you read some feminist writings from the period, especially those with a literary/ philosophy perspective, you can see them twisting and turning all sorts of ways to reconcile Freud’s notions about child development and adult sexuality with their feminist politics. As for the gay community and pedophilia, it wasn’t just them. A lot of the early “sexual freedom” stuff was very blurry, for want of a better word, about sexual activity of all kinds, including adult and child.

    It took about 20-25 years for the full implications of the idea of personal autonomy/ freedom from coercion/restriction to come out from under the Freudian shadow and to allow people to say that some sexual activity was absolutely wrong without being accused of prudish inhibitions. There are quite a few women who were around in the 60s and 70s who recall sexual “freedom” as the freedom to do anything sexual – except to say No. Unfortunately, that is also true of too many women in this century even where there are laws saying otherwise.

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