Should “America’s Dad” be Stripped of His Presidential Medal of Freedom?

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This Dec. 2, 2014 photo by Josh Keown posted on his Twitter page shows the graffiti scrawled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame star of actor-comedian Bill Cosby in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. The word "rapist" was scrawled on the star three times. AP Photo/Josh Keown

There is a movement afoot to revoke Bill Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom in wake of recent resurfacing of rape allegations, culminating thus far with the AP obtaining and releasing a court document that has Cosby admitting to buying Quaaludes for the purpose of having sex with women.

Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment is urging President Obama’s administration to make the unprecedented move to strip Cosby of his award. Not only that, but they are also seeking enlistment of George W. Bush, who in 2002 presented Cosby with the nation’s highest civilian honor, to support the petition in rescinding Cosby’s award.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU60IrYVcKk

“Mr. President, when you presented Mr. Cosby with the nation’s highest honor you had absolutely no knowledge that he would later be accused of the sexual assault of dozens of women,” Angela Rose, PAVE’s executive director, said in a letter to former President Bush. “Had you known then what you know now, I am certain you never would have allowed Mr. Cosby to receive this singular distinction…Mr. President, it is not too late to remedy this. I urge you to express your support with my organization’s ongoing effort to revoke the medal from Mr. Cosby.”

Of course the way headlines have been reading, it’s given liberals fodder for more Bush blame. Along with bringing out the snide comments

Marsha Wheeler-Crist: Why don’t you put them in prison Together – Bill for raping women and W for raping America.

Bert Gibbons: Here’s a picture of a guy…. that lulled Americans into a sleep-like state… took advantage… and left many with psychological scars that will never heal.

The guy other is Bill Cosby…

Should Bill Cosby have his award revoked?

He has not been tried and convicted of any allegations; but he has been condemned and convicted before proven innocent in the court of public opinion and social media.

Certainly, the accusations appear to have strong merit, with around 40 women accusing him of similar rape scenarios. But even if proven true, does this warrant a stripping away of his Medal of Freedom? Awarded for service in media/television?

The Medal is awarded to those who have demonstrated

“An especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Despite Bill Cosby’s apparent personal moral failings (and rape is an absolutely disgusting violation of another human being’s person), it’s unquestionable that over the past few decades, he has built an enormous body of work that has contributed to cultural and educational significance. In the same way that Richard Wagner’s music can still be enjoyed by all, is it not possible to condemn Bill Cosby the (alleged) serial rapist while acknowledging the good he’s brought to the lives of so many other people around the world?

Of course, it’s a natural human reaction to not be able to separate a man from his work. As much as I enjoy Springsteen’s music, I’d enjoy it even more if he weren’t so outspoken about his politics; sometimes it’s hard to separate the man from his music. It’s hard for me to see Nordberg instead of OJ Simpson; even though when I was growing up, prior to Simpson’s murder trial, I used to enjoy this scene from Naked Gun (don’t judge me for my taste):

I still do, to a degree; but my enjoyment is greatly diminished.

Chris Benoit’s legacy as a WWE wrestler is tainted, after he murdered his family and committed suicide. A phenomenal talent, it’s now a struggle to watch his past work and suspend the realization that he became a murderer, for whatever the reason.

I recall as a kid, one year buying a Father’s Day present for my dad: A Bill Cosby book called “Fatherhood”. I read it and it had good, clean, family humor and truths from what I remember.

A few years ago, I recorded a few audio tracks of “America’s Dad” doing his comedy routines onto a CD to introduce the Coz to a young friend. She had never grown up watching Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, or heard his standup comedy routines. I would not introduce her to these things today.

So what does Cosby’s alleged personal failings have to do with his public contributions to society, for which the Medal of Freedom was given him? The Presidential Medal of Freedom was not awarded to him for moral character and virtue. What does it say about Cosby’s legacy? A lifetime of good that he has achieved, amidst any moral bad? Is it possible to separate the good from the bad and still enjoy and appreciate the good? While acknowledging and not sweeping under the rug, the bad?

Not just his comedy, but also his contributions to political discourse on the state of the black family and education? His commentary on these things should stand on their own merits and not lose credibility because of something totally unrelated to it.

On a larger point, if we constantly removed landmarks, revoked awards, changed names of buildings, all because of current public opinions and revelations, what will be left? No Mount Rushmore. No more buildings with the name “Washington” or “Jefferson” (slaveholders, after all). Is there a person alive without skeletons in the closet? Who has not experienced a lapse of moral character, slight or severe?

Maybe after today- or 10 years from now, we can finally petition for President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize be revoked.

7 Responses to “Should “America’s Dad” be Stripped of His Presidential Medal of Freedom?”

  1. 1

    john

    Maybe before even thinking of taking back that medal you should consider the way you first reacted to hearing about his druging and raping mostly white women. At first most posters here blamed the victims and how the liberal mainstream media were out to lynch Cosby for being a social conservative
    Please contrast that with Sen Menendez and the underage Dominican hooker (false) scandal that was promoted 6 days before his (re)election by the Daily Caller rightwing mouthpiece
    I think that the Medal should be taken from him, as well as George Tennet who was given his Medal for doing such a great job leading up to the Iraq War with his WMD nonesense. That ws the greatest failure of intelligence since Pearl Harbor
    He said finding WMD in Iraq was a “slam dunk”. Well it wasn’t.

  2. 2

    Bill

    How is Bush awarding this medal to Cosby any worse than Obama making Holder Attorney General or inviting Sharpton into the White House and accepting advice from him? Those examples are, in fact, worse, because Obama already knew the sins of these guys; he just didn’t mind.

    So, how do you undo it? I don’t think you can, only learn from the examples. Obviously, what Cosby was awarded the medal for was the things he had done up to that point, that we knew about. Just as obviously, had his other personality been known (though frequent invites to the Playboy mansion might have been a hint), Bush would not have even let him in the White House (though Obama probably would have).

    The flags and monuments in the news today were put in place because of what they meant to some people and are now being dismantled because of what some OTHER people at a later (and totally different) time think they mean; I guess to answer the question of this post, we would need a consensus of what the medal means to everyone.

  3. 3

    Bill

    @john:

    Maybe before even thinking of taking back that medal you should consider the way you first reacted to hearing about his druging and raping mostly white women. At first most posters here blamed the victims and how the liberal mainstream media were out to lynch Cosby for being a social conservative

    Did you always dream of becoming a lying moron?

  4. 6

    MOS 8541

    bill and bill-R for racism and rape-the fool approves, so does every member of the sitting congress, and the supreme court.
    did cosby murder anyone? does anyone recall ron brown and Shelly Kelly?

  5. 7

    Nathan Blue

    @john: Uh…

    This standard rant from “john” is neither linear, nor rational.

    If anything, he serves as a warning to those about how division, bigotry, and double-speak can poison people, turning the impressionable neophyte into the rabid acolyte.

    Sadly, this guy thinks posting gibberish behind the safety of his computer is somehow “winning”. Nothing backed up, nothing fought for. He’s supporting the Conservative Platform much, much more than the libs/dems.

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