Lincoln High School Statesman

Bill Cosby: What does guilty mean?

Cosby was recently found guilty in the trial of sexual offenses against him, tainting the legacy of his career.

Cosby was recently found guilty in the trial of sexual offenses against him, tainting the legacy of his career.

Pixabay | Creative Commons CC0

Pixabay | Creative Commons CC0

Cosby was recently found guilty in the trial of sexual offenses against him, tainting the legacy of his career.

Timothy Stolp, Staff Writer

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Cliff Huxtable entered homes around the nation in the first half of the 80s. His charm and compassion gave him a presence in the American conscience. The truth is: It was all a character.

Having written stories already this year about sexual assault allegations and the Times Up revolution, I have come into contact with the hurt, often at the hands of men with hefty egos based on a vast accumulation of power, inflicted upon all types of people. Perhaps for this reason, Bill Cosby’s guilty verdict on three counts of sexual assault evokes a markedly different emotion for myself and others.

“This was like watching someone die of cancer,” said CBS Sunday Morning contributor, Nancy Giles, in “On the end of Bill Cosby” which aired last Sunday. “It’s been agonizing.”

Cosby’s rise to fame was a turning point in TV history for people of color, as Cliff Huxtable was one of the first African-American father characters to grace the small screen as the lead. This image inspired a generation, a generation of children let the Huxtables, with all their struggles and life lessons coming from a new perspective, into their hearts.

Giles, like many people, grew up watching “The Cosby Show”, and is now dealing with the death of a powerful image.

“I knew they were just characters,” said Giles. “But I guess in some ways I didn’t. I needed to believe they were Bill Cosby.”

It seemed Cosby couldn’t have been the man who did this to the multitude of women who have accused him of a range of sexual offenses, not the man who played America’s TV dad.

Giles reminds her viewers that the opposite is true, unfortunately.

“The truth hurts,” said Giles. “And the truth is Bill Cosby is 80-years-old and now stands convicted of three counts of sexual assault, which could put him in prison for 30 years.”

Now, we are forced to ponder: What does guilty mean?

Certainly, I feel guilty, too. Though I did not grow up with the show on the air, I still understood Cosby’s elite stance within the comedic realm of entertainment. I respected it and to some extent, I still do; I respect the characters that celebrated humanity.

But I grapple with the guilt I feel for the women who have gone through all the trials to receive some semblance of justice and still face ridicule for tearing down an important face of change. I grapple with the guilt of having to tell these stories and often feeling that they don’t grant victims all the grace they deserve. I grapple with guilt because we are all still guilty of letting offenses such as these fly under the radar, whether we like to believe it or not.

We grapple with guilt at letting real humans hurt other real humans, whether they hold power or seemingly fight for progress.

Guilty is on Cosby’s record now, and his trial stands as a turning point towards real justice despite the copious qualifications of the culprit. The real guilt in this case is not all on us as citizens and viewers, but we must begin considering the implications that Cosby’s case brought up.

Guilty is a sign of hurting hearts and a misguided path. Where will we stand?


To watch the entire Opinion from Giles on CBS Sunday Morning:

Nancy Giles’ “On the end of Billy Cosby”

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Timothy Stolp, Staff Writer
Timothy Stolp is a first-year staff writer as a sophomore at LHS. You might notice Tim has an affinity for cuffed jeans and flannel. When he’s not stressing out over schoolwork, Tim is participating in oral interp at LHS. He also enjoys binge watching Netflix and crying while listening to music. He is Latin American...