Some thoughts on the Cosby thing
I’ve been trying to read that NY Mag article, but the connection keeps timing out - maybe they’re getting too much traffic? Anyway.
One thing I’ve been thinking of is how difficult it seems to be to make legitimate claims against likeable people (I was going to write likeable men, but I can think of a few women as well off the top of my head, and I don’t really have time to do a statistical analysis). I’m not talking so much about the classic story of neighbors interviewed after some asshole did something horrible (”he was such a quiet neighbor, I can’t believe I never noticed he was a serial killer”), but rather the people that are actively popular, funny, universally looked up to. It’s the comedian whose joke we all laughed at, the high school sports star the entire town pinned hopes on, the colleague that’s always offering to help out. When someone is victimised by them - whether a violent crime like rape or assault, or ‘non-violent’ like bullying or harassment - they know that it’s going to be an uphill battle to not only get anyone to believe them, but even if they are believed, to not be seen as the person who ruined senior year/ the best jokes ever/ a friendly happy workplace for everyone else.There is a real fear that not only will you have to fight a hard battle, but you’ll also be resented and hated, even if you can prove your case.
Considering so many of these crimes and offences are widely committed by people who know the victim directly, this means a lot of offenders are getting away with it, because victims don’t want to make waves on top of everything. I’m not inventing anything here, obviously; all this has been known for a long time as one of the reasons rape is under-reported. But I really get the sense that the same can be extended to the other offences: bullying, harassment (sexual and psychological), etc. Victims are isolated in those cases too, and take a big risk in coming forward.
So, let’s extend people the courtesy of suspending our disbelief that the office nice guy/ super friendly girl at school/ funny guy in our band can’t possibly have a darker side. In all cases where our first reaction is ‘but that’s such a nice person, maybe it’s all a misunderstanding’ let’s reverse the story, remember that the victim’s story is very valid, and must be considered without the ‘nice person’ goggles.