I, like so many of you, am filled with disappointment. But just because Bill Cosby was released from prison doesn’t mean the fight is over. We must still fight to ensure that cancel culture doesn’t go too far.
What happened to Bill — being punished for a crime he was fairly convicted of — is unfortunately still the exception, not the rule. Most people aren’t allowed to go through a justice system that rewards exorbitant wealth, power, and patriarchy. Every day, countless rapists are denied the opportunity to have their day in court — an institution that has historically found 8% of accused rapists guilty.
The list of entertainers who were canceled before being given their day in court should be disturbing to everybody. Of course, there’s Louis C.K., whose conviction in the court of public opinion has left him with no other option but to live off his $35 million fortune and sell out some of the largest theaters in the country. There’s also Chris D’Elia, who was a successful stand-up comedian before he was canceled. Now, all he does is continue to perform stand-up comedy around Los Angeles, a global entertainment mecca.
Despite the uphill battle we face, it’s important to remember that cancel culture remains a pervasive force in our society that inflicts minimal harm upon famous men. For those who systemically abuse their subordinates, the pressure of living in that society can be exhausting. Consider the psychological toll of worrying that your morning spent catcalling would be interrupted by a push notification that suggested you might have to suffer the consequences of your action for a few weeks.
Put yourselves in the shoes of someone afraid of logging onto Twitter, because people might be openly discussing something he did lucidly and on purpose.
Imagine the anguish of having a development deal with FX and then losing that deal, but still getting to keep your mansions in Hollywood Hills and Calabasas. That’s humbling, especially when you consider that it might take one or two years for another network to offer you a small spot in a huge, nationally syndicated comedy series, even though you did something that should technically send you to jail for 25 years.
It’s not just famous men who are impacted by cancel culture. Our sons are the ones growing up in this dangerous, invasive climate that has them living in fear of a slap on the wrist. Many young boys hold their keys between their fingers when they walk home at night, in case they’re confronted by somebody they sexually abused and have to run inside, stat. I’ve heard stories of boys who are afraid to go on a date with a girl because they’re afraid they’ll abuse her and then suffer small, unobservable consequences for said abuse. I even spoke to a man last week who refuses to wear headphones in public, so he can always be aware of his surroundings, in case a woman notices that he’s masturbating on a public street corner and starts shouting about it.
Yes, Bill Cosby’s release is devastating. He deserves to sit in prison for exactly the amount of time legally required of convicted rapists and not a second more because to wish for anything else would be subjective and therefore incorrect. But there’s a long battle ahead of us for all the other men who have been unjustly tried in the courts of cancel culture, and we simply cannot rest until they’re afforded the same absolution and blanket immunity that their forefathers received.
Until those men are tried in a historically biased, misogynistic court of law, it’s not our job to deem them guilty. It’s our job to continue letting them live as the most powerful people in society.