We like to think that we’re a society that protects the vulnerable, but the continued power of celebrity bullies like Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly makes you wonder. Both bad Bills are fond of the bully’s favorite tactic—turning their victims into villains. In Cosby’s case it’s the brave woman who came forward to seek justice for being sexually abused. O’Reilly meanwhile is promising an all-out assault on those who put an end to his decades of misbehavior by promising an “exposé” of a “left-wing cabal”—just as soon as his current legal quagmire is finished, of course.
It makes me feel deeply that hope is in short supply when it comes to helping victims seek justice.
At least O’Reilly is widely known as a bully, braggart and blowhard. His ability to avoid justice has been due in part thanks to his late friend and fellow bully and sexual predator Roger Ailes, but the accusations against him have been no surprise.
This is contrary to Cosby, who was beloved by an entire generation for his clean humor, intelligent children’s cartoons and endearing turn as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show. That’s why the revelation of multiple cases of rape and molestation has been such a shock. When America’s favorite dad turns out to be a serial sexual predator, how are victims expected to get any sort of closure?
This is where the justice system is flawed. More than 40 women have come forward with stories about being sexually violated by Cosby, but the trial allowed the testimony of only one of them. This made the trial a case of he said/she said without giving the jury the full picture. Why should they listen to a young woman against the word of the most lovable father figure of the 1980s?
The system is clearly stacked against people who are targeted, especially if they’re marginalized or not people of means. Tragically, this allows bullies to think of themselves as bullet-proof and continue their misdeeds. No wonder so many of us are losing faith in the justice system.
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