Barry Saunders

Saunders: Bill Cosby’s statement on black media was a dumb one

Sometimes, the saying goes, ’tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Same goes for guilt.

Bill Cosby knows that once he starts denying guilt over one of the sexual assault allegations against him, he’ll have to deny guilt in a score more. That’s why his legal strategy – to hush – was a good one.

Unfortunately for him, when he did deign to speak, proceeding from his mouth was some gobbledygook that would have been better left unsaid.

In an interview last week with a black reporter for the New York Post, Cosby said, “Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism, and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind.”

Say what?

Odious appeal

Cosby’s guilt or innocence is not something to be debated here, although there seems to be no middle ground in the opinions: either he’s a lecherous predator or just a kindly old man who is being unfairly maligned. There is evidence of some black people delighting in or being unsympathetic toward his current travails, having never forgiven him for publicly chastising some in the race for what he deemed self-destructive behavior.

Not me: I think most of what he said was right on.

Even if I didn’t, I’d still be all for giving Cosby and anyone else accused of a crime the benefit of the doubt. There is, though, something odious about Cosby’s appeal for racial unity in a case like this.

I’m willing to entertain the notion that perhaps he misspoke and actually was requesting that black journalists remain open-minded. That, however, is something he should be requesting of all journalists.

I was accused of rape – and just about everything else – as a 16-year-old in Rockingham. What the victim reportedly said was that it “could have” been me who assaulted her as she walked through a path one night. By the time my nemesis among Rockingham cops hauled me in, you’d have thought the woman had positively ID’ed me right down to my Social Security number and I’d better be prepared to go to prison for a long time.

Fortunately for me, I was summering in Washington, D.C., when the incident occurred, breaking the heart of that cop – Rockingham’s black Inspector Javert to my Jean Valjean – who is now walking a beat in heaven or hell.

Considering the unwarranted hell he put me through on more than just that occasion, I know which one my money is on.

Unimpeachable alibi

I was lucky enough to have an unimpeachable alibi when the crime occurred; otherwise, by my reckoning, I’d just be becoming eligible for parole about now. I was also lucky enough not to be a nationally revered figure, “America’s Dad” to many, and the allegation never made it into the newspaper.

Until now, 40 years later. Of course, that is how old some of the allegations being made against Cosby are.

Once it was determined that I was 400 miles away when the crime occurred, the presumably crestfallen cop walked into the room where I was being held and said “Go home.” No “Sorry.” No “You’re innocent.” Just “Go home.”

Seeking an apology or explanation was the last thing on my mind at the time. I was just delighted to be walking home free. If that officer were alive now, though, I’d be pounding on his door demanding satisfaction.

No way am I comparing the inconvenience – inconvenience, my butt: the horror – I went through to the horror the woman went through, but you don’t know despair, Jack, until you find yourself locked in a frigid room with no coat and no control over your future. I’ve always wondered why Rockingham’s cops always kept that interrogation room so cold.

So, naw, Bill, don’t expect any reporter worth his iPhone to remain neutral when they investigate these allegations. What you should expect is that they remain open-minded. I will.