Barry Saunders

Critics aim stones at Bill Cosby’s glass house

Comedian Bill Cosby performs at the Stand Up for Heroes event in 2013 at Madison Square Garden, in New York. Cosby admitted in a 2005 deposition that he obtained Quaaludes with the intent of using them to have sex with young women. In court documents released Monday, July 6, 2015, he admitted giving the sedative to at least one woman.
Comedian Bill Cosby performs at the Stand Up for Heroes event in 2013 at Madison Square Garden, in New York. Cosby admitted in a 2005 deposition that he obtained Quaaludes with the intent of using them to have sex with young women. In court documents released Monday, July 6, 2015, he admitted giving the sedative to at least one woman. John Minchillo/Invision/AP

Historians may argue over who said it first, but there can be no disagreement over who said it best – The Temptations. In their 1975 hit “Glass House,” Dennis Edwards soulfully if ungrammatically instructed, if you’re living in one, “don’t throw no stones.”

Bill Cosby did not heed that advice.

The funny man, who in his later years became as renowned for throwing stones at poor black people for their perceived moral failings as for being an entertainer, now finds himself the target of stones for his admitted moral failures.

That’s the nicest way to describe the act of drugging women to have sex with them, which is what Cosby admitted doing in a 2005 court deposition that recently became public.

As someone who has been deposed a time or 10, I’m a witness that there is nothing like having an attorney ask, “Do I need to remind you, Mr. Saunders, that you are under oath?” to make the truth leap involuntarily from your throat, no matter how sordid that truth may be.

Considering the magnitude of his confession, it’s likely someone spoke those words to Cosby.

You know the proverb “no man is a hero to his valet?”

It’s probably a good bet that no man is a hero when he’s giving a deposition under oath. Not all men are creeps and criminals, either, which is what Cosby is if the allegations against him are true.

The last of the recalcitrant networks that continued to show re-runs of “The Cosby Show,” despite the swelling clouds of scandal that hovered over his reputation like flies over a deer carcass on a July day, has finally dropped the show.

The networks Centric, owned by BET, and Bounce both dropped the formerly beloved syndicated sit-com, months after TVLand did.

Smart business sense, sure, but dropping the show was mainly for show.

Why?

Because “The Cosby Show” with its idyllic family life and all-knowing paterfamilias just doesn’t work any more.

One of my favorite episodes, which I watched last night to see if I could detect any hint of creepiness in Cosby, was the one in which son Theo got his ear pierced and then tried to keep his infected lobe turned away from his disapproving dad.

The episode was hilarious, touching all the right chords of humor and firm parenting. The show was able to do that so consistently because it must’ve have been one of the first shows with a consulting psychologist on set. That’s probably why, at the point in each episode where real-life parents would have backhanded their bone-headed progeny, Claire and Heathcliff Huxtable would sit and rationally, humorously, work through the problem in 22 minutes plus commercials.

That psychologist, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, and Cosby even wrote a book lovingly excoriating – or as lovingly as one can excoriate – black people called “Come On People.”

Hey, that’s Kool & the Gang, but couldn’t Dr. Poussaint have also instructed Cosby that drugging women to have sex with them was not cool, and, in fact, criminal?

That’s why one of anyone’s least-favorite episodes has to be the one where Cliff serves his secret bbq sauce that he boasts makes people horny.

You know those people who, despite an ever-lengthening line of women claiming they’d been cosbified, were saying “innocent until proven guilty” and arguing for him to have his day in court?

I was one. Still am. There may indeed be some non-criminal rationale that Cosby and his attorneys can put forth, and he deserves to be heard.

What we’ve heard so far from court records, though, isn’t encouraging for us who thought Bill was Heathcliff and vice versa.

Just as he has been wiped from our television sets, there will be a rush to wipe Cosby from our memories. Disney has removed his statue from its Hollywood Studio theme park and there has been a clamor – rejected – to have his star removed from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

To be honest, some of us cheered Cosby when he criticized some of the less savory aspects of some black people, when he decried the air of anti-intellectualism and misplaced priorities among some, chided them for not taking advantage of the gains made by people who’d died or braved dogs and water hoses to secure them.

Author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, in his 2005 book, “Is Bill Cosby Right? (Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?) ” said Cosby was embarking on a “Blame-the-Poor-Tour.”

Cosby’s main mistake, though, was making a universal condemnation and blaming not only all poor black people for being poor, but also blaming the symptoms and not the disease. Sure, more people need to place more emphasis on education. That’s inarguable and cuts across racial and ethnic lines.They also, though, need jobs and access to quality education, which is not always available.

Do young black dudes need to pull up their pants and stop showing their drawers?

Heck yeah, but even if every black teen pulled up his britches tomorrow and started dressing as neatly as Wally Cleaver, black teen unemployment would still be a criminally high 43 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department in 2013.

That doesn’t mean we don’t need a moral arbiter, someone willing to call us out on self-defeating, counter-productive behavior.

We do: It just needs to be someone who hasn’t admitted to drugging women so he can have sex with them.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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