The former Cuomosexuals

Ch-ch-ch-changes

cuomosexualsMy daughter pointed out that after Andrew Cuomo agreed to resign as governor of New York, Trevor Noah was trending on Twitter. Otherwise, I never know what’s trending on Twitter.

The talk show host was being mocked for declaring himself one of the Cuomosexuals in 2020.

“’Never let Trevor Noah forget this,’” the rightwing pundits proclaim when including “a 2020 video of Noah praising the governor for ‘crushing it the most right now’ when it came to his pandemic response…

“While Noah changed his tune since news of the sexual assault allegations and nursing home scandal broke, even posting a celebratory tweet following Cuomo’s resignation, conservatives want to ensure Twitter does not forget the late-night hosts’ initial take.”

Fascinating, he said, in his best Mr. Spock voice

My takeaway here is that, according to these folks, one is not allowed to have an opinion about someone, then to change one’s mind when new circumstances arise or when additional information becomes available.

OK, got it. That is plain stupid. We’re supposed to feel about, say, Bill Cosby in 2018 as we did in 1988?

Many people were comforted by Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings. They felt that he was attempting to tell them the truth about the coronavirus infection rates, and the latest science, even when it was not particularly good news. This was in drastic contrast with the daily briefings in DC when whatever things Drs. Birx and Fauci et al. said were often countermanded and undermined by their boss.

There were LOTS of Cuomosexuals all over the country, notably the parodist Randy Rainbow. This is explained well in this New Yorker article.

I was recently reading an issue of the magazine The Week from June 2021. The experts suggested that the decline of COVID-19 was on track. No, they did not predict the level of vaccine resistance nor the speed of the delta variant – those two factors being related – so that now mask-wearing indoors is recommended, even among the vaccinated like me.

Changing their minds

It’s also OK to change one’s mind. Back in 2007, Kathy Hochul – pronounced HO-kul – “while serving as the Erie County clerk… threatened to arrest undocumented immigrants who applied for driver’s licenses.” But in recent years, the future New York State governor has supported “the state’s so-called Green Light law.”

Even as President, Barack Obama evolved on the issue of marriage equality. Initially, he opposed same-gender marriage, but his position evolved.

As a person growing up in the church, I’ve seen the changing roles of women, laypersons, and others. The church I attend now only had male ushers, dressed in a certain way, when I was born.

Frankly, people who believe that God, whoever They may be, never changes, so that we need to be doing the same thing, regardless of the needs of the people, make me damn angry.

 

Five things I know about Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby. Matt Slocum AP
Bill Cosby. Matt Slocum AP

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the rape conviction of Bill Cosby, I heard his lawyers say a bunch of hooey. And, involuntarily, I yelled at the television.

There are five things I know about Cosby.

1) His comedy routines are still stuck in my head. As I wrote a little over a decade ago, he was an “iconic individual in my life.” I watched him in everything from I Spy to JELL-O pudding commercials.

2) He is a disappointingly awful excuse for a human being. Five dozen women have credibly accused Cosby of sexual assault. Using his considerable power and influence, he took advantage of his position to become a serial predator.

3) Nevertheless, the overturning of the conviction, on purely legal grounds, was correct, unfortunately. As Slate noted, “Don’t blame the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Blame prosecutor-turned–Trump lawyer Bruce Castor.”

As the Washington Post noted: “The crux of the ruling is this: Castor had said he had a deal with Cosby saying Cosby wouldn’t be charged criminally for the sexual assault claimed by Andrea Constand. Castor said he did so to prevent Cosby from pleading the Fifth Amendment in ongoing civil litigation.”

“The thrust of that opinion is that, even though then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor never reached a formal agreement with Cosby that granted him immunity from prosecution, a press release that Castor sent out in 2005 — combined with Cosby’s later, incriminating testimony in a civil lawsuit — had the same effect as a formal immunity deal.

A5

I resist the notion of suggesting, though, that Cosby was released “on a technicality.” Constitutional protection is not “a technicality.” The right not to incriminate oneself is not “a technicality.” If there had not been immunity in a civil case against prosecution in the criminal case, Cosby would never have elocuted his actions in the civil case.

4) Still, this is awful news. From the Guardian: “Victoria Valentino, who accused Cosby of assaulting her, told CNN that she was “absolutely shocked, stunned’ by the court’s decision. ‘It’s a gut-punch. What does it say about women’s words, a woman’s value, all the lives that he damaged? It’s outrageous. I’m infuriated,’ she said.

“Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represented many of Cosby’s accusers, said the decision must be ‘devastating’ for those women. ‘My heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified in both of his criminal cases,’ she said.”

“Like it or not, the decision to prosecute or not prosecute lies solely within the discretion of a district attorney and once he makes an agreement with a defendant, that agreement is a contract just like any other and when the defendant relies on that agreement, that is a binding contract,” Randy Zelin, who teaches at Cornell Law School, told USA TODAY.

He predicted the decision will have value as a precedent. “It means an oral agreement is sufficient to enforce a promise from a prosecutor,” Zelin said. “The good news is prosecutors are now on notice to be careful what they promise – and to put it in writing.”

Andrew Wyatt

5) Bill Cosby’s team should just shut up. Andrew Wyatt is the guy who complained about  Eddie Murphy’s joke on Saturday Night Live in 2019. Murphy said: “If you would’ve told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring, stay-at-home house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail — even I wouldn’t have taken that bet.” He then did an impression of Cosby saying, “Who’s America’s dad now?”

Upon Cosby’s release, Wyatt said. “This is a man who was railroaded, who was targeted because of a black man being America’s dad… On this hot day, this is a hot verdict for us that we will forever cherish because we got one of the greatest, or the greatest entertainer alive today, Mr. Bill Cosby, this great American citizen.” Wyatt claimed “vindication” in the rape case and a victory for black Americans. I’m not buying it. At all.

As Renée Graham in the Boston Globe noted: Black America deserves justice. Bill Cosby’s release from prison isn’t it. A powerful man escaping accountability doesn’t help Black people ensnared in an unjust legal system — or encourage sexual assault survivors to speak out.

Black America

“Cosby shows his disdain not only for sexual assault survivors but for the same Black America he spent years criticizing in speeches promoting respectability politics as he willfully ignored systemic racism as a blight on generations of Black people.”

Sidebar: the initial remarks by Cosby’s TV wife Phylicia Rashad is why I don’t tweet.

In summary, the opinion piece by Emma Gray of MSNBC speaks to me. “Processing [the] events requires us to hold many truths at once: I believe the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had legal reason to come to the conclusion that it did; I believe every person should be afforded due process; the criminal justice system is fallible and broken; I believe Bill Cosby is a sexual predator; I believe victims of sexual assault are routinely failed by the justice system and the culture as a whole.”

So no, I won’t be seeing him on a proposed comedy tour. Ever.

Death Cafe- drink tea, eat cake, discuss dying

What is the Meaning of Death?

At work, I took a question over the phone from one of our business advisors in the field, about a client wanting to become a funeral director. I asked the advisor if she was familiar with the Death Cafe, She was not.

“At a Death Cafe people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.”

While Death Café is not a grief support group, it does offer a safe space to openly discuss thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding dying and death. Death Cafés help us move toward being “a society that mindfully accepts dying and death as a part of everyday life.”

As I’ve mentioned, I had attended the first Death Cafe event in Albany in January 2018, and while I had not had a chance to go to subsequent talks, I have been following the local group on Facebook.

As my work colleague discovered, I’ve been fascinated by the issues surrounding death, going back to the passing of my paternal grandmother in 1964 and maternal great aunt in 1966.

I was also influenced by a now-infamous individual, Bill Cosby, who, in one of his routines, told us that when one dies, a person could be rigged up so that each time a mourner passes his open coffin he sits up and says, “Don’t I look like myself?” It’s funnier in context.

Cosby indirectly got me to read, when I was a young teenager, the landmark book The American Way of Death, “an exposé of abuses in the funeral home industry in the United States, written by Jessica Mitford and published in 1963.”

The next gathering of Death Cafe Albany will be at The Chapel at Albany Rural Cemetery on Saturday, September 29th from 1-2:30 pm. Please bring your own mug. Tea and cold water will be provided.

Here are some links from the Death Cafe Albany site on Facebook:

Photos of love and loss

What is the Meaning of Death? This Man Has Some Words to Share with You

Green funeral

Mom died early Friday the 13th….finally

The Funeral and Cemetery Law Blog

The Death Café phenomenon

And here are some grief-related resources that someone sent me to share:

Preparing for the Death of a Terminally-Ill Loved One: What to Expect, and How to Help the Entire Family Move Forward

Symptoms of Major Depression and Complicated Grief

Guidelines for Helping Grieving Children

Coping With The Stigma of Grieving an Overdose Death

Grief & the Loss of a Pet

Grief At Work: A Guide For Employees and Managers

For ABC Wednesday

Time’s Up: “Silence helps the tormentors”

“Neutrality helps the oppressors, not the oppressed.”

Jodi Kantor, New York Times
Beyond being gratified that the #MeToo/Time’s Up movement has come to pass, I have been fascinated how it seems to have really come together only in the past six months.

I’ve seen Jodi Kantor, one of the New York Times reporters along with Megan Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein story, several times on TV, usually on CBS This Morning but also on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And it was the Weinstein scandal, not only his reported illicit behavior but also the cover up, that unleashed the torrent of responses.

As Kantor has assessed the revolution: “My colleagues Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt had done the story about Bill O’Reilly, his long trail of settlements with women. That was a light bulb moment. Editors at the Times…ask[ed] the question, ‘Are there other prominent male figures in American life who have covered up serious problems with treatment of women?'”

And she sees how the momentum built. “You could make an argument that the women who came forward about [Bill] Cosby affected the women who came forward about the men at Fox News, who affected the women who came forward about President Trump, who affected the women who came forward about Silicon Valley, who affected the women who came forward about Harvey Weinstein,” who was less well known than the women who reported his actions.

A week after Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech – ““I want all the girls watching to know a new day is on the horizon” – she spoke to seven powerful Hollywood women for CBS Sunday Morning and explored how much pain some of them still have with their #MeToo experience.

Winfrey asked Reese Witherspoon, who had “spoken of being assaulted on one of her first movies, at age 16,” how speaking out has “led to a greater sense of empowerment and control over it?”

“Well, I don’t know if I’ve gotten to that place yet,” Witherspoon replied. “As you can see, I’m very emotional about it. But I keep going back to somebody sent me this Elie Wiesel quote that said, ‘Silence helps the tormentors, it doesn’t help the tormented. And neutrality helps the oppressors, not the oppressed.'”

America Ferrera had posted about an incident when she “was nine years old being assaulted by a man who I was then sort of forced to see afterwards for a long time. And what struck me about my experience was his certainty that I would be silent. And he was right. He was right for 24 years.”

TV producer Shonda Rhimes says what most of the women were saying: “At a certain point there has to be room for reconciliation in a world… But a lot of people don’t think that right now — and a lot of women have the right to not feel that right now.”

Men need to understand that when women have been aggrieved for a VERY long time – Ferrera put it well: “Speaking of this moment, as a culture we’ve gone from not listening, hearing or believing women, and how were we going to skip over the whole part where women get to be heard, and go straight to the redemption of the perpetrators? Can’t we live in that space where it’s okay for perpetrators to be a little bit uncomfortable with what the consequences will be?”

I suppose this kind of sucks for men. But the status quo for women has sucked far, far longer.

Jena Friedman on Conan O’Brien’s show

Cosby, Weinstein, Nassar, Moore, C.K., etc.

“You’re not the good guy here.”

Some random, still evolving thoughts: A friend of mine, a male, not so incidentally, wrote recently: “Don’t try to defend sex offenders just because you identify with them or like their work. Just don’t. Let their power and the difficulty in prosecuting them for their crimes keep them warm at night, not your ambivalent acquiescence to the horrors they have committed.”

This is, of course, the right and proper position to take. Yet I do understand how it can be a hard one to follow because it was difficult for me to believe the forerunner of the Mark Halperins/Kevin Spaceys, et al, could have been capable of the things he was accused of doing. That is, until woman after woman repeated the quite similar modus operandi of Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr., whose comedy routines I still remember.

Still, I had hoped, despite me labeling this as a rape culture four years ago, that the problem was not as toxic as it has turned out to be. As a clinical psychiatrist was discussing on one of the morning shows, this pattern of behavior isn’t about sex, it’s about power, tied up with shame and a sometimes perverse use of religion, religion.

While I find all the allegations troubling, some I find even worse than others. For sheer numbers of reported, Harvey Weinstein’s not only among the top predators, but he used an Israeli intelligence firm and contracting with a prestigious law firm to cover it up; both entities have since apologized.

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is just the latest gymnast to accuse the team doctor, Larry Nassar, of sexual assault, joining over 130 other women. “Nassar, who is now in jail, worked with the US women’s national gymnastics team for more than two decades. He pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, but did plead guilty to child pornography charges.”

The Roy Moore story is troubling, and infuriating. He is running to be a US Senator in Alabama in December. His defense is shaky and contradictory. Worse, some of his allies have concocted a response that, if he DID date teenagers when he was in his thirties and molested a 14-year-old, well, Joseph was much older than the Virgin Mary. WHAT? That doesn’t even make theological sense.

As Mark Evanier noted, at least Louis C.K. has accepted responsibility for his own sordid actions. “He not only said he did it, he seems to have even had a little actual understanding of why he did it and why it was wrong.” On the other hand, as someone once said to BoJack Horseman, “you’re not the good guy here.”

You know who needs to work on this issue? Members of Congress, who have been immune to many of the sexual harassment laws they’ve passed for others to follow.

There are SO many of these allegations, I cannot keep track. Cinefamily, an entity I had not heard of, recently shut down. And of course, these types of behavior take place all the time by people who are not famous.

Moore defends himself saying that if these events happened decades ago, why are they are coming out now? Because the individual victim, woman or man, is not usually believed, and it takes a tsunami of brave people speaking out for some others to risk saying MeToo.

For now, here’s Joyful Heart’s new PSA campaign, which “mirrors back the societal attitudes that have excused, minimized, and helped perpetuate violence against women and girls for so long. Enough”. Also, why do women make themselves attractive, which you should just read.