Heathcliff Huxtable is dead

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“Power tends to corrupt – and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 
~Sir John Dalberg-Acton
 
It’s true that we should all be presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, once that guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt, all that remains is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The truth is... Heathcliff Huxtable is dead. The long, sordid, sexual excesses of William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. effectively buried him alive.
 
In case you’ve forgotten, Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable was the main character of “The Cosby Show” – NBC’s groundbreaking 1980’s sitcom. The show – which ran from 1984 until 1992 – depicted the Huxtable family, an upper middle-class African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York.
 
Commercially, the show was a smash hit globally. It almost singlehandedly saved the entire sitcom genre. “The Cosby Show” lifted NBC from third (last) place to first place among the then-three major networks. The show’s smashing success paved the way for all TV networks to air other shows centered upon black families. On-camera and off, Bill Cosby was an example American exceptionalism at its best in that he came from nothing and made himself something special.
 
Culturally, “The Cosby Show” was the epitome of must-see TV. Everyone discussed Thursday’s night episode on Friday morning – be it at the office water cooler, the hallway of your school, or on the phone with friends. Dr. Huxtable was America’s dad. He was universally loved because [1] he reminded you of your own father; [2] if you didn’t have a father, Dr. Huxtable was the father you wish you could have had; and/or [3] he was an awesome blend of a successful professional, loving father, doting husband, faithful friend, and dutiful son. Everybody loved “The Cosby Show” – both genders, all races, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all walks of life, every political party, and all ages. Make no mistake: Heathcliff Huxtable and Bill Cosby were one and the same. They were virtually indistinguishable.
 
Intellectually, “The Cosby Show” itself was based on Cosby’s life. The actors portraying the Huxtable children were chosen because of their ability to convey the personalities and quirkiness of their real-life counterparts. Actress Phylicia Rashād was chosen to be the avatar for Camille O. Cosby – Cosby’s longtime wife and business manager.
 
Professionally, Bill Cosby routinely made history. He was the first black actor to be featured in a starring role of a weekly dramatic television series when “I Spy” was broadcast by NBC in 1965. At the time, NBC affiliate stations in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida refused to air “I Spy” because of Cosby’s role in the espionage-themed TV show. Cosby performed stand-up routines to sold-out audiences wherever he went. He recorded musical albums as a vocalist for years. Cosby’s version of “Little Ole Man (Uptight, Everything's Alright)” sold over one million copies in the US – and reached number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. He owned his own record label, Tetragrammaton Records. Cosby founded the CSC (Campbell, Silver, Cosby) Corporation – the Los Angeles-based production company which produced the Saturday morning “Fat Albert” cartoons, motion pictures, and other television shows.
 
Financially, Cosby has earned hundreds of millions of dollars. He was once a celebrity endorser extraordinaire. He was won countless awards in entertainment. Cosby was awarded a presidential medal of freedom. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He’s one of the most famous people on earth. You would think that all of Cosby’s success, acclaim, and wealth would make him a content man. He was, just not the way you’d expect. Not the way you’d accept.
 
In the last year or so, dozens of women have come forth to share harrowing tales about Cosby. Theirs were not testimonies of his benevolence or charity or business acumen. Their stories were rather about manipulation, victimization, being drugged, raped, molested, and otherwise violated. Cosby has stated that he merely used his fame and fortune (and tranquilizing drugs) to seduce women. Seduce - not rape. He thought their no invariably meant yes. And he acted accordingly. Their accusations against Bill Cosby – an entertainer so iconic, so beloved, and so powerful – largely fell on deaf ears. Many people didn’t believe those women because they couldn’t fathom Bill Cosby/Heathcliff Huxtable doing such heinous things. 
 
Legally, Cosby knew this quite well. He used his status as America’s Favorite Dad to employ the O.J. Simpson legal rabbithole: use vast wealth to hire a legal team big enough, skilled enough, and cutthroat enough to secure the freedom to keep doing his dirt. No man should ever have conducted himself in such a way - especially not a married man. Certainly not a man with daughters of his own.
 
Truly innocent people do not voluntarily pay out six and seven-figure settlements armed with airtight confidentiality agreements to their accusers. Cosby has done so for decades.
 
The New York Times recently obtained a nearly 1,000-page transcript of Cosby’s 2005 deposition in a sexual assault claim. In that transcript, Cosby came clean in his own words. Subsequently, his guilt is as clear as his contempt for – and objectification of – women.
 
This maker of history… is now himself history. His career is in ruins. What goes around, comes around. Why, Mr. Cosby? Why did you do this?
 
Even Cosby’s biggest fans must admit this. Heathcliff Huxtable is dead. Perhaps he never truly existed at all. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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