Looking back at 2015, we know about the violence, random shootings, reports of excessive force by police and chaotic weather. But some of the stories from the past year are just bizarre.
Veteran actor and comedian Bill Cosby is one example. I heard about Cosby’s alleged indiscretions with women dating back to the 1980s. But you always heard these rumors about celebrities. Sometimes you hear rumors about a person that would not be associated with such behavior. Our first thought is to dismiss these rumors.
Cosby was a funny comedian whose star began to shine after appearances on variety shows in the early 1960s. He unique humor was not In jokes. He was funny because he told stories that many people could relate to. The stories were filled with humor based on his childhood growing up in Philadelphia.
He subsequently recorded well-received comedy albums and starred in the TV show I Spy and later the first version of the Bill Cosby Show in which he played a physical education teacher. The Bill Cosby Show of the 1980s is what most people remember. He played a doctor raising an affluent African-American family.
The show was successful because it did not depend on the typical stereotypes of blacks. The stories were about an American family who happened to be black. The humorous and poignant storylines anyone could relate to. Cosby was viewed as a role model for portraying blacks as more than thugs or junkies.
He continued to do standup with frequent appearances on David Letterman. Even when some women went public about Cosby allegedly assaulting them after he gave them drugs, most people did not want to believe it. Many blacks initially went to his defense, implying racism in that some people want to tear down the image of a black American icon.
While some reports about Cosby continued, it was not until a comedy routine by emerging comic Hannibal Buress in 2014 began appearing on YouTube and went viral. Buress essentially was satirizing the reports surrounding Cosby. Little did he know that it would create a movement. Women who did not know each other began speaking out about being drugged by Cosby and later assaulted. Some of them did not remember the alleged assault but knew something was wrong when they finally awakened. Other women said they remembered being assaulted but they could not physically prevent it due to the drugs.
Now Cosby has been charged with criminal sexual assault on Dec. 30 from a woman who worked with the Temple University men’s basketball team and looked at Cosby, who graduated from Temple, as a mentor. Andrea Constand said she was assaulted in 2004 at Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home. Cosby was charged because time was almost up to arraign him for this particular alleged assault.
Cosby has been charged and will have his day in court. You want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt but when close to 60 women have reported similar incidents happening to them by Cosby, what other conclusion can you come up with? One thing is for certain is the career of Cosby, 78, is over.
Then we have the strange case of Joe Gliniewicz. This is the police officer from Fox Lake who was revered in the community. The 52-year-old officer called police after he said he saw three suspicious male individuals – two white and one black – and he was going to check on it. Minutes later after hearing gunshots, police found the body of Gliniewicz.
Recent reports have indicated that one of the police officers even suggested that it looked like Gliniewicz committed suicide. Another officer on the scene ruled that out immediately, stating there was no way Gliniewicz would commit suicide.
Giniewicz was buried with honors as first responders arrived from across the country for the funeral. The man known as “GI Joe” was later found to be looting his voyagers program that taught youngsters about police work. Gliniewicz reportedly knew that a new administrator was aware that he was taking cash from the program. Gliniewicz reportedly staged his own death to make it looked like he was murdered.
But the rumors began to start circulating a month after his death. The local police, after a long delay, finally admitted what we all know now. Gliniewicz was far from being a hero. He was also accused of sexual assault and drinking on duty.
The cases of Cosby and Gliniewicz highlighted a strange year. The lesson here is not to assume anything. The image we see on the surface may be covering up some dark secrets.