Cosby nephew's absurd Bible defense: Critics are "casting stones"

The comic's nephew speaks out -- and gets it all wrong

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Published November 26, 2014 2:56PM (EST)
  (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

It stands to reason that a member of Bill Cosby's family would support the comic's continued denials of the multiple accusations of sexual assault against him. That the family member in question, nephew Braxton Cosby, also is the CEO of Cosby Media Productions, gives him additional incentive for presenting the Cosby image as untarnished. But there's got to be a better way to express your support.

Speaking this week to, the younger Cosby found a sympathetic venue, responding to observations like, "Some would describe the attack on your uncle as a modern day media lynching." He replied, "I would be more inclined to compare it to the passage in the Bible where the people of the village were about to stone the woman caught in adultery and Jesus challenged them by saying that the person who was without sin should cast the first stone. The one difference in this case being that the woman was caught in the act and her accusers brought her forward." I'll grant you it's better than the "lynching" claim, but that's still a doozy of a metaphor. And he adds, "Now more than ever before, we need content and messaging that is positive, uplifting and inspirational… I feel that the goal here was to destroy the attempts to instill that type of entertainment going into the next year. Thankfully, it will not succeed." Yes, it's all been an elaborate plot to shut down inspirational content.

Braxton Cosby asserts that "Everyone is innocent until proven guilty," and if he'd left it that, it wouldn't be so bad. Sure, the sheer number of women who tell remarkably consistent and similar stories is a bit challenging to contradict against the word of one man. The former network employee who says he paid off women is certainly interesting. But to liken Cosby's case to that of a biblical woman caught in the act of adultery is a strange choice. For starters, it takes what Cosby has been accused of – rape – and puts it on a level of adultery instead of assault. It pointedly casts Cosby in the role of victim, as the woman whose life is in danger. And if you're looking for parallels, you might want to stick to stories in which the person accused of the sin did not in fact commit it. Worse, Braxton Cosby trots out the old "casting the first stone" axiom, which is exactly the way the justice system doesn't work. He implies, as conversations about sexual assault so often do, that in order to speak out, one must have a spotless personal record -- or at least a personal record that jibes with a convenient narrative. But there is a world of difference between what Mr. Cosby apparently deems hypocrisy and understanding that, no, you don't have to be perfect to ask very serious questions about a man's behavior over the span of nearly 50 years. You can just go right ahead and ask, whoever you are and regardless of your own past. And that's your positive, uplifting message for the day.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Bill Cosby Braxton Cosby Rape Rape Culture