Women's Issues

You’re Going to Want to Scream After Reading These Jill Scott Tweets About Bill Cosby

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cosby and jill scottNo, Jill Scott. Please, no. The actress and singer has gone on Twitter and declared her support for Bill Cosby and her disdain for his accusers, forcing me to put on my “Who Is Jill Scott” CD and cry hot, salty tears.

Scott, a graduate of Temple University, began her Twitter tirade last week when one of her followers sent her a link to a petition asking Temple to sever its relationship with Cosby. Cosby received his master’s and doctorate degrees in education from the university, and had been on their Board of Trustees for 32 years until resigning yesterday.

In response to the petition, Scott tweeted:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.21.56 PMFirst of all, these are not “alleged allegations,” these are actual allegations. In the words of the great Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Second, is Scott saying that someone who has been accused of rape by multiple women doesn’t deserve to be punished by institutions that he acts as a representative for? Scott isn’t new to the publicity game — the idea that Temple wouldn’t want to be associated with Cosby after this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

She also retweeted this tweet, comparing the Cosby case to Michael Jackson’s:

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Way to go, Scott. Thanks for placing doubt on both women and children who claim to have been sexually assaulted. You’re doing the Lord’s work, here.

The fact that someone is famous and beloved does not mean that they aren’t also a child molester or a rapist. And we want victims of those people to come forward, don’t we? Because reactions like this are what keep people from reporting crimes for twenty years. Because they don’t think anyone will believe that “America’s Favorite Dad” could also be a man who drugs and rapes women.

I worked with survivors of domestic violence for many years, and I can tell you that most abusers are the most charming bastards you’ll ever meet. And how many times have you heard people say, “Yup. I figured that guy had a murder room in his basement,” when their neighbor is discovered to be a serial killer? Without a doubt, it was Cosby’s reputation and charm that got these women into the room with him in the first place. The fact that people know him and love him is part of what enabled his behavior.

But the most offensive part of Scott’s tweets is her demand for “proof”:

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I can empathize with Scott, because I think most of us can imagine reacting the same way if someone that we cared about and respected was similarly accused. But there is a difference between saying, “Bill Cosby is a long time friend of mine. I love him and support him,” and saying, “Where’s the proof?!” When you do that, you turn it from a show of support for a man you care about to a show of disdain for his accusers. That’s not necessary and, as a public figure, it’s also irresponsible.

To underline that point, here is Scott’s tweet from yesterday:

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This is victim-blaming, pure and simple. Scott is trying to show that she is not pro-rape (something I don’t think anyone would accuse her of) by telling survivors how to behave if they want to be believed. With those capitalized words, “GET EVIDENCE,” Scott is telling victims that no one is going to believe them unless they have proof. She is laying all of the responsibility on the back of the victim, and telling anyone who doesn’t walk away from a gang rape ready to get their legal ducks in a row that it is their fault if there’s no case.

That’s not okay.

If someone we love is accused of something as heinous as sexual assault, it is our right to support them if we wish. It is not our right to attack their accusers. Because Jill Scott isn’t just talking to the three women who have come forward against Cosby, she is addressing victims everywhere.

(Photo: Twitter)