In today’s Wall Street Journal “Sightings” column, I consider a new development in the ongoing shunning of Bill Cosby and James Levine. Here’s an excerpt.
* * *
In the wake of Bill Cosby’s conviction on three counts of sexual assault, the board of trustees of the Kennedy Center has voted to rescind his 1998 Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts, as well as his 2009 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. A written statement explained the decision as follows: “The Board concluded that [Cosby’s] actions have overshadowed the very career accomplishments these distinctions…intend to recognize.”
I can’t say I’m surprised, any more than I am by the fast-growing list of colleges and universities that have shredded the honorary degrees they previously conferred upon Mr. Cosby. He was already well on the way to becoming a cultural unperson when the Kennedy Center joined Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame and Yale, among many others, in the #MeToo-triggered pile-on….
It’s worth pointing out, however, that the Kennedy Center, the Motion Picture Academy and Yale were deliriously happy to ride on the capacious coattails of Mr. Cosby’s celebrity once upon a time. Yale went so far as to confer an honorary doctorate of “humane letters” upon him in 2003 for his “contributions to society.” We are now invited to suppose that those contributions have lost all meaning in light of the revelations about the viciousness of his sex life….
Meanwhile, Met Opera Radio, the Metropolitan Opera’s Sirius XM satellite radio channel, has admitted that it is no longer broadcasting live recordings conducted by James Levine, who performed at the Met from 1971 until last December, when he was suspended and subsequently fired…
I won’t lose any sleep over the twin descents of Messrs. Cosby and Levine into the dark pit of disgrace. But there’s a difference—a huge one—between shunning such men and rewriting the history of which they are a prominent part….
* * *
Read the whole thing here.
Bill Cosby performs an excerpt from his nightclub routine on The Jack Paar Show. This episode was originally telecast by NBC on October 4, 1963: