“Through failure, we learn a lesson in humility which is probably needed, painful though it is,” informed Bill W. The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous here offers a lesson to three other Bills periodically in the news for the wrong reasons.
This tale of three Bills, told in the spirit of anonymity offered by Bill W’s organization, highlights the selective indignation that greets public figures accused of gross misconduct—with an emphasis on gross—when race or politics intrude upon issues involving sex.
Bill C, a sitcom paterfamilias, pitchman for frozen treats, and familiar face on children’s programming whose identity I shield, faces a trial later this year for the sexual abuse of a woman. For four decades, he allegedly drugged women before engaging in intercourse with them. More than fifty women accuse him of sexual misconduct of various sorts, including rape.
After numerous women came forward offering similar stories of Bill C’s predatory behavior, numerous women came forward to defend him.
“A black man in office is SCARY to white folk, and they will try and do ANY AND EVERYTHING to remind us that they are in control,” singer Azealia Banks tweeted, adding that “from police murders, to macklemore and igloo australia…. They are even trying to tear down our father figure BILL [C].”
Whoopi Goldberg initially reacted the accusations against Bill C by stating that “you are still innocent until proven guilty” and that “he has not been proven a rapist.”
A second Bill C, whom we shall call Bill JC to both protect his identity and distinguish him from the first Bill C, once held a powerful political office in the United States. One employee said Bill JC groped her. One woman claimed he lured her to a hotel room only to expose his member and issue the command, “Kiss it.” Another woman maintained that Bill JC similarly lured her to his hotel room, only to rape her and draw blood by biting her lip in the process.
Whoopi Goldberg, who defended Bill C, applied the word “bitch” to Bill JC’s accusers and characterized them as “lucky” that the accused’s wife remained “polite” in their presence. Perhaps in her mind she intended those words for women who partook in consensual affairs with the married man. But, in numerous instances, including several of the subjects of Goldberg’s discussion, the women targeted by the unnamed government official claim that they did not give consent.
Bill O, a veteran broadcaster, strangely earned the ire from Ms. Goldberg that Bill C and Bill JC escaped.
“Given who is in the White House,” she posited last week, “is it surprising that this behavior has gotten a pass?”
Nobody accuses Bill O of raping, drugging, or biting the lips of women. He allegedly grunted, leered, and called an African-American co-worker “hot chocolate.” One former guest on his former program claims he invited her out to dinner under the guise of advancing her career but revealed his true agenda by trying to lead her to his hotel room. He even closed a segment on his broadcast by telling two yellow-haired women, “Thank you very much for your blondeness.”
Perhaps Bill O, using his powerful public position to advance powerful private impulses, required the heavy dose of the humility that Bill W referenced. But as far as Bills go, his misdeeds look relatively trivial (if absolutely fire-able).
“If you’re pissed at one, you got to be pissed everybody,” Whoopi Goldberg explained in discussing the Donald Trump-Billy Bush controversy in connection to Bill O. “You’ve got to be pissed at all of it. You can’t be selective.”
Indeed. But even when comparing instances of workplace misconduct with the vilest crimes, the former elicit more ink and outrage than the latter when it flatters a wider agenda. This mindset, really an anti-mindset, reduces the victims to tools serving a cause. They’re people, a lesson lost on their predators, pursuers, and ostensible defenders.
Some Bills are more equal than others.