Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Death, Rape, Lies, Torture, Truth, and the American Way

There are certain things in this politically correct world that you can no longer say. For example, even if quoting someone, it is improper to use the “n” word. (As you can see, we did not use the “n” word). It is also forbidden to analogize anything to the Holocaust. And to compare any event to a rape other than a rape is tantamount to heresy. So, with this backdrop, we will tread lightly and through this article attempt not to make those politically incorrect faux pas.

Bill Cosby has been under fire from over 20 women who have come out and accused him of rape, some going back over 30 years. Mr. Cosby has denied these allegations through his attorneys and most likely, these allegations will never be proven out in a court of law. However, in the court of public opinion, Mr. Cosby has already lost.

When asked why these women were now coming out and telling their tales, a number of them have expressed that it is not for monetary gain, but rather for other reasons. Some have said that it is a catharsis of them finally getting this burden off of their shoulders. Others have stated that the shame that it is bringing to Bill Cosby and the hurt that he is finally feeling brings them satisfaction for the hurt that he caused them throughout the years. Others have even explained that coming out and making these statements will mean that Bill Cosby and others like him will now know that they have no shield of invincibility through their fame and fortune and possibly it will stop others from acting this way in the future. Each one of these, including monetary compensation, which is not being sought, is a proper motivation and one that should not be subjected to attack. If these allegations are in fact true, each one of these motivations has merit in and of itself and collectively more than justify, but even mandate, the actions that these women have taken.

At the same time that this has been going on, there has been the backlash to the numerous shootings and killings of black men and in some cases children, by police. Certainly the catalyst to this backlash was the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the strangulation of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. Since these events we have learned that in approximately the last 180 deaths of individuals by police officers in New York City, only one officer actually was convicted. We have learned that of the last 150 deaths by the hands of the FBI of suspects, that in all occasions, the FBI determined that those shootings were justified. We have learned that by and large, actions of law enforcement in deaths of civilians have been found to be justified by whatever body ultimately makes that decision. Lastly, we have learned that a disproportionate amount of these deaths are of people who are not white.

And while the Cosby victims have been speaking out, and while this country is being torn by the inordinate amount of suspects and detainees dying at the hands of police, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the CIA’s torturing of prisoners from 2002 to 2008. Although a very few have criticized the report as being inaccurate and overblown, most of the criticism of the report has come in other fashion. There are those who claim that by and large, this is old news and therefore, why did it need to be rehashed? There are others that claim that the report will incite repercussions around the world against the United States, its Embassies and its military. Others have chimed in that it simply makes us look bad and of course, there are those who claim that the ends justify the means and that valuable intelligence was gathered, be damned with the method.

In the same manner that the women raped by Bill Cosby needed to come forward, so did this report. Although we were not raped like these women were, we were taken advantage of by elected officials who waived the American flag and told us that we were good and that we did not do evil. We were lied to that we were not committing torture, and those that spoke out and said that we were, were branded as Un-American. George W. Bush got in front of the cameras and categorically stated, “America does not torture”. But like the revelations by Bill Cosby’s victims, this report is also a catharsis for us as Americans, who believe that we should not be lied to by our Government.

Like the revelations of who Bill Cosby really was, so does this report truly reveal to us who we were as a country and what we had become. Any argument that those were trying times, that we got valuable information by using these tactics, that the people who did these acts for us are heros, that we prevented future terrorist attacks by these actions and any other host of myriad excuses must be dismissed immediately for one simple reason. Throughout the course of human history, every entity, every Government, every military force and every intelligence agency, has always used those exact same excuses for their excess behavior. Because we are Americans does not give us the right to use that excuse when others cannot. In fact, because we are Americans and supposedly stand for the moral high ground, it gives us less excuse to use those tactics than others have.

Just as in the Cosby revelations, these revelations may have the benefit of preventing our Government and future Governments from acting in this manner. It might just give pause to some CIA official or government bureaucrat from authorizing this behavior next time. It might just cause us to act the way we pretend to be as a country.

Every child of our generation grew up knowing that famous slogan, “Truth, Justice and the American Way”. To us it really meant something. To us, we believed that America stood for truth. That American stood for justice, and that the American Way was truth and justice. In that vein, we are learning through the Cosby revelations that justice may be slow, and it may take some twists and turns, but justice, even if it is only in the court of public opinion, eventually prevails. Through the Ferguson and New York killings that lead to protests, we are also learning the truth about us. We are more racially divided than we thought. Those of color live in fear of police and quite candidly, police live in fear of those with color. We have learned that justice and the American way are something that not all Americans believe that they receive and especially those with darker skin. And we have learned that we, as our country, hold ourselves up as examples of good, truth and justice, but sometimes we are no better than the rest and our hypocrisy makes us look worse.

If the revelations about Bill Cosby had not come out, if the revelations of us being such a divided country based upon racial lines did not come out, and if the report on the CIA’s torture did not come out, it would not mean that these events did not take place. If these revelations did not come out, all it would mean would be these types of behaviors would be allowed to go on without scrutiny and without being challenged. However, these revelations will bring a change to this country. Some will think it will be good and others think it will be bad. Yet, one thing is for sure. That only in a country that has a First Amendment that is as strong as ours, could these revelations truly come forward in the manner that they have. And for that, no matter what, we still need to be proud that we are Americans.

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