When the news broke about Bill Cosby drugging women, I kept trying to ignore what I was hearing. If it came on the television news I wouldn’t watch it. If I came across a news article online, I wouldn’t read it. How could it possibly be true? Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable would never do such a thing! Well, maybe Dr. Huxtable wouldn’t, but apparently, Mr. Cosby would.
By trying to ignore it, I was simply trying to make it go away. Hear no evil, see no evil. I’ll just bury my head in the sand and make it all disappear. But ignoring the facts didn’t make it any less true.
Then yesterday, amongst all of the press coverage of Haper Lee’s new novel releasing tomorrow I learned that yet another hero had fallen off his pedestal. If you haven’t heard or have no idea what I am talking about, you can read more about it here. In a nutshell, in Go Set a Watchman Atticus Finch has become a racist. This is incredibly unsettling for LOTS of reasons, but mostly because Atticus is one of the greatest fictional heroes of all time.
I pre-ordered my copy of Lee’s new book months ago. I wanted to be able to start reading it the day it was released. This was going to be history in the making and I was choosing to be an active part of it. I even considered re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird out of excitement for the new novel, but considering my huge to-read pile staring me in the face thought better of it.
I’ve seen the social media comments about the Atticus revelation. Shock. Disappointment. Dismay. Even anger. Many are now refusing to read the new novel. They don’t want to tarnish the original Atticus. They want to put their heads in the sand. Read no evil, see no evil. But refusing to read it isn’t going to change what’s been written. It’s already out there. Harper Lee wrote the words and created the character and our choosing to not read the book will do nothing to change the facts.
And sometimes the facts can hurt. Atticus is a racist. Mr. Cosby is a rapist. It pained me just to type those two sentences. I don’t want to believe any of it. They are supposed to be heroes. Luckily, Atticus is only a work of fiction. For all of those women he rapped, Mr. Cosby, unfortunately, is not.
I will read the book when it arrives in my mailbox tomorrow. I’m sure it will be upsetting at times but in the end, it’s just a novel. I’m not reading about a real person. I might have loved the character and what he stood for in Mockingbird, but he’s still only a character in a book (all be it one of the greatest and most beloved fictional characters ever.)
A few years ago I bought the complete series of “The Cosby Show.” I loved that show and, honestly, will continue to love that show because, like the novel, is only a work of fiction. I won’t deny that the shows will probably be hard to watch. So much of the man and the character are blended together. I might not be able to get through even one episode without Cosby’s despicable acts clouding my enjoyment. And that really, REALLY pisses me off.
All I know is this: neither of these men are REAL heroes. I have met real heroes. Heroes that serve our country in the most selfless ways. Heroes that leave their families for months and months at a time, putting themselves in harms way in the most dangerous parts of the world.
These individuals are REAL heroes. The heroes that deserve our time, our attention, our tweets, our blog posts.