With allegations coming out by the day against Bill Cosby, people are up in arms. Now before a single accusation is proved, action is being taken.
– NBC has dropped a planned sitcom.
– Cosby has been removed from a Christmas parade.\
– However Treasure Island Casino in Vegas says his stand up show will go on.
Commentators from the Daily Telegraph seem to be in agreement – you can’t allow him to perform.
When players in the NRL, AFL or NFL (in the USA) have allegations of indecency against them, people will argue about whether they should be stood down or even sacked from their job their day in court.
When accusations against Rolf Harris came out, there was an outcry to stand him down. Then when he was found guilty his home town of Bassendean voted to remove all his art from display. His acts were so abhorrent, they wanted nothing to do with his him or the works he had created.
Those these events reach the public spotlight, they are from private life. Yet the alleged offenders are punished professionally. Bill Cosby’s comedy has almost nothing to do with his treatment of women and a sports player’s ability to kick a goal has little to do with what he does in a nightclub. Are they punished for failing to be good role models? Or is it a blurring of the line between life and art?
Richard Wagner life-long horrible antisemitic views by enjoying his Operas. While people mumble and shake their heads about it, they turn up in droves to enjoy his work. Yet earlier this year a talented Opera Singer was sacked for sharing homophobic views. To be fair, a lot more time has passed for Wagner.
When you deny someone an opportunity because of a personal allegation, you make a strong positive moral statement. You’re also punishing them financially and professionally for something that was done outside of the scope of their career.
So how do we separate allegations from someone’s art?
At what point is an ‘allegation’ enough to take action against their career that impacts their lives and living?
Can we still enjoy someone’s art-work, comedy or try-scoring ability even if they turn out to be a criminal?