Bill Cosby Deserves His Punishment, But We Can't Ignore His Legacy

The sentencing for Bill Cosby’s crimes of drugging and raping Andrea Constand is finally here: the sexual predator will serve 3-10 years in prison.

Cosby will most likely not serve the entire sentence. I can’t image he’ll stay in prison longer than 18 months before getting let out on “good behavior.”

The man got off easy. Our justice system is deeply flawed and due to statutes of limitations, he can only be tried for his crimes against a single woman. As for the other dozens of women, they can only live vicariously through her.

Since the sentencing, many have called for Cosby’s star on the Walk of Fame to be removed. But the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has already squashed the petition. The group released the following statement on Tuesday:

“The stars only commemorate the recipient’s professional accomplishments…Once installed, the stars become part of the historic fabric of the Walk of Fame … and are intended to be permanent. It is regrettable when the personal lives of inductees do not measure up to public standards and expectations; however, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce does not remove stars from the Walk of Fame.”

The second half of the statement — that stars cannot be removed from the Walk of Fame — is an absurd policy. Receiving a star is not an honor that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce bestows, but rather a vanity symbol that stars pay for (yes, you read that correctly — stars must pay for their own star). So to act like the Walk of Fame is, in their own words, a “historical record of entertainment figures past and present,” is a false representation at best. At worst, it’s a ploy to protest their precious tourist attraction.

But their first statement — that the stars represent the professional, not personal, achievements — well, that may hold a smidgen of merit.

Cosby has done horrible and despicable violent crimes against women that went on for decades. He’s a serial rapist who deserves to be shunned from society and put in jail. But the truth is that we cannot ignore what he and The Cosby Show did for black Americans in the media.


The Cosby Show brought a highly relatable, educated black family into all of our homes. Cliff Huxtable was the perfect husband, father, and OBGYN. He taught Theo the importance of handling your money in the most hilarious way possible and made Rudy laugh uncontrollably. And while all this was happening, he was abusing women. The irony of ironies.

Cosby’s despicable actions in real life have forever tainted the pure innocence of The Cosby Show. And while the current generation will most likely never watch The Cosby Show again, that doesn’t change everything that the show did at the time.

It’s because of The Cosby Show that we were able to get gems like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Bernie Mac Show, and even Black-ish. And do you think Issa Rae would have gotten Insecure on HBO without The Cosby Show setting the stage?

I’d like to think we would have gotten to this point in TV regardless. But Cosby accelerated progress for how white Americans viewed black families and that’s simply not an advancement we can ignore.

To be clear, I am not advocating that Cosby should get to keep his star on the Walk of Fame because of something good he did 30 years ago.

But doing something absolutely horrible doesn’t automatically negate something positive someone has done, as much as we’d like it to.

We love to paint celebrities as either good or evil. We can’t accept them as complex human beings because that would be admitting that they were human to begin with.

Bill Cosby is a horrible human who both raped women and also made great advancements for black Americans in the media. Taking away his star on the Walk of Fame wouldn’t and couldn’t erase that.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.