Warning – miscreant ahead: the Bill Cosby imbroglio

In a variation of the au courant “trigger warnings” spreading on college campuses, the National Museum of African Art, is warning people about Bill Cosby. The Museum, which is displaying art from the collection of Camille and Bill Cosby, said recently it would remove a sign crediting the Cosbys for the exhibit. Instead, the sign will be be replaced with one saying, “Warning- some of the art you are about to see was loaned by Bill Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.”

In this photo taken Nov. 6, 2014, entertainer Bill Cosby pauses during an interview about the upcoming exhibit, Conversations: African and African-American Artworks in Dialogue, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington. The Smithsonian Institution is mounting a major showcase of African-American art and African art together in a new exhibit featuring the extensive art collection of Bill and Camille Cosby. More than 60 rarely seen African-American artworks from the Cosby collection will join 100 pieces of African art at the National Museum of African Art. The exhibit “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue,” opens Sunday and will be on view through early 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Not really. The new sign will actually say the exhibition is “fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not Mr. Cosby.” But the intent is the same.

Are we entering a period when it is obligatory to warn audiences about moral transgressions committed by famous people?

Should the display of Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum include a sign saying, “Mr. Lindbergh, while a great aviator, was a serial adulterer who had multiple wives and children”?

Should showings of Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist be preceded by a warning, “Roman Polanski, the director of this film, raped a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and is currently a fugitive from justice”?

Should any event or show involving Mike Tyson include a warning, “Mike Tyson was convicted in Indiana of raping an 18-year-old college student and beauty pageant contestant.”

How about Woody Allen?


Should all his movies, including his newest, “Irrational Man”, begin with a bold statement, “In 1992, it was learned that Mr. Allen was in a relationship with 21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, his girlfriend of over 10 years. Ms. Farrow discovered the relationship when she found nude photos of Previn taken in Allen’s Manhattan duplex. Mr. Allen married Soon-yi in 1997 (ewww!)”

For that matter, should a sign go up everywhere former President Bill Clinton appears in public saying, “Mr. Clinton has been credibly accused of both rape and repeated sexual assaults, paid a former Arkansas state worker, Paula Jones, $850,000 in connection with an assault that occurred when he was governor of Arkansas, and had a sexual relationship with an intern while he was President?”

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Well, maybe the last one is worth considering.

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