After being publicly accused of sexual assault by more than fifty women stretching back decades, serial rapist Bill Cosby has finally been sentenced to three to ten years in state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a female acquaintance at his Philadelphia home in 2004. The judge rejected Cosby’s requests for house arrest and for being released on bail while his attorneys appealed the conviction, designating him a “sexually violent predator” after hearing testimony from Cosby’s victims during the trial.
So that’s settled now. Anyone who was still in denial that America’s favorite dad likes to rape women can go ahead and place that flag in the fireplace once and for all, which honestly they should have done back in 2014 when a viral Hannibal Buress video got people researching the fact that Google is full of stories lost at the bottom of the news churn barrel in which women have accused Cosby of rape over the years. People should have seen Cosby for what he is then, not just for the sheer number of accusations, but for the fact that they were being leveled at a man who has been openly joking about drugging women to get sex since the 1960s.
Cosby has a bit in his 1969 stand-up album It’s True! It’s True! which he repeated for decades afterward, in which he jokes about an urban legend that if you slip something called “Spanish fly” into a woman’s drink she’ll give you all the sex you want, and talks about his attempts to find some. The audience thought it was hilarious. His 1986 biographer called the bit “mild”. In 1991 Cosby still thought it was funny enough to bring up in an interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, during which the following exchange took place:
COSBY: There’s a thing about Spanish Fly. Do you know anything about Spanish Fly?
KING: When we were kids we used to-
COSBY: There you go. There you go. That’s all. I just wanted the recognition.
COSBY: Spanish Fly.
KING: We knew what it was.
COSBY: Spanish Fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to death — We will still be searching for Spanish Fly.
KING: [laughs] That’s right.
COSBY: And what was the old- The old story was, if you took a little drop — It was on the head of a-
COSBY: -pin! And you put it in a drink-
KING: That’s right. Drop it in her Coca-cola — It don’t matter.
COSBY: It doesn’t make any difference. And the girl would drink it and-
KING: And she’s yours.
COSBY: -‘Hello, America!’ And there’s a story in there about Spanish Fly. So I think that everybody — any guy picking it up will just have a ball reading about that.
I get a lot of men whining at me whenever I say the words “rape culture”, but I don’t really know what else to call this sort of thing. A man is applauded for joking about sneaking substances into a woman’s drink which rob her of her sexual sovereignty, is catapulted into the highest echelons of fame, is seen decades later yukking it up with the nation’s most prominent interviewer about that same subject, and nothing is done about it until much, much later when he’s dragged to court and convicted at the age of 81 for actually drugging and assaulting a woman. That wasn’t a dynamic involving one man operating in isolation. He was uplifted by a society whose culture permitted and enabled such an attitude toward women’s sexual sovereignty.
I bring up rape culture from time to time not just because it’s an inherently toxic dynamic which destroys lives and has impacted me personally, but because I see it as inseparable from the constant transgressions of powerful people who seek to undermine the sovereignty of entire populations and nations. I truly believe that if our culture had a better understanding of what sovereignty is and how it works, everyone from serial rapists to imperialists to mass media propagandists would lose the societal framework in which they operate.
Power, when you get right down to it, is ultimately about control. The ability to control other human beings and decide what happens to them. The more control you have over human lives, the more power you have. Some exert totalitarian control over their spouse and their children, and within their homes they are all-powerful. Some exert control over entire groups of nations, and have the power of life and death over entire populations. Those individuals are the most powerful people in the world.
But in order to have control over another person, you must necessarily violate their personal sovereignty. You must find a way to get your will to override their own will for their own lives in order to control them, be it by physical force, legal compulsion, psychological manipulation, or rape drugs. This is why power-facilitating narratives advanced by governments, religions, education/indoctrination systems, and mass media outlets have aways explained to their audiences why it is in their best interest to subvert their personal sovereignty over their lives, their bodies, their reproductive systems, and their minds.
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) September 24, 2018
President Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton is a PNAC founder, a lead architect of the Iraq invasion, and once threatened to murder a diplomat’s sons for standing in the way of the rape of Iraq. He is the neocon’s neocon, and his respect for both national and personal sovereignty is so nonexistent that I would not be the slightest bit surprised to learn that he has raped his wife or anyone else. Sovereignty is such a non-thing in Bolton’s reality tunnel that he recently claimed that Russia giving Syria air defense systems to defend its own airspace “would be a significant escalation by the Russians,” and added that US troops are going to remain in Syria “as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.”
To be clear, the US military is in Syria without the permission of the Syrian government, while the Iranian military and its so-called proxies are there at the invitation of the Syrian government to help combat the terrorist forces which have overrun the nation with the help of the US-centralized empire. Bolton is the kind of guy that crashes your party uninvited, drinks all the punch and knocks over the snack table, and when your boyfriend asks him to leave, he tells you he’s not leaving until your boyfriend leaves first. That’s essentially what he’s saying.
The gall it takes to say that your military will continue illegally occupying a sovereign nation for as long as its allies continue to do the thing that allies do is such a grotesque perversion of the concept of sovereignty that if more Americans had a better understanding of that concept John Bolton would have caused national outrage by saying it. But of course he didn’t, because they don’t. It’s just assumed that America is entitled to decide what sovereign nations do with their own allies, and that it is allowed to invade and occupy their land to force them to comply.
”Iran treats Iraq like it’s not an independent nation. Iran sees Iraq as a transit point for weapons and a training ground for its proxies. Iran seeks to keep Iraq economically weak. Why? Because Iran wants to use a weak Iraq to illicitly fund its terrorist activities.” pic.twitter.com/yDtxIUIAed
— US Mission to the UN (@USUN) September 20, 2018
The worst part was that time in 2003 when Iran invaded Iraq, killed a million people and destabilized the entire region, which they manufactured consent for by lying to the public about weapons of mass destruction. We all remember Iran doing that, right?https://t.co/yS1biDRY6B
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) September 21, 2018
Americans accept this gross violation of sovereignty because they have been propagandized to accept it by the mass media machine which spends all day every day manufacturing support for the agendas of those who control the most humans. But this is a violation of Americans’ mental sovereignty, in exactly the same way slipping a rape drug into a woman’s drink is a violation of her sexual sovereignty. Just as Bill Cosby made it his life’s mission to try and manufacture the illusion of sexual consent from women using rape drugs, the most powerful people in the world have been using the mass media to try and manufacture the illusion of consent for their agendas of war, oppression and ecocide.
It is not America’s place to tell Syria and Iran what they’re allowed to do inside one another’s borders any more than it’s the government’s place to tell a woman what she can and cannot do inside her own body, whether that be having sex with whom she pleases or having an abortion if she decides that’s in her best interest. It is not the plutocrats’ place to slip manipulative narratives into the minds of the masses any more than it was Bill Cosby’s place to slip rape drugs into a woman’s drink. It is not America’s place to invade a sovereign nation and occupy its land to force it to obey its commands any more than it was Bill Cosby’s place to insert his penis into a drugged woman.
Power depends on systematic and relentless violations of sovereignty in myriad forms around the world, which is why powerful people act like such disgusting, rapey creeps all the time. In a healthy world, which I firmly believe we can create, a deep understanding of sovereignty in all its forms will replace this toxic dynamic in which the rapey fingers of power are constantly inserting themselves into lives, minds and nations in order to dominate and control them. In such a society, everything from rape to imperialism to propaganda will stand out like a black fly on a white sheet of paper and be expelled like a pathogen by a healthy immune system.