Navy Strips Bill Cosby of Honorary Rank

The Navy has stripped Navy veteran Bill Cosby of an honorary promotion in the wake of unproven sexual misconduct accusations.

The Navy has stripped Navy veteran Bill Cosby of an honorary promotion in the wake of unproven sexual misconduct accusations.

The Hill (“Navy rescinds Cosby’s honorary title“):

The U.S. Navy is revoking Bill Cosby’s honorary title of chief petty officer, the service announced Thursday.

“The Navy is taking this action because allegations against Mr. Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Stevens said in a joint statement.

The Navy’s action marks the latest chapter in the public backlash against Cosby that has included NBC canceling his planned sitcom “America’s TV Dad” last month.

Cosby was given the honorary military rank in 2011. He originally enlisted in the service in 1956 and served for four years as a hospital corpsman before being honorably discharged in 1960 as a 3rd class petty officer, according to the statement.
The famed comedian has come under fire in recent weeks as past allegations by several women that he drugged and raped them have resurfaced.

Several more women have come forward accusing the 77-year-old TV legend of sexual misconduct. Cosby has repeatedly denied the allegations, none of which have gone to court.

The conduct of which Cosby is accused is reprehensible and the sheer volume of accusations makes it extremely likely that he’s a serial abuser. Given that the military in general and the Navy in particular is trying to deal with its own problems with sexual misconduct, distancing themselves from Cosby here is understandable.
 
Still, in the absence of judicial determination of misconduct, the action here strikes me as, well, petty. Cosby honorably served in the Navy, after all, and achieved the lowest petty officer (NCO) rank. Being an honorary chief petty officer (E-7) is, shall we say, hardly atop the list of Cosby’s honors. It’s not as if the Navy is tarred by the association; few know it exists.
 
Beyond that, the Navy’s action is almost ironic in the context of this:

Cosby has also been bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, though a former White House aid predicted President Obama would not revoke that honor.

The aide in question is Aram Bakshian, who was “responsible for the in-house selection process for Medal of Freedom recipients while working for the Reagan administration” and notes that there’s “no precedent” for revoking the nation’s highest civilian honor once bestowed. Cosby was bestowed under President George W. Bush in 2002.

Alas, Cosby—a beloved man who entertained millions for decades and is a legitimate civil rights hero—is yet another object lesson in the fact that we really don’t know celebrities. His fall from grace is a true shame. That he apparently got away with horrific conduct for so long is a tragedy.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Popular Culture, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Mr. Cosby is getting f’ed in the Court of Public Opinion.
    Not saying he doesn’t deserve it.
    Just sayin’

  2. Gustopher says:

    I’m really uncomfortable with a government agency punishing someone like this when they haven’t been convicted (or even indicted) for anything.

    If this was a college rescinding an honorary degree, it wouldn’t bother me, but the government is held to a higher standard.

    Not saying that Cosby isn’t a pudding peddling rapist…

  3. C. Clavin says:

    And was he drugged when they stripped him (of his honorary promotion)???

  4. Gustopher says:

    At least they didn’t shoot him, or choke him to death…

  5. Nikki says:

    F Cosby. He is a hypocritical a-hole who declared himself the moral arbiter for the Black Community all the while knowing he was a serial rapist and had been for decades. Since the statute of limitations for his crimes has run out, there is nothing better then watching his very public humiliation.

    I can only hope that Charles Barkley has similar skeletons hidden in his closet that will soon come to light.

    I loathe people who feel they need to scold those they consider beneath them.

  6. Nikki says:

    F Cosby. He is a hypocritical a-hole who declared himself the moral arbiter for the Black Community all the while knowing he was a serial rapist and had been for decades. Since the statute of limitations for his crimes has run out, there is nothing better then watching his very public humiliation.

    I can only hope that Charles Barkley has similar skeletons hidden in his closet that will soon come to light.

    I loathe people who feel they need to scold those they consider beneath them.

  7. Franklin says:

    I hope this didn’t cost the Navy more than two dollars to implement. Because FFS, it doesn’t accomplish anything.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    Wasn’t it the Navy that had the Tailhook scandal?

    “I’m shocked, SHOCKED to find gambling going on here!”

  9. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve been OK with the NFL as Ray Rice’s employer punishing him (kinda, sorta) over a non-job related matter only because he signed a contract that says they can and the culpable act was clearly established. I guess there are no standards on when an honorary title can be withdrawn, but it is unseemly to act on unverified accusations. Also, the NFL was under a lot of pressure to act. As noted above, who even knew about this, much less demanded the Navy do something?

  10. Richard Gardner says:

    Maybe Streisand Effect on this. Who knew or cared that he is/was an honorary CPO?

  11. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    The person I feel sorry for is his wife. With this many accusations, eventually someone is going to ask the big question about her;

    how could she not know?

    and then the story gets really exciting–and tragic.

  12. John Peabody says:

    At this rate, the Bureau of Fallen Celebrities will soon pound down my door with a military vehicle to remove my Bill Cosby comedy LPs from the 1960s. Maybe I’ll have to take drugs to remove my memories of laughing.

  13. Tyrell says:

    Look at this: news reports that Rolling Stone Magazine has issued a retraction of the assault allegations at the University of Virginia that came out a few weeks ago. This action resulting from inconsistencies, discrepencies, contradictions, flip flops, and embellishments. I would not be surprised if most, if not all, of the allegations against Cosby will be retracted, taken back, discredited, or down right disproven before it is all over with.

  14. Franklin says:

    We’ll see. But the Rolling Stone “research” essentially amounted to one reporter interviewing the lone alleged victim. With Cosby, we’re seeing many women giving very similar stories. I’d have to say there’s a bit more smoke there.

  15. Vetspouse says:

    What happened to commonsense in this country really? So years ago when the first case was settled, there was 13 -THIRTEEN – Women for God sake, who were to testify that they were also raped by Cosby following exact same MO ( drug and rape).
    The guy even bragged about “Spanish fly” in a video AND YET, no reaction from the Navy and worse: no DA went “Hmm… Maybe I should investigate further on these 13 cases”? REALLY?
    As USUAL in America, no one wants to rock the boat or do their job! No wonder why the system is so dysfunctional! Guess what ? As long as we will let cops, veterans affairs, justice system, universities, etc investigate themselves, we will see this kind of ” let go” or cover up because no one loses their job over not doing their job when they got investigated by their own colleagues. All powers need counter-powers, all organizations need oversight and impartial review process, otherwise how can you guarantee impartiality? Who would come up with ” Now that you ask me…. My service is corrupted”? Of course no one my dear Watson! Those who did not investigate years ago should be stripped of rank and job to begin with!