Cosby, like Ghomeshi and in part because of Ghomeshi, is being undone by a steady parade of accusers who claim he sexually assaulted them. The allegations against Cosby go back decades and aren't new to the public eye - he settled out of court in 2006 with a woman who claimed he drugged and raped her - but the activist campaign urging women who've lived in silence and shame to come forward in the wake of the Ghomeshi scandal is now catching up with Cosby.
That's a good thing if it exposes genuine predators and abusers, but who's the judge of that? The court of public opinion served as judge, jury and executioner for Ghomeshi, and the Cosby case seems to be headed in the same direction. Both men still have recourse to civil action for damage to their reputation, but realistically, the damage can never be undone - even by a favorable judicial ruling.
Which brings us to this: what happens if someone is falsely accused and gets destroyed in the court of public opinion? Do we revert to the time-honored legal code that better 100 men go free than one innocent suffer, or do we chalk up the suffering innocent to collateral damage in a wider and more important war on male sexual privilege? Regardless of the optics of the Ghomeshi and Cosby cases, a climate is being created where unsubstantiated criminal allegations can bring someone down, and no amount of legal recourse will restore their reputation. To think that someone with a grudge or something to gain won't manipulate that mob mentality to their advantage is dangerously naive.
We're at a cultural crossroads, and we need to decide whether public vilification is a legitimate substitute for due process. We can't have it both ways in a fair and just society.