Monday, December 8, 2014

Navy Rescinds Bill Cosby’s Honorary Chief Petty Officer Title

Navy Veteran Bill Cosby Dropped From The Rarified Rolls Of  Honorary Chief Petty Officer 

Bill Cosby in 2011 during the presentation of the title Honorary Chief Hospital Corpsman. The Navy pulled the title from Cosby on Dec. 4, 2014. US Navy Photo
Bill Cosby was presented as an Honorary Chief Hospital Corpsman in 2011. The U.S.Navy dropped him from the rolls of honary chiefs on Dec.4,2014  Photo U.S. Navy

 As some of us here at American Admiralty Books are in fact former Chief Petty Officers ourselves and long time fans of Bill Cosby. We view the Navy's dropping of Bill Cosby under the circumstances with very mixed feelings. Chief Petty Officers are required to uphold, demonstrate, and encourage the "core values" of our Navy. Here is the announcement that revoked Mr. Cosby's status: 

"By Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens today said the Navy is revoking Bill Cosby's title of honorary Chief Petty Officer, originally presented in 2011. 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.
Cosby enlisted in the Navy in 1956 and served for four years as a hospital corpsman before being honorably discharged in 1960 as a 3rd Class Petty Officer."

 We certainly agree that if the allegations against Mr. Cosby were proven true that such behavior is definitely not in keeping  with the core values of the Navy. But in fact nothing has been proven against Mr. Cosby and it is unlikely that anything ever will. It has been pointed out by the media,which just couldn't wait to run the stories, that the allowable time for both criminal charges and civil suits had expired. So why, one by one,did these women level charges at Mr. Cosby at this time?  Of course its politically incorrect to question women who make sexual allegations and we have no facts to challenge them with. On the other hand we haven't seen any real evidence presented. More importantly there are no forums in which any evidence is likely to be tested. Some will say then why doesn't Mr. Cosby file suit against his accusers for slander. We can easily see two good reasons. First the time elapsed. There is a reason why courts bar "stale cases", witnesses and real evidence have a way of disappearing over time. Mr. Cosby may not be legally time barred from filing suit but given the elapsed time he would face all of the practical problems that cause the court to time bar the women from bringing charges or suit. Someone responded to the Secretary of the Navy and the MCPON's announcement dropping Mr. Cosby from the honorary Chief's roles thusly:
"When I was growing up, I used to laugh at the Soviet History model of "undoing" something that actually happened and claiming it was really Soviet all along (a Russian discovered America; a Russian invented the light bulb; etc.), or pretending someone never existed (e.g., the city of Stalingrad being changed back to St. Petersburg, following the "un-Stalinizing of the USSR). An honorary chief is not really a chief, just as an honorary doctorate is not a real degree. So the Navy, in essence, has declared it is making believe it never gave a make-believe honor to Mr. Cosby, or worse yet — revoking something that doesn't really exist. All to appease public outcry demanding punishment for statements against him — not charges — merely to avoid potential negative publicity. SECNAV and MCPON may now claim the dubious distinction of perpetrating the first honorary lynching."

 We have to tell you that as Chief Petty Officers we disagree with Mr. Mansfield's description of an honorary Chief's appointment as a "make believe honor". We regard asserting that someone has "the right stuff" to represent the honor and traditions of the Chief Petty Officer Corps very seriously. We would certainly be ashamed if Mr. Cosby were proven guilty of the allegations leveled against him. But the Secretary of the Navy and the Master Chief Petty Officer of The Navy seem to have forgotten that one of our most important core values is respect for and the defense of the U.S. Constitution. We believe in due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty which is enshrined in the constitution we protect and in our own Uniform Code of Military Justice. We didn't give the title lightly and we don't want it revoked out of mere political correctness. 

 Some Chief Petty Officers in recent years have faced court martial over similar claims that proved false, just women with an axe to grind. Thankfully their letters patent granting them the rank of Chief, Senior Chief, or Master Chief Petty Officer weren't simply revoked upon receipt of accusations. The evidence was tested and found lacking. In those cases where the allegations were in fact tested and found true no Chief Petty Officer walked out of the military tribunal still a Chief. Mr. Cosby, an honorary member of the brotherhood of Chief Petty Officers was not accorded any due process but was dismissed from the corps by administrative fiat without any testing of the facts. This was political correctness at its worse. 

 If the allegations can be tested to accepted rules  of evidence test them and let the chips fall where they may. If they can not be tested then the accused may not be punished. By further impuning Mr. Cosby's honor without proof the Navy has not upheld its core values of treating all people with respect, and respecting truth and due process. Honorary Lynching?  It feels like it. It was definitely a demonstration that powerful people to day do act on political correctness without regard to truth or due process and impose real consequences on individuals. We can assert with great confidence that the title of Chief Petty Officer was an honor that Bill Cosby treasured and it was taken because political correctness was more highly valued than fairness, or due process.

 Pulling the MCPON into the revocation was meant to add legitimacy to the punitive action because no one would ever be appointed an honorary Chief over the objections of the Corps of Chiefs. So the "Dean of Chiefs" added his signature to the revocation. We believe this undermined the office of Master Chief Petty Officer of The Navy. It diminishes his perception as an independent and experienced advisor and paints him in the position of "Company man". This is a very sad event. The Navy would have been well advised to wait on events but did the politically correct thing instead and took punitive action before there was any certainty that it was the honorable thing to do.   

We're not the only Navy vets who think so here are some samples of comments from around the internet: 

Political Correctness strikes again .....based on unsubstantiated
 claims, devoid of actual charges..........whatever happened to 
innocent until PROVEN guilty.....

 We found two different reports of the event  each with more than half a dozen comments, only one defended the Naval action. Do we really want to live in a society where one can be ruined by unproven accusations? Does the U.S. Navy want to lead in that direction. 

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