>> Wednesday, July 22, 2015
"Reading the media accounts, one would conclude that defendant has admitted to rape. And yet defendant admitted to nothing more than being one of the many people who introduced quaaludes [sic] into their consensual sex life in the 1970's."- Patrick O'Connor and George Gowen, as quoted by Yesha Callahan,Drugging Doesn’t Equal Rape," The Root, July 22nd, 2015.
No, no, no. I did not want to go here, or have this subject visit this blog. What needs to be said that hasn't been said already? And no, please: resist the temptation to state the obvious in the comments--that Cosby is a reprehensible man, or that he's innocent until proven guilty, or whatever.
Still, that quote is too rich to pass up, isn't it? Yes, indeed, the rockin' and rollin' '70s, when powerful prescription sedatives were a part of the consensual sex life. I was but a child and so missed the coital haze of the post-Woodstock decade, but was somehow under the (evidently false) impression that the '70s drug of choice for enhancing the sex life was that infamous anesthetic and stimulant, cocaine. I was also under the impression that most recreational users of 'Ludes and Mandies administered the pills to themselves or shared the experience, much as users of that other famous recreational depressant of the '70s, heroin, shot up themselves and not just their partners.
Which, you know, wasn't good for the actual grindy sexifying, but wasn't the point when you were popping soapers. Or so I'm told. I was still watching Sesame Street in a completely sober, rapt and unironic way at the time.
No, I don't really want to get into obvious statements re: Mr. Cosby's sleaziness or the possible mixed motives some of his accusers may or may not have at this late date. We know. But I do think it bears amused comment and remark upon the obvious tone-deafness of Mr. C.'s lawyers, who, in an era in which sex with a drugged and unconscious partner has generally come to be regarded as a form of non-consensual sex, i.e. rape, insist that recreational use of Quaalude1 and alcohol is compatible with a "consensual sex life." It seems fairly self-evident that the introduction of these specific drugs, especially in combination, quickly renders one or both partners incapable of meaningful consent and/or incapable of even active participation in sexual acts. It also seems fairly self-evident that the introduction was one-sided, since one assumes (although the effects of drugs upon individuals may vary) that washing down a few 'Ludes with booze would render Mr. Cosby as semi-conscious and placid as his ladyfriend du jour and the whole discussion of stoned sex would be mooted.
That this is apparently a written statement, one which the lawyers had the opportunity to review before submitting to the press, makes the gaffe even more amusing and bewildering. It would be a thoughtless enough thing to say during a press conference, in an interview, in the heat of a moment without carefully thinking through the sequence of words before they're launched from the lips. St. Lionel of Hutz, patron saint of the legal profession, knows any of us in the Bar have done that; it's another thing entire to carefully write the words onto paper (or type them onto a screen), look at them, and still think they're a clever thing to show somebody else.
It might also be observed in passing that above and beyond expressing the dubious notion that giving a woman "a central nervous system (CNS) depressant of the quinazolinone class that acts as a sedative and hypnotic" prior to sex is consistent with a "consensual sex life," the statement also rather broadly suggests that the allegedly commonness of this is some sort of absolute defense. That is, the statement from the lawyers essentially says, "Hey, c'mon, everyone was drugging women into semiconscious and schtupping them! It was the '70s!", which hardly seems like a ringing defense of the sexual culture of the 1970s, much less of their client. I can't say I've ever been able to successfully use "Everybody was doing it!" as a defense of anything, or have heard of it being successfully used in any venue from the backseat of a car during a hellish family roadtrip to a court of law. One figures that even if the lawyers' statement is true, it's a far worse condemnation of the Disco Decade than the usual jokes about the clothing of the era or bitching about musical tastes.
Anyway, it was a dumb thing for Cosby's lawyers to put out there. That was about the extent of it; that, and imagining all the people introducing 'Ludes to their sex lives. I should really talk to my parents, or probably strenuously avoid the subject altogether. I haven't quite decided.
1Let me tell you that this looks wrong, and yet "Quaalude" is a brand name, and spell-check rightly (I think) doesn't like "Quaaludes" (and "quaaludes," with the lowercase "q", is clearly right out). And yet I fully realize that as far as pop-slang goes, "quaaludes" has come to be a common term for more than one dosage-unit of methaqualone, the generic name for the drug.
Descriptivist-not-proscriptivist that I am, I'm normally inclined to go with the pop usage of a word, or to have some preference for it anyway. But this seems tricky here, because technically we're talking (I think) about a trademark (indeed, I should probably be littering the post and footnote with TMs, it's just that I'm lazy.
So, y'know, I just don't know.
While we're down here, by the way, I'd just like to add that the only reason I know the Brits call 'Ludes "Mandies" is because of Nick Mason, who claimed that Mandies were Syd Barrett's drug of choice. There's an infamous story, even, of Barrett crushing up his Mandies into a thing of hair gel before a Floyd gig and dumping the concoction on his head before going out under the hot stage lights, which caused the slop to melt and run all down Barrett's face like he was a melting wax effigy, and this was one of the final straws that had his bandmates deciding they couldn't work with him anymore even if he was not only their guitarist and lead singer, but also the author of nearly all their songs; the story has been told in more than one place, but I believe it was Mason who attempted to debunk it by observing that Barrett would never waste good Mandies like that. In any event, if you're still with us and care at all: Mandies were evidently Syd Barrett's drug of choice, not LSD, which he probably took only a few times, and his reputation as an "acid casualty" is probably an inaccurate accounting of what was probably emerging schizophrenia exacerbated by drug use--mostly Mandies--and the stresses of the up-and-coming rocker's lifestyle (public performances, staying up all night, driving from one end of England to the other, having to answer reporters' questions, business dealings and financial issues, etc.).