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Monday, June 10, 2013

Bill Cosby: A plague called apathy

The star on what’s wrong with our communities — and why the revolution needs to begin at home

He was the New York City dad we all wish we had Cliff Huxtable, the strict, funny and understanding father on “The Cosby Show,” played for eight years by actor Bill Cosby. Now 75, Cosby continues to be a father figure, speaking out about the importance of personal responsibility. He’s on a concert tour (he comes to White Plains in September) and has a new book, “I Didn’t Ask to be Born (But I’m Glad I Was).” Last week, he met with reporter Stacy Brown to share his thoughts about Bloomberg’s health crusades, children without manners and parents who need to be more involved. But the biggest issue facing us today, he argues, is apathy.
Illustration by Dale Stephanos
In terms of health, two things stand out that Mayor Bloomberg has jumped into to find some kind of remedy that will help cut back on illness — the abuse of sodas and tobacco.
No 1: Smoking — and a big howl went up from people who want to smoke. But when you look at it, everything points to smoking as a problem; whether a person dies from cancer or not, it’s still other things — emphysema, all kinds of breathing problems, second-hand smoke onto the children, let alone minute things such as you smell like cigar, cigarette or pipe — it’s in your skin, it’s in your hair. Mayor Bloomberg jumped in on that and people complained. Restaurants complained, people complained, why did they complain?
Money. That’s why. People are greedy. It wasn’t about somebody dying, it is all about money, so they use something called choice, which makes no sense at all. I have the right to smoke myself to death, they say. I don’t know if you ever had relatives who are sitting there and mentally they are in a state of addiction and they say, “No, I want to have my cigarette.” They have a metal bottle and two things going up in their nose and they have a pack of cigarettes in their pocket or pocketbooks and they keep saying, “I know, I know,” and people push them around in the wheelchair to have a smoke.
No. 2: Juvenile diabetes. Children are not being taken out of harm’s way. And there are many things that we also can do, but one is you don’t want your child consuming too much sugar. That is what the mayor tried to do with the sugar in the soft drinks.
It is my belief — my BELIEF in big letters — when people don’t make good choices, you can yell as loud as you want to at me about this is my body and I do what I want to do with my body, so OK yes you can. But now you are spreading it along generationally so that your daughter and grandchildren have it and everybody’s doing it. It becomes a term of apathy because people say my father had it, my aunt had it. People then ask you, “What your mother die of?” “Diabetes.” “Grandmother?” “Diabetes.” These things don’t have to happen if you make the correct choice.
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