The serial rapist allegations of the last three months have turned Bill Cosby into comic dog meat. You can tell jokes about him any damn way you choose and audiences will laugh and Cosby can’t say a damn word. He’s over, toast, kaput. But according to some tweets posted this evening by Norm MacDonald, Eddie Murphy refused to mock Cosby during the “Celebrity Jeopardy” skit on last Sunday night’s Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special. Murphy didn’t want to dump on Cosby, McDonald tweeted, even though “he knew the laughs would bring the house down. Eddie decided the laughs [were] not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down.” Update: NBC News has reported that Cosby is grateful. “I am very appreciative of Eddie and I applaud his actions,” the 77 year-old comedian said.

I’m sorry but this strikes me as timidity, plain and simple. Timidity and stodgy rectitude and a dimming of that irrepressible instinct to go for the jugular. Murphy apparently decided that even a guy accused by over 25 women of being a “While You Were Sleeping” rapist deserves the benefit of the doubt. Murphy was smug and bland when he took a bow last Sunday night; McDonald’s Cosby story is another indication of who and what the former SNL headliner has become. The Eddie Murphy of the ’80s and ’90s is no more. I saw him perform live twice in the early ’80s; I particularly recall a great set he did at Manhattan’s Catch A Rising Star. The Murphy I saw that night would have never ducked out on a good takedown joke. David Spade‘s mid ’90s crack about Murphy seems more prescient than ever: “Look, kids…a falling star!”