One of the most-watched defamation trials in history ended today with Amber Heard being found liable. She now owes her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, $10 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages (reduced from $5 million due to Virginia’s statutory cap) stemming from an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post some years prior. In it, she detailed the supposed domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of Depp. Heard was awarded $2 million in the counter-suit she filed, though that’ll do little to soften the blow.
In what resembled a TV show more than an actual court case at times, Heard had numerous, unprofessional outbursts which probably didn’t help her situation. Now, she’s released a statement, and I’m pretty sure you can guess what she’s blaming for the loss.
— Amber Heard (@realamberheard) June 1, 2022
The immediate fallback to “what this verdict means for other women” is just so tiring. Not everyone is a victim, and not everything a woman says should be believed, especially in the face of countervailing evidence. In this case, it appears that Heard simply lied on several counts (at least, that’s what the jury decided), and no deflection to the #metoo movement will change the facts on the ground.
In that sense, her response comes off as tone-deaf, immature, and irresponsible. There are actually women out there who should be believed when a man does something terrible to them, and Heard’s continued performance hurts those women in that it breeds skepticism in cases where there shouldn’t be any.
There are no good guys in this situation. Depp is a troubled man in his own right, having left his family for this kind of relational chaos. Yet, Heard is clearly not an innocent victim. Not only was she physically abusive by her own admission, but from a fair reading of the evidence, she appeared to be emotionally abusive as well. I can’t know for sure what happened when they were the only ones present in the room and won’t make definitive statements, but based on what we do know, the right verdict was reached here.
No woman, including Heard, has lost their right to free speech because of this decision. Heard still has the right to say pretty much whatever she wants. What she doesn’t have the right to do is go to the Post to pen a defamatory article that crushed Depp’s career, leaving out key context, including her own vile actions. That she did so in what looked to be a cynical attempt to gain street cred with the women’s movement makes it all the worse.
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