Shakespeare’s Macbeth loved his wife. Lady Macbeth loved her husband. We know this from Macbeth’s letter in Act I. Their love, in a large sense, is what makes the play a tragedy.
The story of once-upon-a-time Hollywood power couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard isn’t so much a tragedy as a horror story.
On Wednesday, a jury in Fairfax, Virginia, found Heard had defamed Depp in a 2018 Op-Ed published by The Washington Post in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Depp was awarded $10 million in damages plus $5 million in punitive damages in his civil suit. Heard, who filed a countersuit, was awarded $2 million.
The end of the trial might also mark the end of an era.
#MeToo let victims know they were not alone. Plenty of other women had suffered the same humiliations.
Ten days later, when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” almost a million Twitter users posted the hashtag within two days, according to Very Well Mind.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
When Facebook got in the game, almost 5 million users shared 12 million posts in a 24-hour period.
Time magazine named Burke and other “Silence Breakers” as its Person of the Year for 2017.
The #MeToo movement was seen as heroic — and rightly so. Men are capable of horrible things, and far too have been guilty of abusing women, some in unspeakable ways.
The movement brought accountability to powerful players and elite institutions.
However, like any noble endeavor not firmly rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition, it was soon co-opted by people with agendas. The most prominent of these came during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
Left-wing protesters rallied to stop the conservative justice from being confirmed. When they took to the streets, many of them carried signs bearing the words: “Me Too.” The movement had been co-opted and politicized.
The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee brought forth a witness who claimed Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a party in the 1980s when the two were teenagers.
Christine Blasey Ford quickly became a #MeToo hero — and a case in point for how the movement could be abused.
Ford claimed she remembered what Kavanaugh allegedly did and that he was drunk, according to The Hill. She also said she had the good judgment to only have one drink. But she couldn’t remember how she got to the party in question, how she got home, where it was or when it was.
Even worse, every witness Ford named denied being at the party under oath. Leland Keyser, supposedly Ford’s close friend, couldn’t back her story.
Keyser’s attorney was blunt, saying, “Simply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.”
Ford had a credibility problem.
So did Amber Heard.
On Wednesday, legal experts told the New York Post that the jury didn’t believe the “Aquaman” actress was telling the truth.
Former California Judge Halim Dhanidina said, “The case was going to rise and fall on her credibility more than any nuanced legal question. And she just did not make it through the trial with her credibility intact.”
Dhanidina, now a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, added, “The fact that she emerged from cross-examination, in essence, defeated without any remaining credibility — that was the linchpin in the case for me.”
Beverly Hills entertainment attorney Mitra Ahouraian agreed that jurors likely thought Heard was disingenuous.
“The jury found her to be either inauthentic, overacting or not deserving of empathy,” Ahouraian said.
“A lot of Heard’s emotional cues on the witness stand didn’t line up with her testimony,” she continued. “She would get very impassioned at weird times or make awkward attempts to connect with the jury by speaking to them directly.”
The bottom line: If the jury doesn’t believe you, you generally lose the case.
Evidence was presented to the jury, witnesses were called, and the jury reached a unanimous verdict. That’s due process. Case closed — for now.
Without due process, there can be no justice. There are two sides to every tale. It’s up to the jury to sift through the evidence — no matter how garish it turns out to be.
The court of public opinion, on the other hand, is not a court of law.
The #MeToo movement has suffered some setbacks in recent years. Is this the final nail in the movement’s coffin? It remains to be seen if #MeToo can wrest itself away from those who would use it for personal or political gain rather than justice.
At the end of Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth’s severed head is brought to Malcolm, the new ruler of Scotland. Lady Macbeth is said to have committed suicide. The good side won. Evil was vanquished.
If Heard was seeking Hollywood fame, this watershed court case is more likely to be what she’s remembered for.
Due process is the best way to sort through amoral muck. It can be a dirty job, but justice demands it.
No due process, no justice. Amber Heard has had her day in court.
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