Johnny Depp and Amber Heard filed for divorce in 2016, almost half a decade ago. Yet, these two are still making headlines today, with the shocking leaked audio recording of their 1-hour counseling session. This article addresses the problem with the #MeToo and #BelieveAllWomen activism which has contributed to this scandal.
In a recent update, actress Amber Heard, who had claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse, admits to "hitting" her ex-husband Johnny Depp and pelting him with pots and pans during one violent altercation.
The Battered Husband Syndrome
It may be hard to believe, but over one-third of U.S. men (33.3 percent or 37.2 million) have experienced psychological or physical aggression by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Johnny Depp happens to be another number in this statistic.
From the transcript, we can read how Depp pleaded over and over again to put some physical distance between himself and his ex-wife whenever she gets violent. It is clear he was a man cowering in fear from his wife’s physical outbursts. Sadly for him, he was psychologically and emotionally trapped in his abusive relationship and had no means of escape – because (as he mentioned in the transcript) he loved her.
Depp pleaded over and over again to put some physical distance between himself and his ex-wife whenever she gets violent.
Male victims of domestic violence like Depp tend to speak up less about their abuse because of the humiliation of their ordeal. Due to their silence, some studies have found the number of male victims of domestic violence to be around 53 percent. Unsurprising, because no man wants to be mocked for “getting beaten up by a girl” if he brought his abuse to light.
Depp’s Scarlet Letter
What makes Amber Heard’s violence against her ex-husband particularly troubling is how the world turned against Johnny Depp when she first brought up the accusation. Heard had claimed she was the victim of domestic abuse in their marriage, and the public (led by the media) crucified Depp as a no-good, wife-beating lowlife.
Apart from losing his reputation in the public’s eye, Depp took a crushing career blow when he was dropped from his successful Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Needless to say, American society will not tolerate men who engage in domestic violence and abuse.
Heard had claimed she was the victim of domestic abuse in their marriage, and the public (led by the media) crucified Depp as a no-good, wife-beating lowlife.
Injustice Exacerbated by a Predatory Activism
To make matters worse for Depp - inspired perhaps by Alyssa Milano’s popular 2017 #MeToo activism against Harvey Weinstein - Amber Heard (or her publicist) took advantage of the violence-against-women-activism to include her narrative as part of the movement.
The public, as calculated, reacted accordingly to Heard’s narrative. It was simply unacceptable that Captain Jack Sparrow should be depicted on screen by someone who would physically hurt and injure their own spouse. Johnny Depp’s fate was thus sealed, and his image as a respectable guy was effectively tarnished.
Notice, however, it seemed there was something everyone had forgotten to do before finalizing their verdict against Depp. And that was to question if the accusations against Johnny Depp were even true to begin with. Instead, because the pressure from the #MeToo movement pushed forth a narrative of how all men are a predatory danger to women, the public was beguiled into adopting the #BelieveAllWomen catchphrase, and Depp was summarily punished for Heard’s accusations.
The pressure from the #MeToo movement pushed forth a narrative of how all men are a predatory danger to women.
The most unfortunate aspect of this fiasco is how Johnny Depp wasn’t the first person in America who has had to endure this injustice against men. It is a regular occurrence for men to be assumed guilty of committing violence against women by default.
Recall the case of “Mattress Girl” from Columbia, who brought up the same false accusation of violence and rape against her male casual-sex partner. Recall too the accusations thrown against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. And do not forget how the same malicious accusations happened to the venerable Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation back in the 90s.
A Mockery of the Law
The purpose of the law is to uphold justice. According to Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on Law (paraphrased here into simple English), law is a rule made for the common good of everyone, grounded in reason and reality, and equally binding to all individuals under it. A law is not law if it is used to serve the special interest of a person. This is the view of the law taken by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, and the American Founding Fathers.
If it isn’t clear yet why Amber Heard’s allegations of domestic violence against Johnny Depp are problematic if her accusation was indeed false, remember that law and justice go hand in hand. It is an injustice to everyone who is bound by the same laws when an unscrupulous person uses the legal system to further their own special interest and agenda.
A law is not law if it is used to serve the special interest of a person.
It is a serious issue if indeed Heard’s intention was to cause harm all along by way of the law. The same problem applies to all other false accusations against the innocent. It is an injustice that can occur to the highest-profile of public figures, as evidenced by what happened to Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. And it could just as well happen at the lowly level of the private citizen, like the falsely accused victim of “Mattress Girl”.
False Allegations Decrease the Value of Abuse Accusations
People who make false allegations about others with the intent of harming them are making a mockery out of the law. It’s a tenet of American justice that you are always innocent until proven guilty. Otherwise, justice has failed because the innocent will be judged as guilty without a fair trial, like when we’re told we have to assume that all accusations made by women about sexual harassment are true. This is how the #BelieveAllWomen movement degrades the standard of justice.
Domestic abuse is a horrible thing. A person who physically brutalizes their victims should be punished and sent away to prison. But we should not automatically believe each and every accusation thrown without looking at the evidence first.
Unfortunately today, we have to be skeptical because of how unscrupulous women are using false accusations to hurt men. Amber Heard’s alleged abuse of both her husband and the legal system shows us why we need to be cautious about jumping to conclusions and #BelieveAllWomen. What is proper instead is for us to #BelieveTheTruth.
Amber Heard’s alleged abuse of both her husband and the legal system shows us why we need to be cautious about jumping to conclusions and #BelieveAllWomen.
Was Amber Heard lying all along about her claim of domestic abuse? Chances are, we probably won’t know the whole story because domestic matters are constantly fraught with ambiguities and the fault tends to fall on both sides. What we did hear (from the leaked audio), however, was how this was Amber Heard when she knew she was being recorded during their counseling session. So, one can only imagine what she was like when she’s not being recorded. Suffice to say, it isn’t difficult to sympathize with Mr. Depp in light of this new development and call out for #JusticeForJohnnyDepp. In doing so, we should keep in mind the sanctity of law and demand justice for other innocent males too.