Johnny Depp's Victory Is a Crack in the Moral Armor of Liberal Feminism | Opinion

The actor Johnny Depp has won his defamation case against former wife Amber Heard. The suit was provoked by an article in the Washington Post, penned by Heard in 2018, that cast her as the face of domestic violence. The jury awarded Depp $15 million in damages after finding that Heard's statements about their marriage were false and that she acted with "actual malice."

It was a stunning verdict, and one that seems to spell the end of the #MeToo movement's edict that we #BelieveAllWomen. But it should come as no surprise that these once ubiquitous and socially enforced liberal feminist edicts are now beginning to succumb to the scrutiny and skepticism that they have so far managed to avoid. The Depp v. Heard case breathed new life into once dismissed criticisms about the limits of #MeToo and the disregard the movement has shown for the importance of due process.

One of the most shocking revelations of the trial was the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union played a major role in getting the defamatory OpEd published, even writing the first draft. An organization supposedly devoted to due process and civil liberties had taken an egregious role in depriving those same rights to Depp.

Needless to say, #MeToo, like any other political or social movement, proved not immune to cynical weaponization. Though the sentiments and aspirations of the movement are in fact noble, the incentive structure surrounding victimhood, grievance and even feminism writ large in the realm of media and political organizations is rife with avenues for opportunism, careerist maneuvering and attention seeking.

Indeed, the liberal feminist mode has come to rely heavily on media spectacle, celebrity and a careerist incentive structure in which success is built on scalps taken without due process. After all, the #MeToo movement has been liberal feminism's greatest hit of late; what does it say of feminism more broadly that its most high-profile success devolved into celebrity smut and the cynical weaponization of grievance?

Amber Heard
FAIRFAX, VA - JUNE 1: Actress Amber Heard departs the Fairfax County Courthouse on June 1, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia. The jury in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard case awarded Depp $15 million in damages to his career over an op-ed Heard wrote in the Washington Post in 2018. Rod Lamkey/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images

Of course, liberal feminism's influence in the media is not the only culprit in this pernicious trend. Race-related activism and the climate that grew out of Black Lives Matter has also been rife with similar incidents of cynicism and media scandal. The infamous Jussie Smollett case was yet another example of a celebrity making dubious claims about identity-based violence that ended up being proven false by a court of law. When the Smollett hate crime accusation initially emerged, there was an outpouring of sympathy and support from major celebrities and activists, while those who expressed skepticism were viewed as insensitive or hateful by comparison. Even after Smollett's narrative was proven false, BLM's co-founder Patrice Cullors asked followers to rally and "call the jails" to demand Smollett's release.

Cullors continued to beseech the public for sympathy and accused critics of spreading "disinformation" about the case, despite the clear evidence that Smollett fabricated the attack. "We need folks to challenge the misinformation and disinformation around this case," Cullors said. "That's so critical. What happened to Jesse can happen to any of us, and it's completely unacceptable."

The response of the liberal media in the aftermath of the Heard/Depp Case has included similar levels of cynicism; desperate attempts have been mounting to deflect and deny the consequences of a mode of operation that has gone unchecked in the name of protecting higher cultural causes and aspirations.

Just yesterday, The Root columnist Candice McDuffie wrote an absurd OpEd titled "Amber Heard Verdict Sends A Message to Black Women Everywhere." The piece attempted to argue that the skepticism and mockery that Heard's claims have been met with are not motivated by evidence but instead an undercurrent of seething misogyny.

These desperate efforts to conceal the chinks in the moral armor of liberal feminism continue to slip to new lows. The zealous and emotionally driven liberal media class are now being forced to confront the contradictions that emerge when grievance is portrayed as beyond reproach and scrutiny is equated with hostility.

We must continue to resist the incentive to adjudicate justice based on social edicts and influences instead of due process and evidence.

Angie Speaks is the cohost of the Low Society Podcast.

The views in this article are the writer's own.