Juries are stupid.
I have in the past written that “everything is a hoax,” but obviously that’s an exaggeration. Not everything is a hoax, because a hoax is a specific thing: a (1) lie told with (2) malice. Yesterday a Virginia jury returned the incoherent dual verdicts that Amber Heard maliciously lied in her implication that Johnny Depp abused her, but also that Depp’s agent lied when he called her allegations “a hoax.” Maybe a self-contradicting verdict was the only possible ending for a trial so steeped in fuckery. Virgina defamation lawyer Lee Berlik attempted to explain it to the Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi and Sarah Ellison:
“It is remarkable that a judge in the U.K. found that the Sun had proven 12 separate acts of ‘wife beating’ by Depp, but in Virginia a jury essentially found zero acts of domestic abuse and that Ms. Heard’s claims to the contrary were basically a ‘hoax.’”
But that jury also found that calling Heard’s claims a hoax was false and malicious, somehow? The jury was not sequestered, even while pro-Depp messaging flooded every media channel. No matter what the verdict was, by the time it ended the case was already a disaster for women, for equality, for the safety of innumerable survivors of domestic violence, and for the #MeToo movement. In The Guardian, Moira Donegan called it “a public orgy of misogyny.”
We are in a moment of virulent antifeminist backlash, and the modest gains that were made in that era are being retracted with a gleeful display of victim-blaming at a massive scale. One woman has been made into a symbol of a movement that many view with fear and hatred, and she’s being punished for that movement. In this way, Heard is still in an abusive relationship. But now, it’s not just with Depp, but with the whole country.
This all started with a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece by Heard titled “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” It’s worth reading again now, because nothing could more clearly prove her right than this verdict. The power structures she describes have only been reinforced, and the hope she expresses for change seems more distant now than it did in 2018, when things briefly seemed like they might be getting a tiny bit better.
Happy Pride month to Chevron, a fossil fuel company that gives money to bigots like “Rep. Don Bacon, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw” reports Molly Taft in Gizmodo. Yes, oil companies are trying to kill all of us with climate change, but they’re perfectly fine with killing queer and transgender people first.
Also Today in Oil Company Rainbow-Washing:
Kate Aronoff @KateAronoffChoose your fighter https://t.co/NayMzrJn0y
Today Dot Biz
Morning Brew launched a line of candles, but you can’t even burn them at both ends, so what’s the point? Postlight will be acquired by NTT Data, f.k.a. “Dell Services” + “Nippon Telegraph & Telephone.” Happy enterprise-scale digital solutions to all involved. I guess Paul is off doing this now anyway? Last year, NFT marketplace OpenSea’s former head of product Nathaniel Chastain got caught buying NFTs from collections he knew were about to be featured, so he could profit from selling them when they popped. Yesterday the DOJ filed insider trading charges against him, specifically “one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, each of which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison,” reports Jordan Pearson in Vice. “I feel like everything that has ever been thought, said or done about NFTs undermines confidence in the NFT market, so it’s kind of random to go after this,” is Matt Levine’s take. If they outlaw crime, then what’s crypto even for? And Twitter is “pulling employees off of working on major consumer-facing features like audio Spaces, communities, and newsletters” in order to focus on core product improvements like adding an edit button and making it easier to bully Amber Heard.
Anne Helen Petersen: [Drowning Pool voice] “Let the body keep the score.” The Gessen/Gould book tour/apartment hunt continues today in the LA Times. Crypto “sex to earn” startup SEXN seems extremely fake. FLOTUS Jill Biden will unveil a stamp honoring Throat GOAT and ally when convenient Nancy Reagan, smack dab in the middle of Pride Month because the Biden administration is laughably incompetent.
There have probably been a dozen more hideous cultural outrages that Conor Friedersdorf can’t be troubled about since I started writing, but it’s Gentleman’s Friday so let’s end it here. I’m sure there’ll be worse over the weekend.
Today’s Song: System of a Down, “Chop Suey!”
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