According to MSNBC columnist Liz Plank, the real loser in the Depp-Heard trial was America and I think this is the part where we're supposed to nod or something
· Jun 3, 2022 ·

Overly earnest attempts by an author to hijack the story-of-the-moment to support a beloved narrative always says so much more about the author than it does the society that is the subject of these desperate attention-getting critiques.

You can just picture her sitting there, practicing her acceptance speech for the sure-to-be-forthcoming Wallis Annenberg Courage in Journalism Award all the while furiously banging away on her keyboard in a vain attempt to tease out profound cultural insights from what amounts to little more than a tawdry but otherwise forgettable tale of one dysfunctional couple's marital spat with a Hollyweird twist.

Sure, there's the voyeuristic element, and maybe that says something about the culture. In fact, I had naively assumed that was her angle at first, but no, she had her sites set on a much bigger target.


She starts with the subheadline:

The jury has final say. But I'm less interested in whether Amber Heard is a liar, and more interested in why so many people are invested in the idea that she might be.

Think about that for a moment.

She is less interested in the guilt, innocence, or fundamental honesty of the person being tried, and more interested in what you think about it.

To be precise, she's more interested in what she thinks about what you think about it.

That's what's important to her. Not the actual issue, not the legal matter at hand.

What's important is what's going on inside her own head.

To progressives like Plank, what you believe is more important than what is. That's how an obvious man can claim to be a woman, and that assertion becomes reality by its mere utterance.

After a brief rundown of various people on Twitter saying mean things about Heard, she writes this:

The trial is revealing a lot about Johnny Depp and Amber Heardbut it's revealing a lot more about us.

Whether or not a famous millionaire pooped on the side of her famous millionaire husband's bed reveals "a lot more about us?"

I'm thinking it's revealing a lot more about her.

Why is our supposedly progressive culture suddenly obsessed with old-school, misogynistic tropes about lying harlots? How did we go from "believing women" to cheering their humiliation?

Perhaps you thought you were making an individual judgment about Amber Heard given the evidence presented.

Sorry, no. According to Plank, you were suddenly obsessed with old-school, misogynistic tropes about lying harlots!

How does Plank jump from an individual judgment to making broad-brushed indictments on thousands if not millions of people she does not know?

She can't help it.

I'm convinced that progressives have lost the capacity to view people as individuals. To them, you are completely subsumed in whatever collective she assigns you. The notion of individuality is so foreign to them that they don't even have a vocabulary to express it in any coherent manner. That is why she feels compelled to take a specific trial about two individuals and in an attempt to make sense of it, weave it into a morality play that only serves to reinforce Plank's view of the world and in which she plays the starring role as a teller of truth.

Step aside, Depp, and make way for Captain Liz Sparrow!

That's why in Plank's mind, you can't criticize Heard, the individual, without criticizing all women. That's why you can't suggest that maybe Heard is just a psychotic liar, without indicting all women as psychotic liars.

You attack a member of the collective, you've attacked the collective.

They simply cannot separate the individual from the group. There is no individual, only the group.

Wagatwe Wanjuki, an anti-violence advocate who helps communities prevent and respond to sexual abuse, believes that the trial's reception is a symptom of a culture that still needs to be educated on the complicated realities of intimate partner violence. "We need to show and encourage a better way to talk about abuse, abusers and victims," she said. "We do not teach people what domestic violence is, so most are ill-equipped to talk about abuse with the proper care and education needed to avoid upholding a culture of abuse."

Note that Plank completely ignores the fact that there was a trial in which specific evidence was introduced a central part of which was Depp's apparently credible claims that he was in fact the abuse victim.

But Plank barely mentions a word of this and when she does, she largely dismisses it. It doesn't' fit her preferred narrative, so instead of changing the narrative, she ignores the very specific data available from the trial and instead turns to general data.

Again, the collective trumps the individual.

Being wrongly accused of rape is astonishingly rare. In fact, it rarely ever happens. The majority of sexual assault is not reported most of the time. But the ongoing mythology around false accusations prevents a lot of survivors from getting justice. Innocent men rarely get accused of abuse, but the Depp case could give the public more reasons to believe the opposite.

Let's assume that, extremely well-publicized false accusations of rape aside, that it is rare. She still can't bring herself to view this as an individual case and not a morality play writ large.

"Innocent men rarely get accused of abuse, but the Depp case could give the public more reasons to believe the opposite."

Depp may have been falsely accused, but the individual doesn't matter.

It's damaging to the narrative, so too bad for Depp. The group is usually a rapist, so Depp must be, too.

To an outsider, Heard and Depp's relationship seems tumultuous, volatile and at times even violent. But calling their dynamic "mutual abuse" — as it was during the trial — perpetuates the same kind of stereotypes that keep abusers in control. "It's dangerous because it doesn't exist," Wanjuki said about the term.

Since Wanjuki says it doesn't exist, it doesn't exist.

"At the core of an abusive relationship is a power imbalance that is created and sustained by a pattern of domination and control. Spreading this term is a gift to abusers, because it distorts the true nature of the relationship by minimizing what they've done."

Having people testify at a trial with a judge and jury present the better to sort through the specifics of the case isn't the hallmark of an enlightened society that values the rule of law over the rule of men.

It's "a gift to abusers."

While the throngs of Depp fans may believe that they've picked the right side in this trial, they are also enabling damaging stereotypes about survivors. The public humiliation of Heard will only make victims more afraid to come forward. No matter who "wins" this lawsuit, it feels as if we have all already lost.

Depp may be innocent, and his fans may be right.

As you might have seen earlier today, there's a lot of this going around right now.

Maybe Plank is right, maybe America was the biggest loser.

Just not the way she thinks.

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