Following Depp’s verdict, Me Too founder Heard says movement can’t be stopped

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Following Depp's verdict, Me Too founder Heard says movement can't be stopped

On Wednesday, a jury of five men and two women gave Depp a victory in his defamation case against Heard, his ex-wife. For her part, Heard partially prevailed with her counterclaim against Depp. Depp accused Heard of falsely and maliciously accusing him of domestic abuse, which had cost him millions in damages from lost acting jobs, after an opinion piece attributed to Heard was published by The Washington Post in 2018. While the piece didn’t name Depp directly, Heard described himself as a “public figure who represents domestic violence.”
The verdict quickly spread across social media platforms, with some conservative pundits such as Ann Coulter and Meghan McCain declaring the death of #MeToo. (McCain’s tweet that read, “#MeToo is dead. Helluva job @ACLU” has since been deleted; the ACLU wrote a draft of the opinion piece and helped pitch it. Heard is an ambassador for the organization.)

Tarana Burke, who started the “Me Too” movement years before it became a viral hashtag, stressed in a statement Thursday that the movement is “very much alive.”

Burke said people try to “kill” the hashtag “every few months” as a sport, but “it means something to millions and millions of people.”

“You can’t kill us. We are beyond the hashtag. We are a movement.” said Burke. “The me-too movement is not dead. The system is dead.”
Days earlier, Burke’s organization, me too. International, issued a statement He acknowledged the “mockery of attack, shame and guilt” over the weeks of the trial, calling it a “toxic disaster and one of the movement’s greatest libels.”
Despite the severity of the testimonies throughout the trial, Heard’s allegations of abuse were widely derided. Because the process was broadcast live, it was possible to capture footage and turn it into clips that garnered views and new followers. Many content creators quickly realized that there was an audience for creating pro-dork content, while posts deemed sympathetic to Heard made online targets of others.

Experts were alarmed by the process on social media.

“It’s not only that the extremely serious issue of domestic violence has become a lurid spectacle on social media, but that the mainstream media and public discourse has been so thoroughly bought into the misogynistic narrative that the underlying — and simple — legal issues obscured,” Mary Anne Franks of the University of Miami School of Law told CNN Business Wednesday after the verdict.

Amber Heard's lawyer says the defamation ruling sends
Franks, in a 2019 paper, pointed to the contradictions between those who support freedom of expression and those who want to restrict what some are free to speak out on.

It “is women’s speech that has been most feared and therefore most widely regulated, criticized, and banned throughout American history,” she wrote in 2019, adding that “a mass movement of women speaking out about experiences and abuse that… Long suppressed, like the #MeToo movement, should be hailed as the quintessence of free speech.”

Depp and Heard: A

The Depp v. Heard trial, she said Wednesday, essentially amounted to “a witch trial in the digital age,” noting that the intent was to “undo the small advances of the #MeToo movement.”

(Carrie Goldberg, an attorney whose firm is known for representing victims of sex crimes both online and offline, tweeted on Wednesday: “We’ve had a good percentage of potential clients in the last few weeks who need legal help against an abusive ex and have expressed their fear of retaliation like Depp did.”

The pro-dork zeal was particularly evident on TikTok. Just before the sentencing, the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp had garnered 18.8 billion views, while #JusticeForAmberHeard had only 68.2 million views.

“It’s a big celebration on TikTok for Johnny Depp right now,” Ashley Roberts, a TikTok user who previously found herself in the crosshairs of pro-Depp supporters and men’s rights advocates for expressing a different point of view, told CNN Business on Wednesday evening.

“It wasn’t an absolute loss for her,” Roberts added, referring to Heard winning part of her counterclaim, a fact she says many celebratory posts fail to acknowledge.

After the ruling, hostility towards Heard continued to rage, with people using the hashtag #MeToo to snub her and feeling encouraged to do so by the ruling. Heard, meanwhile, has indicated that she plans to appeal.

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