So, have you been following Johnny Depp's six-week libel trial against his ex Amber Heard? Have you read with dismay (or relish) the tales of "pooping in the bed", broken bottles, seizures, etc.? ?
If there are lessons to be learned from this highly publicized trial, it is that:
I'll give you one example among many: Amber Heard testifies under oath that she was afraid that Johnny Depp would throw her down the stairs because of the "Kate Moss affair". What's this ? It's been rumored that Depp pushed supermodel Kate Moss down a flight of stairs when they were both a couple. We therefore have Kate Moss testify, who says that she did indeed fall down the stairs, on vacation with Depp, because she had slipped on a wet floor.
Depp rushed to her aid, took care of her and called for help.
Do you understand how devastating a simple “rumor” or gossip can be for an individual? Just repeat a million times: "It seems that Depp did this" for it to become a label that sticks to your skin?
I see articles passing by: Depp-Heard trial: the TikTok verdict; Depp-Heard trial: what social media is saying.
I even read in the Toronto Star: "No matter what happens in the Virginia court, Depp has already won where it matters most: the court of public opinion." What do you mean, “where it matters most”? The opinion of @joeblow92 or @grostotons362436 is more important than that of a citizen jury?
“A TikTok verdict”? But we don't care, friends! There is only one verdict that counts, only one court that counts, only one trial that counts: that of justice with a capital J.
The future of Depp and Heard is in the hands of the deliberating jury. That's it, that's all, as they say in Hollywood.
There has been a tendency in recent years to use all sorts of legal vocabulary in the media. For example: one should never say of an individual X that he is "accused" of this or that as long as he has not been... accused! This creates confusion in the public who no longer differentiate between allegations, charges, guilt, conviction, sentence, etc. We must learn to talk about a complainant instead of saying the victim.
LISTEN TO THE OTHER SIDE
Perhaps the most important lesson of this trial is this: you cannot judge (and convict) an individual until you hear both sides of the story.
It is the basis of the justice system in a state of law.
And that should also be the basis of our media system.