A defamation trial that is really a modern-day witch-hunt

In a world where not even Netflix has enough content to hold our fickle attention spans (the streaming giant is apparently haemorrhaging subscribers quicker than the clothes fall off a Bridgerton character),we have had to find a new form of entertainment:catching up on the day’s celebrity court hearings.

After a break of a week,Johnny Depp v Amber Heard has roared back to life,to deliver us some more mind-boggling Depposition (see what I did there?)

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.AP

Like most people,I am realising that the truth is often far stranger than fiction. And the truth is this,in the case of actors Depp and Heard:all of us would be far better off if they had spent their money on some decent therapy,before donating the rest to charity.

Instead,Depp has chosen to pursue his ex-wife to the gates of insanity,and many hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people have happily accompanied him for the ride. Social media buzzes with posts and reels explaining why Johnny is innocent.

This is,ostensibly,a defamation trial. But really,it’s a modern-day witch trial. At the beginning of proceedings,we heard from a forensic psychologist that Heard most likely had borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.

Dr Shannon Curry had been called as a witness for Depp,and said that she had made the evaluation from an examination of Heard’s previous psychological assessments,coupled with direct examination on two occasions. Curry also cast doubt on Heard’s claims that the relationship left her with PTSD,stating that the condition is one of the easiest to fake.

What is the message here,other than that the mentally ill cannot be believed or trusted? And there’s another reading that might come from this testimony:that if Depp misbehaved in any way,then Heard drove him to do it. He is but an innocent victim of an unwell woman. But there is nothing more unwell than using mental illness as a metaphorical stick to beat someone with in a trial. It is cheap,it is tacky and it is dangerous.

We know,for example,that the mentally ill are far more vulnerable to abuse than most. And it sets back mental health campaigning by decades because implicit in this trial is the notion that someone with BPD or HPD is bad,rather than a human with an issue that deserves compassion and help.

It’s also worrying how many people I’ve heard saying they don’t like Heard,as if liking someone is the benchmark for whether or not we should take their concerns seriously.

There is a stunning lack of empathy going on – not to mention understanding – when a person complains of abuse,and all we can do in return is shrug and point out that that person is difficult,so what did they expect?

There is something deeply disturbing about a justice system that not only permits this kind of pathetic,public posturing but also seems to actively encourage it. What are these highly educated lawyers doing happily taking payment from people who literally have more money than sense? There’s a good place for the likes of Depp and Heard,and it isn’t a courtroom. It’s a treatment facility,where with any hope,they can both get well.

The Telegraph,London

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