June 1, 2022
It’s difficult to find a topic to write about on this first day of June. So many events are in the news, the demand for our attention is going into overdrive. I honestly don’t think I have enough brainpower to absorb so much so soon. I also don’t have the intellectual capacity to try to argue with people who demonstrate they are beyond reason.
We can start with the aftermath of the mass shooting in Uvalde, which occurred 10 days after the mass shooting in Buffalo. Or, the 17 mass shootings that have occured since Uvalde. I’m not sure I have anything to say about mass shootings that hasn’t already been said by those with a bigger platform than mine.
I’m of the opinion that if I have to say anything, I’ve already lost. If there is a word more powerful than the image of dead 10-year-olds or grieving parents, I don’t know what it is. The fact that politicians can defend guns in the wake of these massacres means, they can’t be reached. We need to move on and elect representatives willing to represent the people of this country. The 90% who want background checks. The overwhelming majority who want sensible gun control laws. Not the puppets of the NRA who pass laws to make it easier for teenagers to buy assault rifles.
Then, there’s the start of gay pride month, and the ongoing struggle for equality by members of the LGBTQ+ community. We can throw in the danger women now face in the roll-back of reproductive freedoms because these movements seem to be headed by the same groups of zealots. This fight has been going on my entire life, along with the fight for civil rights. What arguments have yet to be made? Again, I have no words for the hypocrites. They are lost to us.
I could touch on the war in Ukraine, and how June 1 is the International Day for the Protection of Children celebrated in Ukraine and many former Soviet countries. It’s been 100 days since the Russian invasion, and at least 262 children have been killed and 415 injured in the attacks. The war has left 5.2 million children in need of humanitarian assistance according to UNICEF. Once more, I’m speechless. How do you reason with a maniacal autocrat who regularly pushes his critics out of 10-storey windows and invades sovereign countries just for shits and giggles?
Then, don’t forget COVID, the plummeting stock market, drought due to global warming, inflation, unemployment, the Capitol insurrection, baby formula shortages, voting rights, conspiracy theories, mental health, SCOTUS corruption, forgive me if I’ve forgotten anything.
It’s almost a relief to focus on something as outwardly trivial as a celebrity lawsuit. If you have been living under a rock, you should know the verdict is in on the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp defamation trial. I can’t tell you how many news alerts have hit my phone in the three hundred years since this trial started. I’ve ignored 99.9999% of them, because I just don’t care about either one of them. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what the trial was about until I read today’s verdict, and I will admit I’m confused. From what I understand, Heard won a lawsuit in the U.K. in which she claims she was abused during their marriage. Then, she wrote an OpEd in the Washington Post in which she “referred to herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Then, he sued her for defamation, and she sued him for defamation and we all had to hear about their toxic relationship in the media non-stop for weeks.
Publicists on both sides organized groups of superfans to attack and vilify the opposing party. When that happens, no one can be assured the truth will come out. I’m not sure it did because the jury basically said they defamed each other, but apparently decided she was the bigger liar because they gave him more money. Fifteen million against her two million.
After the verdict, Heard released a statement saying that her disappointment was “beyond words” and that the verdict “sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”
In the interest of fair play, I should also add Depp released a statement in which he said, “after false, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media,” the jury “gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”
However, on this point, I’m going to side with the woman (naturally). This kind of public spectacle still hurts women more than men. Afterall, she lost. I find it odd the U.K. jury determined she was abused, as did the U.S. jury to some extent. But there was something in the minds of the U.S. jury that mitigated the abuse she suffered. I would argue, that “something” is celebrity. In this case, celebrity would appear to have prevailed over reason.
We’re obsessed with celebrity in this country, as is evidenced by the obscene level of interest in this case. The NY Times called it “one of the highest-profile civil cases of the #MeToo era to go to trial,” and yet the message is, if women speak out, they will be dragged through the mud, and the one with the most fans wins. I wish it was different, but that’s the state of the world today. I have no words.