Opinion: Why Johnny Depp's violent language about how he wanted to kill Amber Heard is no joke

Opinion: Johnny Depp may have passed off his text messages about drowning, burning and then defiling Amber Heard's body as a joke, but the extreme nature of the language is no laughing matter. 

Depp and Heard are currently locked in a vitriolic court case where you get the feeling whoever wins, it will be a Pyrrhic victory - one where the cost is so great it won't seem like a win. 

Depp is suing Heard for defamation after she wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post in 2018 where she referred to herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse". 

Heard is countersuing Depp for defamation after his former lawyer released documents alleging the abuse claims were a hoax. 

Part of Heard's case are the text messages, which hit the headlines last week when they were read out in court.

In 2013 Depp sent fellow actor Paul Bettany a text about Heard saying: "Let's burn her, let's drown her before we burn her." 

He then texted: "I will f**k her burnt corpse afterward to make sure she is dead." 

On Monday Depp told the court he was ashamed of the messages. 

The actor passed the texts off as a joke, saying he was quoting a Monty Python sketch where villagers discuss burning and drowning a woman they have accused of being a witch. 

"This is a film we'd all watch when we were 10 - it's just irreverent and abstract humour," he told the court. 

Except it's not a joke. 

These comments particularly resonated with me. 

In the weeks before he murdered my daughter Emily, Elliot Turner discussed how he would do it. 

Emily Longley was murdered in 2011 by her partner after he discussed with a friend how he would do it.
Emily Longley was murdered in 2011 by her partner after he discussed with a friend how he would do it.

We heard during his trial how he first discussed the methods, then practiced the one he chose. 

A friend of Turner told the court how he asked him: "Should I set her on fire, should I drown her in the bathtub?"

"He talked about a drugs overdose, whether she would choke on her own vomit if she got too drunk – or should he strangle her?"

Turner eventually settled on strangling her, which he later practiced with the same friend. 

I remember listening in court when the lawyer cross-examined that witness and asked him why he didn't do anything about Turner's threats. 

He said he didn't take them seriously and thought he was joking.   

I don't know enough about the Depp-Heard relationship to comment specifically on it, but I do know enough about mens' violence against women that discussing ways to kill your partner is a big red flag. 

Using such extreme and violent terms as drowning or setting fire to them is deeply disturbing. 

I thought the true impact of Depp's texts got lost among the headlines they made. 

It is wrong, under any circumstance, to talk about killing your partner. It's not a joke, it's not funny and it is not right.  

Language plays a huge part in domestic violence, it is used far more as a weapon than fists are. 

Language is used to demean and control the abused partner, often through threats of what will happen if they don't obey.  

It's not funny and a big part of the fight against men's violence towards women is getting men to see you can't pass these things off as "just irreverent and abstract humour".   

Most men aren't violent towards women but I wonder how many men would have said anything if a mate of theirs had texted the same messages Depp did to them. Or how many would have passed it off simply as a joke. 

If people hadn't passed Turner's comments off as a joke Emily might still be alive today. 

Mark Longley is Newshub Digital's managng editor and an advocate for ending mens' violence towards women

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