The Gavel in the Court of Public Opinion has Sounded- Chris Hardwick is Guilty
*TRIGGER WARNING: MATURE CONTENT DISCUSSING SEXUAL ASSAULT*
In a world where social media and memes are so powerful, it’s not surprising in the least Chris Hardwick has been found guilty in the Court of Public Opinion. In under 24 hours, Chloe Dykstra’s heart-wrenching essay (April Lavalle, Some ECards) regarding abuse by an unnamed ex-partner has been linked to Nerdist‘s Chris Hardwick.
I have quoted the Some ECards article as there are truly no better words to describe the essay. I have so many thoughts that I wish to express here. Chloe Dykstra’s letter and the resulting removal of Chris Hardwick from Nerdist pending investigation have created a maelstrom of personal and professional opinions. Separately, I am also acutely aware of the impact of publishing something that tells a personal story in addition to voicing opinions on some topics. All of which is currently swirling in my brain as I write this. I have mixed feelings about the entire situation as well as a personal bias so let’s break it down.
I started writing this piece as a discussion on the Court of Public Opinion, but am going to start instead with a note to Chloe Dykstra as in order to be mindful of my bias and be objective I must first address it and embrace. I am currently shaking and choked up from Miss Dykstra’s article and PTSD related to a familiarity with the topic so I know there need to be two parts to this article in order to make it work and the second one may have to wait.
Along the lines of publication, I do need to note how lucky I am to have found a website that allows me to speak my mind freely and without fear of consequences and one that does value when important discussions are had. If it is related to media, I have a space to put it. That in mind, I will now move forward with Part 1 as Chloe Dykstra could have included a name but she didn’t. This was both brave and beautiful and so I want to take this time to reply to her as a fellow survivor, woman and human in general.
If you happen to see this, thank you. Thank you for sharing a very personal story and being brave. Thank you for the not unnoticed to me uncategorized nature of your post as well as untagged and unlinked coming out. Thank you for not using a pen name. You have shown class.
In not taking ownership of that abuse, you give others strength. To do so, regarding the topics at hand, with the potential backlash you knew could occur was commendable.
You detailed sexual abuse in your letter that all too often goes unnoticed. As much as I can relate to every part of your letter, that one is what very much hit home for me. There is an insidious type of forced sex that is overlooked which you have addressed.
Media, as a whole, focuses on violence or threats of violence as a method of assault. That simply is not the case. It took me years after, even with therapy and insight, to realize I had been repeatedly sexually assaulted as it is simply not focused on. Threats of infidelity, cruelty and emotional manipulation as a whole are very much assault. I will not detail my own here as it is neither the time nor the place, however, I will say I cannot begin to say how sorry I am you’ve experienced it and how grateful. I know that last part sounds odd but it’s true.
Discussing those experiences and having tethers to media and entertainment, your article alone has reached 25, 000 people. That isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. You have no idea how many people will now think twice. Someone they know or love who has expressed even an inkling of this form of abuse will now think twice about what their loved one may actually be telling them.
Others, like yourself or I, who don’t see it until time has passed may now get the opportunity to take off those rose-colored glasses sooner. Maybe even experience a little less damage, regain themselves sooner. The amount of raw and unfiltered information you shared was surreal and incredible and truly what I believe media should be- a platform for change and to open discussions, invoke an emotional response and inform people.
There is entertainment to be had by media, of course; laughs, tears, superficial emotions that make life just a bit more enjoyable. That is the entertainment industry of course but it is linked directly to media and influenced by it. You have delved into the very heart of why I write. You are now an active catalyst for change. Right, this very minute. Your words and connection to media are currently making a difference. They are educating, creating dialogue, and influencing people.
I know when you sat down to write this, your intent was not a form of revenge or to cause a fuss. If you wanted that, you could have made that article easy to find, named names, gone to a major publisher and shouted from the rooftops. You did not. I want you to know though, it would have been okay if you did. You and your story are important regardless of who else is involved.
It is clear you have gone through something traumatic and are showing just how strong you are. Keep going.
Now, for the rest of you reading this, I have handled my personal feelings on the matter and it is time to handle my professional and objective thoughts. It’s high time a serious discussion about due process is had, hearing both sides of the story and how very similar the Court of Public Opinion is to what feminists have been fighting for years to eradicate.
I am calling it out. Calling for Chris Hardwick’s head on a platter before an investigation has even been had is a slippery slope. He is in the public eye and there may decency clauses involved however prejudgment and penalizing for said prejudgment are two entirely different things.
Penalizing (in this case I mean actively calling for a blacklist) Mr. Hardwick for a crime he has neither been charged with or convicted of is no different than a police officer or court seeing a scantily clad woman and assuming her rape is a consequence of this. No further information required, just, that is that. When we start making those judgments and skip evidence, due process, and information, it is a direct conflict with what we want in a justice system for both the innocent and the guilty.
I am not suggesting you not judge Chris Hardwick, nor am I expressing that I think he did or did not do it. Thinking he committed these acts and knowing beyond a reasonable doubt, however, are two different things. Beyond a reasonable doubt should be the standard we are choosing to blacklist someone and make a cry for their heads. Even when this may be the likeliest of scenarios, (am NOT saying this is the case here) as a society, and most especially, as bloggers, media, and journalists, we need to be mindful of the impact of what we are saying.