Armie Hammer’s Trial by Social Media: And Why It Needs to Stop

Okay, so I have been telling myself to leave this one the hell alone ever since the “news” broke. But every day, I see more on social media fuelling this makeshift “trial” and I cannot stay quiet. Especially as a qualified criminologist who completed my Masters’ thesis on sexual offenders, it would be practically be remiss of me not to throw in my view.

Firstly, before you read the title and decide to dismiss me as some fangirl wanting to stick up for him because I find him attractive or like his acting, let me be clear:

I had no idea who this man was beyond the vague notion of his existence prior to this social media explosion. I have never seen one of his movies. I had to check IMDB to see what movies he had even been in and sure enough, I have seen exactly zero. (Yeah, I’m one of the only three people in the world that hasn’t seen The Social Network, sue me).

The point of this piece isn’t to “stick up for him” necessarily. It’s to ask questions. And to ultimately point out the problems with how his alleged victims have chosen to handle the situation. Again, to be clear, I am NOT trashing the alleged victims. I’m just trying to make sense of all this and offer an alternative viewpoint. Along with identifying some pretty worrying concerns that seem to have been entirely overlooked so far.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the whole Armie Hammer controversy, the short version is that private Instagram and What’s App messages, allegedly written by Hammer to various females, have been “leaked.” At present, there is no confirmation that the messages are genuine. Hammer has denied it, and the alleged “victims” are insisting they are genuine. Thus, a stalemate.

Use of the word “victims” is based on these women making allegations of abuse. And here is where it starts to get confusing…

Most of the chats that have been leaked seem to have only Hammer’s side of the conversation (that’s IF he even wrote this, as I said, it has not been fully confirmed). This means that some of the people he was allegedly conversing with, have deleted their messages back to him. So, not only are we now left with a glaring lack of context, but we are also faced with the question, “why?” If these women genuinely believe themselves to be victims of an abuser (as they claim), why tamper with what they are stating is the cold, hard evidence of this fact? And what do they have to hide?

Which brings us to problem number one: These “victims” have now assured that the messages, if genuine, will never be admissible in any court proceedings, because they have tampered with the evidence. Meaning IF he really is as predatory and abusive as they claim, he will never see the inside of a courtroom for it.

Another important question that’s been perplexing me, is what do the “victims” actually want? They have stated they want an apology. But publicly outing a man for his most private, secret sexual kinks seems to be a strange way to go about it. Especially knowing that the man’s particular kinks are not likely to be readily accepted by most of the mainstream community. And keeping in mind, these were kinks that the “victims” apparently shared, at least for a time, considering many freely admit to engaging in affairs with him for several years. Now again, this is IF he actually sent the messages, IF these affairs did happen, etc.

Regardless of what the “victims” say, their actions suggest wanting to publicly destroy him. Which brings us to the second and third problem. They are either seeking to destroy an innocent man (problem two, for obvious reasons). Or they are seeking to destroy someone who is genuinely a dangerous sexual predator. Problem three centres around the inevitable division controversy creates. And one look at all the new Armie Hammer adoration Tumblr pages that have sprung up since the whole thing started will make problem three even clearer. In seeking to destroy him they have instead created an environment in which a slew of potential new victims are now ready and waiting on a silver platter…

Again, this is IF he really is what they are alleging.

Now, the elephant in the room. That during some of these alleged “affairs,” Hammer was still married to his now estranged wife. His wife, who “according to a source” (basically means the media likely just made it up, by the way, otherwise they would name the source), was “shocked” to learn of his sexual proclivities. Really? His wife had no idea what his kinks were? None? If anyone actually finds this believable, I truly worry for you.

One of the “victims” actually posted that she would have “continued to protect him” if he continued their affair. Are alarm bells ringing for anyone else here? IF this is true (yeah I’m saying that a lot, deal with it), she is admitting choosing to pursue this course of action of publicly outing him because he ended the affair. Still this “victim” remained silent, until she allegedly learned of other women he’d also apparently been having affairs with during his marriage. Problem four, the “victims” have shown themselves to be vindictive in the face of him withdrawing his affections and learning he was allegedly seeing other women. I’ll leave out an indepth “if he cheats with you, he’ll cheat on you” analysis because frankly, that should be obvious.

If these affairs did happen, we are either looking at a variation of revenge porn by exposing his deepest, most private sexual kinks, or we are looking at a group of women who chose to take to social media instead of reporting his alleged crimes to the police. These women have alleged rape, beatings, bruising, choking, and him wanting to literally eat them. Yes, as in cannibalism. Now in the context of consensual kink play, there’s nothing wrong with this kind of talk. Don’t be judgy or prudish, everyone has their kinks. But the key is consent. If his actions were ever non-consensual, then he has committed crimes.

An important point needs to be made. Victims of all forms of abuse should be listened to and heard. But the culture of automatically believing victims is problematic. Everyone is capable of lying. It takes around thirty seconds to amend Instagram messages in photoshop to make it appear they were sent from anyone. ANYONE. If the standard of evidence the world is prepared to accept is something that is so easily faked, then justice is in serious trouble.

I do have my own opinions on the truth of this topic after looking into it as far as I could based on publicly available information. But I’ll reserve those, for now. Because you all need to make up your own mind, just as I did.

But one strong opinion I hold dear is that this trial by social media needs to stop. Nothing is being served by the continuing storm. If the alleged victims have evidence that he has committed criminal offences, then they need to approach the proper authorities so that the matters can be fully investigated by experts and dealt with appropriately. Because when we start looking to social media for a sense of justice, we are in very definite trouble.

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