I’ve been shocked by some of the events that transpired to finish the year. Last week, I mentioned the Megyn Kelly “Santa/Jesus” issue, and next up is the one that actually made me mad enough to yell at the TV when I saw it.
As though money can’t afford you enough privilege, it’s now a problem when you have too much privilege. The way to address that problem? Of course not the penitentiary, but rehab. Rehab. REHAB! This ain’t a drug addiction! That the judge bought it is problem enough, but of course there are racial overtones to these proceedings. With that said…
I will make sure my kids catch affluenza. If it means they need to be injected with it, so be it. I’ll put them around kids who have it so that they can catch it. There will be no quarantines once I find out where all the kids with affluenza go, I’m sending my kids there everyday for as long as possible. They need to catch that affluenza so that they can feel the exact opposite of how I did growing up, as free as they can be to do whatever they want to do with limited to no consequences. I wonder what kind of moral system I would have created if I knew there were no punishments. Plato wonders the same in the Ring of Gyges myth in the Republic, asking if people would still do the right thing if they knew they wouldn’t be punished for doing the wrong thing. Apparently, the conclusion of the story is the same conclusion as in real life.
A rich 16-year-old kid, who STOLE beer from a Wal-Mart and then mowed down 4 people on the road while drunk, received probation. Ten years of probation. I have a neighbor who is on 10 years probation and he’s still breaking the law, albeit more cautiously. And he didn’t kill anybody, let alone 4 somebodies. Yet justice was rendered blind and cruel when the judge bought the bogus defense that being too rich just didn’t provide him with enough stability, so he needs to be sent somewhere for treatment to learn how to earn things and work hard (that costs $450,000 a year).
They have places like that called jail. It’s where you go when you break laws and kill people. You have to learn how to earn things and work hard. In fact, I saw a commercial about a guy who killed a family texting and driving and he pled guilty and received a jail sentence. The only difference here is that, for some ridiculous reason, the kid (who is old enough to know that drinking and driving is illegal, drinking underage is illegal, theft is illegal, and murder is illegal) is the beneficiary of the assumption that he was so poorly raised that he was unable to keep himself on the right side of the law and that his future life could add enough value to society such that he deserves a chance to be rehabilitated.
It’s hard not to read that assumption and go, “So if you’re rich and white and misparented, then it’s not the kid’s fault and the parents just have to be able to buy their way out via a treatment program…even after committing a heinous crime.” It’s not like the kid got caught with some weed and they used the affluenza defense – perhaps, in that scenario, it might hold water that a kid with little oversight might get into unintentionally deep trouble and make a mistake (though that’s still questionable). No, he KILLED FOUR PEOPLE WHILE DRUNK DRIVING. VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER. And he has to go to a treatment facility where he doesn’t have access to Xbox, women, and has to work all week to watch a TV on the weekends. So his parents are paying for some group home to parent their child, all after the fact that their child murdered four people because their wealth made them poor parents. Absolutely brilliant.
This also invites the question – if too much wealth can be considered a rationale for why a person breaks society’s laws without fear of consequence, why can’t poverty be used as the same rationale? Because of a lack of resources and my parents’ time being consumed trying to acquire resources for our family, I didn’t receive enough oversight and boundary formation such that I fell into the wrong crowd and killed a few people. Hell, I don’t even have to fall into the wrong crowd – the affluenza is a home problem, not a social problem. So it could have just been lack of oversight and lack of punishment led me to make wrong decisions, and I could be rehabilitated to become a useful member of society. But because I can’t afford to go to the treatment facility, I’m unable to have access to that defense, and have to go to the poor people’s rehab center, prison.
Race might get the headlines, but class drives the content. And in this case, I believe it’s fair to wonder if any preferential prejudices got in the way of determining justice. This reminds me of a Law & Order SVU episode where a judge lets his bias about what a good mother looked like run his courtroom. I wonder if the judge felt similarly about what a good kid looks like and if that same kid looked different if there might be other prejudices that would have prevented that kid from the same treatment. The law is supposed to go case-by-case, and I do think that no matter the race or class of a person, if you steal beer, get faded, and kill people behind the wheel that you deserve castigation, punishment, and that you’ve lost your ability to be the same member of society that you thought you were.
This kid killed four people drunk driving (with Valium and weed in his system). Why this kid got to keep his right to live amongst the citizenry, hell in a death penalty state like Texas even his right to life when the same judge has delivered an unduly harsh verdict on a young Black male for a nonviolent offense will blow my mind (if an excuse is ever given).
So maybe my kids can’t benefit from affluenza after all…