Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Saturday,
Aug 30th

Affluenza

E-mail Print PDF

We’re not making this up. A teenage drunk driver in Ft. Worth, Texas — who killed four pedestrians and left a friend brain-damaged and paralyzed — got off, as a matter of law, because he came from a wealthy family. Judge Jean Boyd ruled that he suffered from “affluenza,” a “psychosis of extreme wealth,” writes The Week. Affluenza, you see, diminished the killer’s understanding of the consequences of his actions.

Think of that the next time you hear of a judge ignoring a defendant’s pleas for mercy on the grounds that he grew up in poverty and neglect. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.

Except, of course, that it should be good for neither. Neither wealth nor poverty is a justification for softening the appropriate punishment for criminals. Extenuating circumstances are one thing; caricatured circumstances, quite another.

The elevation of poverty to an entirely justified, exculpatory rationale not to punish crime is a well worn trope. But focus at this time on the opposite. If anything, it sounds even more unjust than the insult to the poor that, since they’re poor, they must commit crimes.

A psychologist who testified on behalf of Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old drunk driver in Texas, said that Couch “had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.” Therefore, Couch was exempt from jail time or even community service.

If wealthy Couch is not responsible for the consequences of the freedoms he could not handle, then why was he deemed fit to handle a drivers license? Clearly, if the state deems him mature enough to drive, he is mature enough to face the consequences. The only logical offset to that argument would be to deny children of wealthy families the right to drive until they are substantially older than the rest of the youth population, until they get cured of their illness of  “Affluenza.”

Homicide is homicide. Whatever the appropriate punishment for a teenage killer might be, it is not being enrolled in a rehab facility, featuring equine therapy and cooking classes, with no other consequences.

Paul Callan in CNN.com (again, quoted by The Week), stated the obvious: Couch’s sentence (if you can call it that) sends all the wrong messages about wealth, privilege and justice in America. If the cause of the quadruple homicide is, indeed, “affluenza,” then the appropriate punishment would be a solid dose of state-inflicted poverty in a prison cell where Ethan Couch would learn that his money can’t buy justice.

Shame on Judge Jean Boyd for corrupting justice, eviscerating respect for the justice system and imposing the insult on the wealthy that, since they’re wealthy, they must commit crimes. Truly, this is carrying the culture of victimhood to its aburdest extreme: He killed four people, and he’s the victim.

Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News

 

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Jon Stewart on filming in — and talking about — the Middle East

Talia Lavin Jon Stewart has been accused of being a “Zionist stooge” — and a self-hating Jew — because of his outspoken opinions on the Middle East. ... [Link]

Pew poll: More U.S. sympathy for Israel than Palestinians

Anthony Weiss More Americans express sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians, according to a new survey. ... [Link]

Report: Rivers in induced coma

Ron Kampeas Joan Rivers is reportedly in an induced coma. ... [Link]

Yale chaplain blames anti-Semitism on Israel

Talia Lavin A controversial letter from an Episcopal chaplain has resulted in a heated debate over the causes of anti-Semitism. ... [Link]

Appeals court hears claims in Adelson v. NJDC lawsuit

Ron Kampeas A federal appeals court heard arguments in a bid by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to reinstate a defamation lawsuit against the National Jewish Democratic Council and two of its formal principals. ... [Link]

Obama administration targets array of Iran entities with sanctions

Ron Kampeas The Obama administration sanctioned a broad range of Iranian companies, banks, individuals and institutions, highlighting what it says is its determination to maintain pressure on the country while nu... [Link]

After tensions with residents, Lev Tahor leave Guatemalan village

Ron Kampeas Members of the controversial Haredi sect Lev Tahor left a Guatemalan village after religiously tainted disputes with its Roman Catholic Mayan residents. ... [Link]

This Week in Jewish Farming: Battling the blight

Ben Harris The tomato plant giveth and the tomato plant taketh away — a bit earlier than hoped. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com