Affluenza, a fairly recently discovered First-World “disease,” has been defined as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”
It’s also been described as when people are so rich they “have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol.”
In other words, accumulating wealth and privilege until it makes you sick.
The affluenza phenomenon hit the news last week when a defense attorney and psychologist in Texas used it to help 16-year-old Ethan Couch escape prison time for killing four people in a drunk-driving crash June 15.
Clinical psychologist G. Dick Miller testified the boy suffered from affluenza, and was simply given too much stuff and freedom and too little guidance and too few consequences, and needs treatment rather than prison.
Judge Jean Boyd bought it, hook line and sinker. She gave the teen but 10 years on probation – when she could have given him up to 20 years in prison, and when the prosecutor sought exactly that. Can you say naive?
What an insult to the vast majority of the American public, and what a travesty to the victims’ families, who were devastated a second time by the judge’s absurd ruling.
Moreover, this is sad affirmation for every cynic in America who has come to believe that Lady Justice really isn’t blind, and that there are different outcomes in court for the rich and connected. Thanks a lot, Judge Boyd, for proving it.
No amount of wealth or privilege accords one the right to recklessly cause the deaths of others and walk away.
It’s enough to make you sick.