"Creating People On Whom Nothing is Lost" - A high school English teacher in Colorado offers insight and perspective on education, parenting, politics, pop culture, and contemporary American life.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Affluenza in the English Classroom
"Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it."
of AP Lang & Comp certainly recognize this tidbit of wisdom from
King Lear which appeared as an argumentative prompt years ago. The
disparity between "wealth and justice" is a topic ripe for criticism,
and it forms the heart of many literary works. It is significant in one
of the great American novels, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The
essence of the theme and conflict is the misguided belief that money
can buy anything, even the past. In the novel, Daisy basically gets away
with murder because of her wealth, and Fitzgerald reminds us that the
Buchanans and wealthy elite are "were careless people, Tom and
Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into
their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept
them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."
days, that gap between wealth and justice is getting attention again
with the story of Ethan Couch, a teenager who killed four people in a
drunk driving accident, yet was inexplicably released from jail time
after his high priced attorneys successfully argued the "Affluenza
Defense." If there is anyone who "smashed things up," it's Ethan Couch,
who was driving drunk at nearly three times the legal limit when he
slammed into a group of people who were stopped by the side f the
road. After his high priced attorney successfully argued that he needed
rehabilitation, rather than jail time, and that he couldn't be held
responsible because his privilege had shielded him from any
responsibility in life. In essence, Couch's parents spoiled him so
terribly that he never learned consequences for his actions and
shouldn't be held accountable.