Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Affluenza Defense Tests the Bounds of Sanity

The term affluenza was first coined - at least as far as I know - by John de Graff whose book began to spotlight the negative effects of wealth on humanity. Truly, lives of excessive privilege can blind individuals to any understanding of fairness and personal responsibility. And such conditions can cost people the basic empathy that must reside at the heart of any civilization.  The term "affluenza" gained new attention in recent weeks as news of the Affluenza Defense made headlines when a teenage drunk driver responsible for the deaths of four people was basically freed by a judge who bought the defense's argument that the defendant's wealth had left him unable to exercise proper judgment.

Basically, Ethan Couch is not guilty or responsible for the four deaths he caused because he grew up with such privilege that he never learned right from wrong.  It is, I know, the most preposterous argument you've probably ever heard, and it distorts the American justice system in ways rarely so explicitly blind. Certainly, we know there is a disparity between wealth and justice, a situation most clearly defined decades ago by the OJ case, when OJ Simpson was freed in the deaths of his ex-wife and her acquaintance Ronald Goldman.  Most Americans have little doubt that OJ's wealth bought his not guilty verdict. For, no average citizen could have mounted such a high powered defense with the likes of Johnny Cochran and F. Lee Bailey.

Now, Ethan Couch is the new poster child for the wealthy's ability to kill with impunity.

1 comment:

Mike Thiac said...

Not really, Ethan Couch is a nobody and will soon be forgotten, except locally. There is still hope for the punk spending time for assault on the two kids he injured but didn't kill.

Ted Kennedy was for generations the symbol of justice for sale if you have money, but he's passed on.