The great thing about living in the “information age” is that we are afforded so many opportunities to learn new things. Today I learned that the word affluenza was not just a made up term by a really smart defense attorney. Turns out the term started being used back as far as 1954, but really got validation with a PBS documentary called “Affluenza”. The documentary was so successful that it even spawned a sequel called “Escape from Affluenza” .
Who knew? The folks at PBS define affluenza thusly:
Af-flu-en-zan. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth. 4. A television program that could change your life.
Obviously, the 4th definition is a joke, but the other three describe a condition that could be used by a psychologist, or a really smart defense lawyer, to give credence to a mental condition that could effect one’s behavior. Now, I’m perfectly happy with the first definition. Every husband on the planet knows the pressure of trying to keep up with the Joneses. The pressure comes from family and friends, mostly in subtle ways, but the pressure to provide yours with everything their little hearts desire, is always there.
Based off of the PBS defintion, everybody in America that is out there working their butts off trying to provide the American Dream for their family, has affluenza. Imagine my surprise when I heard that a lawyer used affluenza to defend his sixteen year old client. The defendant, who looks like he never hit a lick at a snake, is a mismatch of DNA that clearly has never worked a day in his life.
Now, I’m all for smart lawyers, I wish I could afford them. I don’t know what Ethan Couch’s attorney charges, but I’m guessing upwards of five hundred dollars per hour. My guess is that the retainer to take the case was $50,000 or more. Clearly this little inbred cretin’s parents could afford to get the best for him. In some sort of Bizarro World court proceeding, Ethan Couch’s lawyer used the fact that the twerp’s parents could afford a really high priced lawyer, as a defense for the little snot killing four people.
If you’re not familiar with the case, Ethan Couch was driving drunk when he hit multiple cars and killed four people. Friends of Couch’s that were riding in Couch’s truck were thrown out of the truck. One of them will never be able to move or talk again because of brain injuries. How drunk was Couch, you ask? Because, in his defense, we all know sometimes accidents are just accidents, right? The prosecutors related that three hours after the crash, Couch’s blood alcohol level was 0.24, which is over three times the legal limit in Texas.
Due to the fact that Couch had always been given everything on a silver spoon all of his life, and his parents could afford a really good attorney, Couch received ten years probation. NO JAIL TIME, NO JUVIE TIME, just go on home and chill.
It appears that “chilling” happens to be Couch’s one life skill. Couch was filmed “chilling” with his homies playing beer pong, and when the video went viral, Couch and his Momma fled to Mexico. Strangely, the court previously persuaded by an “affluenza” defense, did see leaving the court’s jurisdiction as a parole violation. Couch and his Momma were drug back to Texas, kicking and screaming I’m sure. “Oh, the indignity and unfairness of it all.”
This case is a very fine example of how broken our justice system is. A wealthy white boy kills four people with his car and receives probation. Probation, not even house arrest or wearing a monitor. Free to walk about. As an opponent of the death penalty, I can’t call for Couch’s head, but, I do pray to God he is not allowed to procreate.
Are there other examples of rich white boys that are never held to task for their aberrant behavior? I’m sure we can all think of several examples, without thinking too hard.
I think there is a fitting cure for affluenza, though, and you can find it in the movie “Cool Hand Luke”. Maybe what we have here, is a “failure to communicate”. I’m thinking a little “road work” might help little rich white boys get over their bouts of privilege disease.