12/13/13 Affluenza

I’ve heard lots of things, but this is right up there with the most ludicrous.

Recently in Texas, a teenage drunk driver was involved in a horrible traffic accident in which four pedestrians, all members of the same family in the same small town were killed. The teen’s blood alcohol level was apparently three times the legal limit. This was a terrible tragedy.

Subsequently, tragedy was added to tragedy when a psychologist testified as an expert witness for the defense at the teen’s trial. The psychologist testified that the teen, from an affluent family, suffered from a condition known as “Affluenza,” arguing for a reduced sentence because of this psychological malady. The teen was sentenced to ten years of supervised probation, infuriating many in the community where this tragic accident occurred.

Affluenza occurs when you are the privileged child of wealthy parents who coddled you, indulged you, covered for you, and used their influence, wealth, and prestige to make sure that you were never responsible for your own actions. Apparently this argument was used as a consideration for the judge when handing down the sentence.

My first thought is that this is an example of the plutocracy that America is becoming, or already is. Money buys influence. People from the elite class are governed by others of the elite class, and they stick together in the most unseemly way. I am not against money, wealth, or anything that goes along with it, nor do I begrudge anyone of anything they have that is more than I have or will have; but I despise corruption, and money and power corrupt.

If affluenza is credible, then the affluent parents had best be prepared to part with a considerable amount of their wealth in a civil suit that should be immediately filed by the survivors of the deceased, since this places the reckless, criminal behavior of the child squarely on the back of his affluent parents. But I don’t think affluenza is credible, merely the paid testimony of an expert witness, straining at the far reaches of credibility to earn the large sum he was no doubt being paid. Maybe the psychologist is suffering from a bit affluenza-envy.

Everything in modern society seems geared towards ensuring that we are not personally responsible for our own behavior. I am reminded of a recent story where a shopper in a convenience store shot and very nearly fatally wounded a young armed robber who was holding a gun to the store-clerk’s head, demanding money from the cash register. The parents of the armed robber complained in the press that it was not right for the citizen to intervene by shooting their son, that their son was not going to hurt anyone, that all he was after was the money, that the money and the robbery had nothing to do with the shopper, and that the shopper should have just let the robbery continue without any interference so that their son would not have gotten shot. This youth suffered from something besides affluenza. Perhaps he had a bad case of disaffleuza, which stems from parents who merely view their child’s criminal behavior as a legitimate business transaction. Perhaps the gun-wielding shopper who so redily interrupted the robbery could be sued for improperly interfering with intrastate commerce, which is a valid tort.

Afluenza, Disaffluenza, Hyperbolic-infurienza, Vacuous-illigitimenza – – – we used to just call them sociopaths and criminals.

I am sorry for the victims. I am sorry for the children of parents who think that coddling them and getting them out of the trouble they got themselves into so that the only lesson they learn is that there are no personal consequences for their behavior. Unfortunately, there were very real consequences for others because of their behavior.

We must be kind to our children and nurture them with love, respect, and kindness, giving in to their every whim so that they will feel good about themselves. Sometimes that should mean that they get the holy hell beaten out of them; but this, they tell us is child abuse.

Ask the survivors of the four dead people in Texas what they think. Ask the store clerk who had the gun held to his head as he was forced to kneel, thinking he was fixing to be executed by some young idiot committing a gun-crime with an illegally possessed firearm. Ask the parents who complained about the results of their child’s very dangerous and murderous behavior. Ask the psychologist who had to strain beyond the limits of professional credibility to offer that testimony; I wonder how he felt as they deposited the check he received from his testimony. Does he feel good about that? I hope he got enough from the affluent parents to be able to retire, thus removing himself from being able to do any more damage to the already specious field of psychology. Perhaps he will need counseling. I hope so. And I hope it will be effective. Likely, he will be told by some other psychologist that he is are suffering from Professional-Personal Dysphasia Syndrome, where the desire for personal gain overrides professional judgment.

Psychologists, please indulge me in my utter lack of respect for your profession. If you are truly a professional, you won’t mind. You likely have a name for it. If not, may I suggest Psycholophobia? How about Contemptomaina?

And to the young armed robber…you’re lucky that one of the four nine millimeter slugs that struck your body did not kill you. You’ll either remember that and never try armed robbery again, or you will have learned that you just need to go ahead and shoot everyone in the place as you begin your armed robbery, hopefully the former, but likely the latter. May the next slug strike you in a more vital place should you be so foolish as to try that again. Too bad your parents aren’t as affluent as the ones in Texas. You will likely spend time in prison, as you should, instead of the luxury of wearing an ankle bracelet as you go to and fro, reposing in the confines of your incredibly comfortable, well-appointed, affluent home, rather than serving as the unwilling sex-slave of many a hardened, lonely prison inmate. You must take your comfort where you can find it. The affluent Texas murderer will have many more options than you.

This is an incredible perversion of justice, all the way around. Shame on all the active participants except the shopper. The deceased and the store clerk were passive participants. Things worked out somewhat better for the store clerk than for the deceased Texas family.

Maybe the psychologists can explain why this bothers me. I’m sure you know I am waiting with baited breath.

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