Friday, December 13, 2013

Affluenza??


Antonio grows up on the mean streets of Newark. His father was incarcerated for selling drugs when Antonio was only six. His mother is a crack addicted welfare queen. Consequently, Antonio is left to his own devices and soon turns into your garden variety thug. At age 16, on a whimsical impulse, Antonio decides to randomly cold-cock the first old woman he encounters on the street. He does so with lethal result. Unfortunately for Antonio, the attack occurs on a street that is covered by security cameras. The tapes reveal beyond doubt that he is the killer. He is arrested and tried for murder in Juvenile Court. Even though he’s a minor, he is convicted and sentenced to a minimum of ten years in prison.

Jonathan grows up in a gated community in Fort Worth. His father earns a seven figure income as a hedge fund manager and his mother is the tennis champion at the most exclusive Country Club in Texas. They don’t particularly get along very well, but the one thing they do agree on is the fact that their son can do no wrong. His every whim is indulged from the very first day that they handed him to his Hispanic nanny until his 16th birthday, when he decides to steal a couple of cases of beer from a convenience store, then go for a drunken joy ride in his $40,000 pickup truck. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he plows into four people on the side of the road fixing a tire and kills all four of them. He is arrested and charged with DUI and vehicular homicide, and tried in Juvenile Court. Only, instead of ten years in prison, Jonathan is released into the protective custody of a swanky California retreat for therapy that will allow him to ride horses, surf, and work on his tan while getting in touch with his inner child. Jonathan’s lawyer successfully argued that he was a victim of affluenza, a heretofore unknown affliction, whose victims are insanely rich white suburban kids who have never been taught right from wrong by their upwardly mobile parents, consequently develop an entitlement complex that makes them resistant to impulse control, and therefore cannot be held responsible for their actions.

So, apparently being a spoiled brat is now a winning defense for murder. Set aside for a moment the fact that when I was a kid, being a spoiled brat served as an explanation for bad behavior, not an excuse for it. The fact that an actual sitting judge bought this argument is the real outrage here. Jean Boyd is her name. Her decision in this case is the sort of thing that historically has sent people pouring into the streets with torches and pitchforks. Her reasoning amounts to stupidity on stilts and she is a disgrace to the bench.

Everyone understands that money buys preferential treatment. It is the way of this fallen world. No legal system ever conceived on this planet has been able to free itself of its influence. But every legal system worth its salt makes the attempt at justice, strives mightily for the impartial application of the law. When this sort of case comes up, when money prevents justice so egregiously, it shakes us, or at least it should. When our legal system becomes the best legal system money can buy, the foundations of society begin to rumble. When Jonathan’s parents are allowed to casually write a $450,000 check for their son’s therapy spa vacation, but not one red cent to the families of the victims lying dead on a north Texas road, something is dreadfully wrong with our civilization.

Sleep well Judge Boyd, sleep well.