Our generation got slapped with a new diagnosis this week- ‘affluenza.’ Okay, whatever, cool story bro. What’s really fucked up is the context that surrounds it’s origin.
A lawyer defended this 16-year-old kid by saying he suffered from ‘affluenza’ (not an official disorder in the DSM) because he grew up in wealthy circumstances and never had any ‘limits’ set on him, making the fact he killed four and critically injured two others basically meaningless. North Texan Ethan Couch, whose history of drunk driving started when he was 13, got in his pickup with three other friends, two of them sitting in the truck bed, after getting drunk off beer they stole from Wal-Mart. He ended up hitting four people along the side of the road, a man’s wife and daughter, their friend, and a youth pastor. One of Couch’s friends is now paralyzed for life and his family is suing the Couch family for $20 million to take care of him. His punishment? The prosecution wanted 20 years in jail. Judge Jean Boyd gave him 10 years probation and a trip to a rehab facility that costs nearly half a million dollars a year where you get to ride horses, exercise, and eat awesome food. Couch’s defense argued it was the best sentence over jail time for a juvenile. Anderson Cooper calls it a vacation and I completely agree with him. Not to mention the racial aspects surrounding this judge’s decision. Judge Boyd gave another kid 10 years in jail for punching someone who happened to fall, hit his head and die; this kid was also black. Both situations are so unfortunate, but the double standard is screaming in our faces. This story makes me fucking furious and I shake my head at how stupid people can be sometimes.
Fucking rich people man. And it’s not that I’m jelly or anything. I can say with full confidence I am a typical Gen-Y stereotype and that my loving parents pay my way through life. Because of their hard work, I got to go to an awesome school, I drive a new car, I am able to live in Southern California, and I’m no stranger to private jets. And yeah, sometimes it is fun to be a spoiled little bitch, but at the end of the day the truth is I’m no better than anyone else. I do plan to be a millionaire one day, I do plan to get a chateau and some sick whips, but I also want to help preserve forests and endangered animals, build schools in Africa, and leave a legacy of making the world a better place than I found it rather than getting busted for being wasted in front of clubs or throwing bongs out of windows. Lorde should be our role model from now on.
The truth is that the excuse of ‘affluenza’ is pure bullshit. It’s a real problem and it obviously affects everyone, but it’s not a real disorder, it’s a social trend. Rich kids getting away with the messed up things they do to people isn’t new. Haven’t you ever heard of the Kennedy family? The Bush family? It’s been happening fools! Don’t make some word up and slap it on a generation that just so happens to be the most entitled ever (that I don’t disagree with). ‘Affluenza’ happens when people can’t handle their shit with money and end up making the morally wrong decisions because of it. Everyone in that case except for the prosecution is infected with ‘affluenza,’ the judge included. We aren’t all monsters drowning in our parents money. But of course, there always has to be some easy explanation for it, even if it makes no sense. But then who really is to blame? The spoiled little shit who gives no value to human life? Perhaps his parents for not raising their son right, or maybe their parents for not raising them right either? The judge with an apparent soft spot for rich white kids? What about the issue of punishment? Bring back Roman crucifixion? Certainly not a luxury rehab resort. A lot of people say he deserves jail.
I don’t think either one is the best answer. Let’s get something straight, this kid ideally deserves far worse than jail, even for the most rapey jail imaginable. We are now taking bets on when he’ll violate his probation. But neither rehab vacation or a butt pounding will teach this kid the lesson he should be learning after such a horrific mistake. This kid needs perspective to understand the true value of life, to understand the responsibility of his actions, and to not be such a fuck boy. When has jail in this country ever been synonymous with people learning how to be productive members of the community? At this rate, Ethan Couch will be forever useless to society until he plows a Lamborghini into something harder than people. His parents should be punished too, probably prevented from having future offspring and get parental counseling at the least. I guess you can’t blame them for trying to get their son out of jail though, who wouldn’t? And is it anymore obvious that someone seriously needs to investigate this judge?
So no jail but rehab isn’t good either. The more practical punishment would be to sign him up with a rehab that actually teaches its patients, not clients, more correct moral values through hard work in a third-world country where finding clean water is an entire days task, where the only food available has to be hunted or harvested, and basic education is the most valuable resource there is. A year of that kind of work would make a better humanitarian than jail or privileged rehab any day, but this might make too much sense for most rich families. Or maybe a few years of helping out families who are victims of drunk driving? Rich people have more responsibility than most to teach their children how to handle wealth. Haven’t you ever seen Downton Abbey? That family runs the town but their kids aren’t fucking idiots, getting drunk and acting out, ruining the lives of all the lesser folk around them. Times are different from then, but sometimes not.
Unfortunately, this story has to be a sad reminder of the importance to teach the youth good values, otherwise nothing will ever get solved and the cycle continues. Please, if you are rich and you have kids, spank them when they act out, teach them to use money to help others, and raise them with the responsibility to make the world a better place. It’s not right to judge this kid and his family and condemn them to whatever our imaginations can think of, but I’m a firm believer in karma and I think that Ethan and his parents are going to get whatever’s coming to them in the future.