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Crime and No Punishment

A wealthy Texas teenager who killed four pedestrians in a DUI is being let off with only probation because he was afflicted with a curious disease: ‘affluenza’. No joke. The LA Times explains exactly how this dreaded scourge works:

A psychologist testified for the defense that the teen is a product of something he called “affluenza” and doesn’t link bad behavior with consequences because his parents taught him that wealth buys privilege, the psychologist said in court, according to media reports.

That psychologist cited one instance when the boy, then 15, was caught in a parked pickup with a naked 14-year-old girl who was passed out. He was never punished, the psychologist said, noting to the court that the teenager was allowed to drink at a very young age, and even began driving at 13.

We’re not highly-paid psychiatrist-consultants, but we do think there is one surefire cure for a bad case of ‘affluenza’: jail.

We’re also not, of course, in a position to judge all of the facts in the case; there could be much going on here that doesn’t come across in the article. But the idea that someone should get better treatment because he or she is wealthy and therefore has a poor moral compass is insane and destructive. It’s hard to imagine a greater perversion of the principle of equality before the law.

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  • Bruce

    This is the kind of thing that happens when a society loses its common sense. Despicable.

  • Anthony

    Crime and no punishment may educe systemic/class definition by the alert: i.e. before such defendants entranced judges (some certainly not all) sit properly inclined to rule that uncontrovertibly by law, logic, and society wealth is virtue and poverty crime.

    • Corlyss

      I must be tired. I didn’t understand a word of that, Anthony.

      • Anthony

        Get some rest; then alter your perspective as a perceptive Feed reader that should come natural.

  • qet

    This is a perfect emblem of our culture. We have allowed the concept of “disability” so much scope that there is no behavior whatever for which one cannot either find a named “Disorder” in the latest version of the DSM or, failing that, invent one on the spot. I am surprised that the psychologist didn’t name it “Affluent Immoral Disorder” or something like that. This decision equally reflects back on us our total surrender of all judgment formation to titled “experts.” This is the destination to which “progressive” ideas and politics have brought us. If this teenager is cute enough maybe he’ll get an airbrushed picture on the cover of Rolling Stone, like the Boston Marathon bomber, and then girls will swoon and call even his probation too harsh a sentence.

  • Anthony

    Affluenza may be latest example of the decay of American political institutions (decentralized legalistic approach and kin selection socialization perhaps).

    • Corlyss

      It’s certainly only the latest sign of the complete de-legitimization of the therapy culture. It goes along with the discrediting of punishment by the legal system. Of course it’s not the first time children of privilege got away without punishment, but the therapeutic community seems everready to jump into a legal situation and pronounce the perp a victim of society and therefore not responsible for his actions. The collapse of the rule of law in this country is hurtling us toward the banana republic category.

      • Kavanna

        While the teenager in question sounds highly narcissistic — poor boundaries and a strong sense of entitlement — no mental health professional I know would endorse this kind of defense. In our adverserial system, the defense is going to buy the best “expert” testimony it can get, of course. Probably the defense attorneys went through a list of shrinks and others before finding someone who would say what they needed, no matter how idiotic, in a courtroom.

        • Corlyss

          I’m not so sure. I’ve watched the Europeans use “advanced” social responses to wrong-doing that usually involve non-punishment or minimum punishment as a fig leaf for the fact that they don’t want to spend the money on prisons any more. They want to spend it on the safety net for the rest of the population. The disconnect between crime and punishment in Europe is going to end up biting them in posterior when the victimized voters push away the veil. The problem is that Libs/Dems/Progs everywhere pick up on the “advanced” social responses as something to imitated for social reasons, either forgetting or accepting tacitly the fact that those “advanced” doctrines are mere excuses for saving money so it can be spent on voters. Probably accompanies their secularization and removal for many functions from religion to the state.

  • Corlyss

    Society better wake up to these trends before the rule of law is a faint memory.

  • Joseph Blieu

    I’m sure the back story is that the Judge was somehow linked to the family and figured out a somewhat embarasing way to let him off while looking slightly stupid for a while till everyone forgets.

  • free_agent

    In a sense, it’s progress: At least the brat was put on trial. There have been many times and places where that wouldn’t have happened.

  • Jim__L

    Wasn’t the old book “Captains Courageous” about a successful therapy for this condition?

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