The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Affluenza? Really?

It has been a little over 10 days since the (juvenile court) judge in Texas sentenced a 16-year-old to ten years probation and rehab for a DUI related crash that killed 4 people. The reason she was lenient? Something called "affluenza." That term is applied, in this case, to describe the mental condition of a teen who was essentially spoiled rotten by his wealthy parents.

This, of course, raised hackles and triggered outrage in the media and throughout the nation. People are outraged on both the Left and the Right, as well as in the Middle.

I am going to defend the judge.

Yes, I know that can get me some hate mail. I am defending the judge for a number of reasons. In the first place, it was not involved in adjudicating guilt or innocence, it was used as a mitigation factor for sentencing and, as that, it is not functionally different from the "abusive childhood" often (maybe routinely) used by those who have committed heinous crimes and are facing sentencing after conviction. The difference between a child who was physically and emotionally abused in his youth and this 16-year-old is one of perspective.

Do you hate the rich? Then you will likely come down hard on the judge. But you may also feel sympathy (if not empathy) for the physically and emotionally abused poor defendant facing a death sentence or LWOP for some horrible death he caused. The difference seems to hinge on the perception of the abuse involved. Abuse in the form of regular denigration and rejection as a child seems much worse than spoiling a child with gifts and repeatedly getting him out of scrapes.  I get that. But emotional abuse is painful, no matter what its form, and the individual eventually can reach a point where h becomes indifferent (loses all empathy) to the suffering of others and expresses that in cruelty toward innocents.

Ask yourself, those four who were killed that night by a drunken, doped up, spoiled child that night this question: will those four people come back to life if the boy goes to prison? The answer, of course, is "no." We can no longer help those people. So the next question is: will his incarceration help the families overcome their grief and loss? To some extent, we have to say "yes." But is that really what justice is about?

I am torn. On the one hand, I dislike clever defense lawyers who manufacture innovative strategies which help their clients escape responsibility or get lenient treatment. On the other hand, I would not hesitate to hire one of these if I got in trouble.

In this particular case, I feel great sympathy for the families of those the boy killed. I even feel sympathy for the family of the boy who was paralyzed in the accident, the boy who was along for the ride and, one could say, aided and abetted the commission of this crime. I recognize the hypocrisy inherent in these feelings.

And, yet, it would be even more hypocritical to support the "abused childhood" mitigation strategy for the poor and condemn it for the rich.

It's just my opinion. Yours may be quite different.


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