Lawyers believe a man is innocent until proven broke. [Robin Hall]
Two years ago, I wrote the post I'm Not Buying It, about affluenza, and in particular, how it was successfully used as a defense in a murder trial. If you missed it, or don't remember it, you might want to go check it out before reading this follow-up.
Go ahead... I'll wait.
No? Okay, if you don't want to be bothered to read the earlier post, no biggie. In a nutshell, while inebriated on beer and valium, a sixteen-year-old boy named Ethan Couch killed four people when he plowed his speeding truck into them. Eleven other people were injured, including some of his friends who were in the truck with him, one of whom will be paralyzed for life. But Couch wasn't concerned. He knew he'd get away with it, because he'd gotten away with every other thing he'd ever done. And he was right; essentially, he did get away with it. See, his lawyer claimed a defense of affluenza, and a psychologist testified that the boy was a product of affluenza, and thus, unable to link his bad behavior with consequences because he had been raised to believe wealth buys privilege. And the judge agreed.
The slap-on-the-wrist punishment rubbed me all kinds of the wrong way, and it did the same to a bunch of you who commented, as well. I wrote: If his so-called affliction was caused by a lack of consequences, how exactly does shielding him yet again from the consequences of his behavior cure that affliction? Talk about the ultimate irony. How will "getting out of it" change his behavior?
Turns out, I was right. It hasn't changed his behavior at all, and Couch is back in the news again. He's still in the midst of serving his ten years' probation, (big whoop!) but recently, a video surfaced of him boozing it up and partying wildly with the assistance of a beer bong. Which is, of course, a probation violation, even for someone who's never faced consequences for a damned thing he's ever done before. It seems his mother didn't want her widdle boy to face consequences this time, either. So the two of them skipped town. Skipped the whole country, as a matter of fact. They threw a bon voyage party of a sort, dyed his hair, slapped a fake beard on him, withdrew thirty thousand dollars (pocket change?) out of the bank, and took off for Mexico.
They were caught in a luxury hotel in Puerto Vallarta. I guess they thought it'd be safe to use one of their cell phones to order a pizza, huh?
They thought wrong.
However, the story hasn't ended. Although he remains in police custody in Mexico, his high-dollar lawyers are doing everything they can to prevent extradition. No telling how long it'll take before their stalling tactics run out and he's forced to come back to face the music. Maybe. Maybe for the first time in his life, he will have to pay some consequences.
His mama? She's already been sent back to Texas, where she began belly-aching bitterly about the conditions of the jail cell where she was being held. Earlier this week, she was released on bail. I'm sure she appreciates the accommodations of her home a lot more, but she probably isn't too thrilled with her new less-than-fashionable ankle bracelet.
Because young Couch will be turning eighteen in the spring, the sheriff and district attorney are trying to have his case transferred to the adult court. Then, affluenza or no affluenza, his long string of luck based on his perpetually winning hand of privilege may finally run out, and the only joker left standing may be... him.
So what do you think? Should he be tried as an adult? Serve time in jail? How about his mother? Should she serve time for taking him out of the country?
Ah yes, the rich truly are different. Like a post I saw on Facebook, most of us weren't raised with a case of affluenza... it was more a case of poorlio.
And you know what? I'd say we're all better off for it.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.