Some teenage kid and his rich friends sneak into Walmart and steal a few beers. They hop into their wealthy buddy’s pickup truck as they begin laughing and goofing around like normal teenage boys do, until they begin gulping down a generous amount of their stolen alcohol. The boy who undeservingly is behind the wheel speeds three times over the limit and strikes down one, two, three, then even four people as he runs rampant across the streets of Texas while intoxicated. You get a call. Your husband, your friend, your coworker, your daughter, or someone that is very close to you was killed.
That boy who killed your loved one? He doesn’t even have to spend a night in jail, pick up a piece of trash as part of community serivce, and doesn’t even need to loose a wink of sleep over it. You have lost someone near and dear to you over a kid’s stupid mistake, and he doesn’t get reprimanded. How could he get away with such a thing?
Affluenza. One word let off a kid who’s hands had been bloodied with the manslaughter of four people. The technical defintion is “a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation”. Simply said, however, it’s the claim that rich kids don’t know any better.
Ethan Couch is a wealthy Texas teen, who’s defense lawyer claimed that he was never taught right from wrong. His wealth was an obstacle in his life, according to his attorney.
To me, this claim is a load of melarkey. He didn’t know right from wrong? Let me run through the night of the crime slowly. First, he stole alcohol from Walmart. His wealthy parents probably never taught him stealing was wrong because he could afford to buy a lot of things anyways. Even still, however, there are loads of actions movies that depict the bad guy as being some criminal mastermind who plans on robbing a bank. Even Disney movies teach you stealing in wrong: Aladdin is chased by the whole town for stealing a loaf of bread and Flynn Rider gets hunted down by the royal guards for stealing the crown. Unless his mansion is placed under a large rock, I am confident he knew not to steal, especially alcohol, which is illegal to purchase or consume under 21.
Second mistake of the night: consuming alcohol while operating a motor vehicle and flying sky-high over the speed limit. Maybe his parents never taught him this lesson either, but he’s a 16-year-old boy who must have recently gotten his driver’s license, so driving school lessons should still be fresh in his mind. I am about to begin taking driving school myself, and I’ve heard all the tales from my friends. They show you videos all the time of accidents caused by drunk drivers and often warn you about the dangers of drinking and driving. So it wasn’t just the parent’s responsibilty to teach him this lesson; it was the state of Texas’s responsibility. He was operating a car, so he sat through those lessons. He’s smart enough to read the numbers on the speed limit sign and not exceed them. Perhaps not while intoxicated, but that is also a major fault of his. And I’m not even going to begin to enter the topic of manslaughter, which is clearly wrong in anyone’s right mind.
The judge of the case condemned Ethan Couch to only 10 years of probation due to affluenza. People were outraged–Twitter blew up with hateful comments against the judge for giving Ethan such a cushy punishment. He essentially just got a slap on the wrist for killing 4 people. A lot of people, including Eric Boyles, who’s wife and daughter had been killed by Ethan, think that if he had been a kid of a lower social status, the verdict would be completely different.
According to The Huffington Post, Eric Boyles stated, “Money always seems to keep you out of trouble. Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If you had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different.” I agree with Mr. Eric Boyles. Money can be a deciding factor in some issues, but shouldn’t we all be equal before the law? Eric Boyles lost two of the most important people to him to a kid who can go back to his normal, cushioned lifestyle, when he cannot.
This case caused an uproar in social media and politics. According to Politico, a California politic proposed that they put a ban on the affluenza defense so that nothing like this ever happens again. I’m glad that some state governments are taking a stand on this topic. It’s important to not let someone else get away with such an awful crime without any form of punishment because then, as the prosecution said, he will go on believing that he can get away with anything.
Everyone makes mistakes, no matter how large, and a big part of that is learning from those mistakes. So my question is, what happens to Ethan Couch now that he can’t learn from those atrocious mistakes?