As the old year crawled to an end, we all received a respite from boring campaign news by a reprise of the "affluenza" story.
To review: lawyers for Ethan Couch maintain that his parents spoiled him so thoroughly that he cannot tell right from wrong, that is, he is insane. They lost on that point, and he was convicted of drunk driving that resulted in the death of four people. BUT the sentencing judge seems to have concluded that there was a mitigating factor there, because he suspended the sentence of imprisonment. Maybe the judge simply wanted to reward the creation of a clever portmanteau.
Anyway, Couch never spent a day in lock up over those four deaths, although as a convicted felon he was required to check in regularly with his probation officer, and to give up alcohol.
Apparently, upon the surfacing of a video suggesting that he was violating the latter condition, he violated the former. He has disappeared.
So, in two sentences:
1) Couch was thought to have been a victim of moral spoilage because he had been coddled through his life so,
2) the legal system became complicit in the continued coddling.
The remarkable thing about the Couch case is that everybody seems to be on the same side. I haven' yet encountered anyone who defends the "affluenza" legal argument. BUT....
People still see it through their own ideological glasses:
if you are of the left, you'll see Couch as the beneficiary of white man/upper class privilege;
If you are of the right, you'll see the case as one of moral decay brought on by relativism, a permissive culture, etc.
And of course if you're an anarchist, you might make the observation that punishing the Couch's of the world, and deterring future Couch's, is one of the few core functions of the State that almost every non-anarchist agrees on, that is, that this is a dramatic failure at the core of the myth of sovereignty.