Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by sculptor, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Just about: "I ain't guilty on account of I am rich".
    And: The judge in the case bought it. 4 charges of vehicular manslaughter and only probation.

    Y'all buying this?
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  3. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    This is after all Texas, the state which thought a routine military exercise was a ruse for federal invasion and takeover of the state.

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  5. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Texans should kill themselves out of disgust.
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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Maybe it's the judge? Maybe it's the system?
    from wiki:
    Critics have also complained that the presiding judge—District Judge Jean Boyd—gave a much harsher sentence to another 16-year-old intoxicated driver 10 years earlier. In February 2004, Boyd sentenced Eric Bradlee Miller to 20 years, telling him, "the court is aware you had a sad childhood ... I hope you will take advantage of the services [offered by the Texas Youth Commission] and turn your life around."[22] Miller had killed one victim, not four, and had a much lower blood alcohol level (0.11 compared to Couch's 0.24) but was from a much poorer family.[22][23]
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Shouldn't this thread be in 'politics'?

    What does it have to do with science?
  9. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Why politics? Justice isn't political. Perhaps Ethics, Morality, and Justice would be a better fit.
  10. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Move it where it makes you feel comfortable. If you are happy, I'm happy.

    Man as a social animal--"human science" seemed a good fit.
    Claiming that "justice isn't political" could be somewhat naive?
    What do you find about this issue that seems ethical or moral?
  11. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Why is Lady Justice blindfolded?
  12. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    which is, of course an ideal, also known as a fiction, a fantasy, a puff of smoke in the wind...etc...
    a walking shadow...a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
    maybe I'm just feeling a tad cranky today?
  13. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    All justice systems tend to favour the rich. In the US, it's much worse than the norm, because the judges don't have to be bribed directly* (which is illegal, even in Texas). Since they're elected and American elections are beribboned public auctions, judges know who is likely to get them elected, or spoil their chances of being elected, and who doesn't count. Those who don't count politically (the poor, African and Hispanic) become fodder for his 'record': Judge Boyd has put this many criminals behind bars!

    * Not that they're necessarily above taking the odd kick-back from private prisons.
  14. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    She can still smell money.
    Billy T and sculptor like this.
  15. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Just because a scientist is a poor scientist, it doesn't make science any less a science.
  16. Bells Staff Member

    This term is cropping up more often now. And it is targeted at the wealthy and rich.. An argument or defense that stems from people who are so rich and wealthy or who come from very privileged homes are not taught about consequences when it comes to their actions. Is this possible? Personally I think it's a load of bunk. But this is now a defense in Texas, at least.

    From a psychological or scientific perspective, affluenza means something else and frankly, it is not scientific or psychological and has more to do about society and greed in general. The question that should be asked is whether this new meaning should apply from a psychological perspective. The co-author of the book, "Affluenza: The all consuming epidemic" and who made a film about the subject, wrote an article after the Couch decision was handed down:

    Our film, seen by millions, led to a best-selling book of the same name, published in 2001. We did not invent the word “affluenza”—it may have been coined in 1954 by the head of a family foundation who sponsored research on wealth—but my co-producer, co-authors and I certainly popularized the term. We defined it as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

    Ours was social criticism, not psychiatry. We laid bare the ugly consequences—both social and environmental—of America’s obsession with wealth and materialism. It was partly tongue-in-cheek—our film even included a comedy news segment wherein the Joneses—“that family we’ve all been trying to keep up with for years”—formally surrenders.

    Like most Americans, I was appalled by Ethan Couch decision. The “affluenza” plea seems about as serious as the famous “Twinkie defense” that Dan White used in his trial for killing Harvey Milk. And if Couch is not responsible for his actions, but rather a victim of poor parenting, then why shouldn’t his parents serve the time?

    It seems clear that this decision is really special treatment for the rich, who often go unpunished for their misdeeds. Imagine an inner city kid claiming he stole Nikes because he had “affluenza” and wasn’t taught responsibility by his parents. Not likely to work in a country where a homeless, freezing, Texas man spent months in prison for stealing blankets, or where Curtis Wilkerson got life in California for shoplifting a pair of socks.

    Liberals and conservatives alike have condemned the Texas decision. But before we cast the first stones, let’s admit that Couch’s actions do reflect our national “affluenza.” After all, we have exalted consumerism above other values. And while we pride ourselves for our “exceptionalism,” we have for years been exceptionally irresponsible in our naked pursuit of wealth.

    We refuse to increase taxes on millionaires while cutting food stamps for the poor, and advocate cutting social security while ignoring the obscene bonuses of bankers whose speculation caused the 2008 crash. We allow thousands to die each year for lack of health insurance. We strip the mountains of Appalachia and poison our water to continue our addiction to fossil fuels. We have made war under false premises while our drones kill civilians with impunity. We have supported murderous dictators—think Pinochet or Rios Montt—to assure continued profits. We could virtually end world hunger at an annual expense equal to what we give our military every week, but we refuse to do it. And we deny our role in changing the climate in drastic ways.

    All of these actions flow from affluenza, greed, and refusal to consider consequences. We rage about the Couch decision but ignore our greater responsibility to the world and future generations. In 1877, the Sioux chief Sitting Bull spoke of the light-skinned people who were overrunning his lands: “They make many laws which the rich may break but the poor may not, and the love of possession is a disease with them.”

    That’s the real “affluenza.”

    Are children, in particular, who are brought up in a way where they are never disciplined, never taught about actions and subsequent consequences, suffering from "affluenza" (as per the new meaning)? And should a similar argument be made for parents who are brought up in poor households with little to no discipline? I think de Graaf is correct. The real "affluenza" stems from allowing such a defense to be mounted and then accepted in a court room. One clinical psychologist referred to it as junk science and it is difficult to disagree with his assessment, especially when you look at what the actual term "affluenza" is meant to describe:

    Affluenza seems mainly the product of pop psychology, and it doesn’t even mean what Couch’s defense lawyers intended it to mean. It is generally characterized as a contagious social disease, typified by a “keeping up with the Joneses” materialism, spending and debt. According to Gregory McNeal in Forbes, the term affluenza is often used in tax and estate law, albeit even there with some skepticism. Given all of this, how affluenza came to be so influential in a criminal case is astounding. Our legal system has protections against using junk science in court decisions. I have not read transcripts of the trial, but I would be surprised if prosecutors made no effort to challenge the use of affluenza in this case.

    Couch may very well have mental health issues. Few psychologists would argue that being raised in an atmosphere of instant gratification and negligible consequences for bad behavior is healthy for child development. In addition, Couch’s risky behavior might indicate alcoholism and, if he truly were evidencing a pathological sense of entitlement or lack of empathy for others, it’s possible he might be diagnosable with a personality disorder. These are legitimate conditions, although they typically do not result in such a massive reduction in sentencing as was seen in this case. It is ironic that, in arguing Couch is a victim of bad parenting free of consequences for antisocial behavior, the defense and judge appear to have merely continued exactly this pattern, demanding unbelievably soft consequences for the death of four.

    It is hard to escape the conclusion that money and privilege did indeed influence this case, but not through a psychological illness. Instead, the judge managed to convey the impression that the wealthy are able to buy a different justice from the poor. Some news reports are comparing Couch’s outcome to that of a 14-year-old African American boy sentenced to 10 years juvenile detention by the same judge for one death resulting from a punch. The cases aren’t identical, to be sure, but they convey an impression that wealth matters to the criminal justice system.

    Couch has now gone missing, along with his mother, and they assume they have fled the country.

    It seems de Graaf is correct. The real "affluenza" here is that Couch got away with murder because his parents are rich. It is junk science as used by Couch's attorney's. But it does open up a whole can of worms between the have's and the have not's.

    I do think this thread belongs in Ethics Morality and Justice.
    zgmc and sculptor like this.
  17. sunnevershines Registered Member

    Jesus, doesnt everybody know that it costs money for a good defense---no money=public defender=20 years! Are you just now seeing how unbalanced the system is?

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