A New ‘Affluenza’ Epidemic

Remember back in 2015, when I wrote about Ethan Couch, the ‘affluenza teen’?  Most of you probably weren’t readers of this blog yet at that time, so I will include links to the series of posts I did about him, in case you’re interested.  In a nutshell, Ethan Couch stole two cases of beer from a store, then stole his father’s pickup truck, then with seven passengers in tow, driving 70mph in a 40mph zone, crashed into an SUV and a Volkswagen, killing four people.

couch

Ethan Couch

Couch was initially sentenced to ten years’ probation in juvenile court after his lawyer argued that it was not his fault, but the fault of his parents because he had been so privileged that he was incapable of discerning right from wrong or understanding the consequences of his actions.  After violating the terms of his probation in a most blatant manner, a judge finally sentenced him to 720 consecutive days in jail and he was set free in April 2018.

brock turner

Brock Allen Turner

And then there was Brock Allen Turner, who I wrote about in mid-2016.  Turner raped an unconscious woman on the campus of Stanford University after a party.  There were witnesses, so there was no question of his guilt.  After eight days of testimony, the jury returned with a ‘guilty’ verdict.  Based on that verdict, Turner could have faced up to 14 years in prison.  The judge sentenced him to 180 days in jail, saying …

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

With time off for “good behaviour”, Turner served only three months.

Well, it’s just happened again, folks.  It actually happened two years ago, but for reasons I will explain in a minute, has only made headlines this week.  An unnamed New Jersey teen, 16 years of age with the initials G.M.C. raped an unnamed, intoxicated, teenage girl, again at a party.  But, he didn’t stop there … he went on to video record himself raping the girl, then sent it to seven of his friends, texting them, [w]hen your first time having sex was rape.”

Monmouth County prosecutors in 2017 sought to charge the boy as an adult with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, among other charges.  His behavior, prosecutors said, was “sophisticated and predatory,” warranting a waiver of the juvenile to adult court.  I agree.  The rape itself was bad enough, but the fact that he recorded it and then bragged about it, sharing the recording with seven friends, to me indicates that there was no remorse whatsoever, that he was well aware that what he did was wrong, and that he was proud to have been a jerk.

The New Jersey family court judge, one Judge James Troiano, however, had other ideas.

“This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well…He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college.”

James Troiano

Judge James Troiano

He went on to say that that the boy’s alleged actions didn’t fit “the traditional case of rape” — which, according to him, occurs when “two or more men” “clearly manhandle” a victim at gunpoint.  Say WHAT???  When did the definition of ‘rape’ change to include guns and two or more men??? As to the teen’s text message to his friends referring to the rape, Troiano dismissed it as “stupid crap” a 16-year-old says to his friends.  Judge Troiano also noted that the young male had been an “Eagle scout”.  Oh, surely he must be pure of heart and spirit then, eh?  Oh yes, one more thing.  Judge Troiano said that the girl and her family should have been told that bringing charges against the boy could have a “devastating effect” on his life.  Again … Say WHAT???  Methinks the good judge has a mistaken notion of who is the victim here!

Now, two years later, an appellate court has overturned Troiano’s decision and also admonished Judge Troiano for deciding the case on his own, when he had only been tasked with deciding if the youth should be tried as an adult or a juvenile.  GMC will now be tried as an adult. And two days later, the same appellate panel overturned a similar ruling by another judge in the case of a 16-year-old male raping a 12-year-old female.  In that case, family court Judge Marcia Silva determined the teen’s actions were not “heinous” because the victim only lost her virginity and bled, which the judge believed was not “especially serious harm.”

Is this, then, the new culture in the United States?  It isn’t behaviour or morality, but only how much money one has that determines guilt or innocence, especially in cases of crimes against women?  Think about this … the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct multiple times, and his response was that “when you’re famous, they let you do it”.  We all remember the famous ‘grab ‘em by the {ahem}’ remark, right?  Do we women need to start carrying a baseball bat with us wherever we go?

And the whole thing begs the question … what if the young lad had been poor … what if he had been black or Hispanic?  Would the judge then have allowed him to be tried as an adult?  Would he have, perhaps, received a 20-year sentence?  What sort of message does this send to the children who had the luck-of-the-draw to be born into wealthy families?  Or poor families?  And when these wealthy spoiled brats get by with a slap on the wrist, what message does that send to them for their future?  “Oh, fine, as long as I stay rich, I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and suffer no consequences.”  We are one screwed up nation.  Think about it.


Links to posts about Ethan Couch:

And Brock Turner:

64 thoughts on “A New ‘Affluenza’ Epidemic

  1. I see, Jill, you preempted my question. Would it have been the same outcome had the defendants been black and poor?
    Would the judge have ruled they have been fucked by circumstances and need leaner sentences and probably rehabilitation to be upstanding members of the community?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. These and so many other cases prove that there is an open bias in the courtrooms. The Central Park Five served more time for a rape they DIDN’T commit than all those frat boy predators entire sentences. Let that sink in. In this country, if you’re White and have a good amount of money, you get treated with kid’s gloves if you break a law. These cases disgust me. I was talking to another blogger about similar issues and I have a theory that the judges (who should also be punished) might be affecting the FBI crime stats once so many POC groups (especially Black people) pointed out the stats of White crime by giving these criminals shorter sentences assuming if the charges stick at all. Injustice really is everywhere in America and it’s color coded while eying back accounts.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m with you 100%. I have long thought that as a nation, as a society, we were moving in the right direction … toward equality for all, toward an annihilation of bigotry in all its many forms, toward general acceptance and compassion for all. I was wrong. Or, if I was right once upon a time, it changed sometime in the last decade or so. Why? A lot of reasons, but the long and short of it is that if you are not white, Christian and straight in this country, you are considered a second-class citizen. Money talks, they say, and in this country it speaks quite loudly. No doubt you are right about the effect on the crime stats. And on a related note, you know how Trump claims that his Muslim ban was to prevent terrorism which is “so much a problem”? Well, guess what? 99% of terrorism in this nation is domestic terrorism … white people, born in this nation, who have an axe to grind. But, let’s blame Muslims, or maybe Latinos for it. Welcome to the United States of Bigotry!

      Liked by 1 person

    • “If you are White and have a lot of money,” it is not “if you break a law,” but if you get caught breaking a law. Most of the money rich people make comes from finding the loopholes plutocrstic governing bodies always leave lying around. But the remainder is made by breaking laws, and using some of that money to pay for lawyers who can make it seem no laws are being broken. Laws are written in favour of non-cloured people. Then along comes trump to reinterpret the law to help the rich make even more money.
      I read somewhere Trump said the only thing stopping him from being even richer is the Federal Reserve, which means there isn’t enough money available for him and all his ILK WORMS. (Sorry, but I have to pat myself on the back for the term, it is jyst so beautifully appropriate.) They probably would love to print more money, but that would chance printing too much and devaluing what they already have.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Good point about people getting caught and the aftermath of those situations. It’s like they can find loopholes or re-writing laws. Oh wait, laws were mainly made to punish any non-Caucasian group.

        I didn’t hear about that quote, but I’m not surprised. Yeah, that would easily lead to hyperinflation on so many levels especially since the US dollar is backed by credit as opposed to tangible standard such as gold or silver.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m not sure where I read that quote, but it almost sounds too i telligent for Trump. The thing is, I know he is a lot smarter than he pretends. He may not be a genius, but he is an “idiot savant.”

          Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right … I suppose it has always been so, but it is more in the public eye these days, with social media and lightning speed communication. No, you’re not cynical … you’re a realist, as am I.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Misogyny, white privilege and power all on display here. One step forward…two steps back in the good ole’ USA. Two terms of the first African-American elected President. And now? Never mind. The last vestiges of this power are not going to release it without a fight. You and I are on the right side of what is right, and just Jill. Excellent piece as always.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep. Wealth and power go hand in hand, and it seems that most people do not have the strength of character to resist using them for evil. There are exceptions, but in this country today, it seems that the exceptions are few. We are indeed taking multiple steps backward. I fear to ask the question “What next?” Lynching? Slavery? Take away women’s right to vote? Sadly, nothing would surprise me at this juncture. Yes, you and I and a whole lot of others are on the side of right, but the trouble is, we play fair and clean … the other side doesn’t. Sigh. Thanks, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a big fan of science and this may be somewhat off subject, but not really.

    Ive been reading and looking at Utube about whether we have free will or not and it’s a mix of views. It’s natural to feel that we do, but according to some neuroscientists, we don’t. They have actually done tests that show your brain makes a choice or decision milliseconds before you are aware that you do, which leads to speculation that there is not free will.

    Most of this is over my head, but it would explain this very real change in human behavior we are seeing. It gives me a sense, not in a religious way, that this change was there from the very beginning. That it was somehow encoded in the very beginnings of the universe…first structure, then early life, intelligent life, a successful period and then decline and finally demise of all of it. Our little part on just our meager planet with us being so called intelligent, following the scientifically predestined demise. It is probably to either make room for new life forms or keeping some kind of balance of planets with self aware life forms.

    Perhaps it’s just “written in the stars” that this will end and what usually brings an end is chaos, strife conflict..because it’s the vehicle for an end.

    I try to think this way…the long long view, because otherwise it can be too overwhelming. There has to be some hidden logic and pattern that we do not see and it’s always inevitable. I can think of no other reason our world is like it is today…not just trump and the trumpers, but look worldwide…all kinds of problems, climate change, over population, wealth inequities, food shortages to come etc. etc.

    Oh well I’m rambling..need more coffee! It probably made no sense…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Makes some sense to me Mary. I do not think we have free will. We cannot step away from society, not pay taxes, live wherever we want, or provide just for ourselves and our family. Even the last vestiges of primitive tribes found in Amazon rain forest are disappearing – murdered, driven out and displaces by land purchases and logging companies. There are no societies left that can live in freedom.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hmmmm … definitely food for thought. I’m not sure I would fully agree, but worth thinking about. It does make a degree of sense, but the problem I have with it all is that then where is the incentive to try to do things better, to try to make the world a better place. If, for example, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela had believed in manifest destiny, had believed that mankind has no free will, would they have done the great things they did for humanity? We all believe we make a difference of some sort, and in order to actually make that difference, I think we must believe in free will. Now … I, too, am ready for another cup of coffee! ☕

      Liked by 3 people

        • People like us, people of compassion, of conscience, people who think logically, will never understand what drives those who blindly follow the likes of Trump. We will drive ourselves insane trying to figure it out, but I think we will never understand.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Making a decision milliseconds before we realize what that decision is seems like free will to me. If decisions were made minutes or millions of years before we made them, that would probably be significant. Microseconds, what is really being measured. It could just be two related or unrelated bits of data coming together that finally makes a decision possible. Or it could just be the lead time between a decision being made and the measuring device starting to measure it. The possibilities found in a space of microseconds are undefinable. Speculation or theoretical thinking is not necessarily truth. There are some things we do habitually, or obsessively, that we can only stop with a strong will, and for me that will is free.
          Having an addictive personality, and overcoming addictions totally on my own, changing my beliefs despite how well they were ingrained, learning to approach unsolvable problems from different or new directions, these and other things tell me my will is not dependent on anyone or anything but me. And in my opinion, if I can do these things, so can everyone else. Maybe not right now, but with the right experiences behind oneself all things are possible. Where does that experience come from? Reincarnation.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Oh I basically agree. The point I think is…is that the brain decides before “you” do. I just find it interesting. There’s a lot of stuff on this and other theoretical issues on Utube..especially a site called… Closer to the Truth. It’s all physicists, cosmologists and the like…

            Liked by 1 person

            • Just because these are scientists saying these things does not make them right. They are guessing that they are seeing someone making a decision. It’s like talking to an ant, you can think you know what an ant is talking about, but you really have no idea.
              You could also look at it from another angle, and that is decisions could be made subconciously first, and that could be what they are seeing.
              I try not to believe everything I read, though some things seem so right I believe them until I find out for sure they are wrong. Since I had my first discussion about free will and determinism in school, I have never doubted that humanity has free will. And not just humans. but other beings seem to be able to think. I won’t commit myself one way or the other. I know how I define thinking, but I have no idea how an ant defines thinking, or a redwood tree, if they can define thinking. I think they can, in their own terms. Am I crazy?

              Liked by 1 person

  5. I realize the need to go after these “boys,” something needs to be done. But why aren’t we going after the judges in these cases. The boys are beasts, no doubt, but it is the judges who are changing the social fabric. How many other affluent people did they let off with a slap on the wrists, or less? If you are going to have criminal law, then you have to make those who flaunt them accountable too. I fear what you are showing here is less than the tip of the iceberg. These were cases that made the news. Millions of cases did not. How many of them were also travesties of justice? Rich white boys are not angels by any stretch of the imagination, they have committed other crimes. Poor or middle class white boys probably are handed favours too! Any black boys pay more for their crimes, I’m willing to bet.
    What if someone were to go through the cases of just one judge, what would they find? And how many judges are there in the USA? That would be a story to tell…

    Liked by 3 people

    • The judge in the Brock Turner case was recalled, and it is likely that Judge Troiano is not going to be allowed to serve past his current term, so slowly, the judges are being removed who make these terrible calls. I don’t know about your country or others, but here in the U.S. it seems that there are actually two completely separate sets of laws & punishments … one for the wealthy, white population (especially males, but females too), and one for the rest of us. The poor who cannot afford the best legal representation, the minorities … we stand no chance against the Ethan Couch’s and Brock Turners of the world.

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      • The only knowledge I can give you about our legal system is that when I was a defendent in court over a car accident, and I affirmed to tell the truth rather than swearing on a bible, the judge immediately turned against me and believed everything my opponent said, even though it was complete lies. He had sworn on the bible it would be true, and that meant more to the judge than what was actually said. He gave me a fine which I never paid. I waited a long time to be arrested for contempt of court, but it never happened.

        Liked by 2 people

        • So much for separation of church and state, eh? Swearing on a bible, to me, has about as much meaning as swearing on an ear of corn or a cat turd. Just look … Trump swore on a stupid bible to uphold the Constitution and look how he’s shredded it instead. I’m glad you refused to, and also that they didn’t come after you for the fine! Another way in which the animal kingdom is superior to humans … they don’t feel a need to make up stories to make themselves feel superior to others. Sigh.

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          • Welllll………
            Little dogs do make up stories about being big dogs. And they tell anyone willing to listen how big and tough they really are. They just have no idea how weak their voices sound…
            And my cat Diabola tries, quite successfully at times, to stell stories about how her Daddy belongs only to her and her Mama. She is very territorial, to my detriment. Gail gets to sleep with cats all around her, sometimes even Diabola, but no one else sleeps with me. So on those nights when she is off doing her own thing, or holding a petty grudge because I did not give her enough Kitty Kandy, I have to sleep alone.
            Animals do tell stories, if you listen properly.
            But not the kind of stories humans tell. Thank god for that!

            Liked by 1 person

                • Oh yes, cats can certainly be vicious, but they’re straightforward about it. Speaking of stabbing in the back, though. We used to have a cat, another rescue, named Pickles. She had been used in “experiments” and wasn’t quite right emotionally/mentally. She had some of the oddest mishaps, like getting he head stuck in an empty corn can, getting hung in the slats of the horizontal blinds, etc. And she could be mean. This was back when I worked full-time, Chris was in college, and Miss Goose was at a sitters all day, so no human was home when the maintenance man came to change the furnace filter. He was bent over putting in the new filter when she jumped on his back and dug her claws in! Lucky he didn’t sue us, or we didn’t get evicted, but when he went to the next apartment, where my friends Kim & Jerry lived, he told her that he had been sure he was about to die. Shortly after that, they stopped changing furnace filters and now we have to do our own. Which reminds me …

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  6. If these boys are not going to be imprisoned because it might spoil their futures, I suggest chemical castration so that all the girls at the college are going to be safe from these predators. 10 or 20 years down the line if they have behaved and contributed towards society maybe they can be given back their life in case they marry.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well … your idea has merit, though I have no idea how one could go about implementing it. It has multiple advantages, though! The abortion issue would likely be put to rest, for there wouldn’t be any accidental teenage pregnancies. The world is overpopulated — this would certainly slow down population growth and allow us to re-build food supplies, refresh the land. So many advantages here, but I’m not sure I would even give them back their right to reproduce at a later stage. 😉
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

    • chemical castration does not work effectively. It does work on those who are “sexually addicted”, but NOT on rapists who rape for power or control. After working for ten years (well, eleven actually) in a sex offender inpatient clinic that utilized chemical castration, we only used it when court ordered to do so and strongly recommended other means to the court. It just doesn’t work.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. There has been a remarkable and sinister change to humanity within the last decade. It is almost as if a switch was thrown and we reversed our sense of right and wrong. I feel as if I am living in an alternate Universe sometimes (you know, that Mandela effect thing, may not be so crazy). I remember the past so differently to how it seems today. Humans are definitely off course with their morality. Compassion has become skewed by the darker forces of hate, racism, homephobia, elitism, cronyism and terrorism. I hate to think what the next decade will bring. 😣

    Liked by 4 people

    • I haven’t heard of the Mandela Effect, but have made a note to read a short synopsis later today. It does seem as if the human species has grown crueler, less willing to take responsibility for its actions, but … I think what we see today is partly a result of the circumstances: climate change, overpopulation, chemicals in food … but I also think there is an extent to which it has always been a part of the human psyche and was only waiting for a catalyst to bring it to the surface. Is it fixable? Probably, with time, but we don’t have much time, so who knows?

      Liked by 1 person

      • When Cern began atom splitting, the Mandela effect was noted. It is named after Nelson Mandela… People had memories of Nelson Mandela dying in prison (rather than being released and being the great man he became). There were other weird memories of other things too… I have my own memories of things happening (but they didn’t) and it does make one question their own mind. One of the biggest Mandela effects is the children’s book. I, and many others remember it as the ‘Berenstein Bears,’ (Note the spelling), but the only reference now is the ‘Berenstain Bears.’
        The Mandela effect is subtle, unprovable (trick of the imagination perhaps), but affocienados, claim that we enter into a parallel Universe each time they split atoms. It is a bit like genetic code splitting… There are subtl bit of information that get lost or mutate. Make of it what you will. 🤔

        Liked by 2 people

        • Just in case anyone is interested in my own rather troubling (for me) memories that actually didn’t happen.. And I’d swear that they did.

          1. I thought I had seen a news report of Kiefer Sutherland dying in a motor vehicle accident in Canada (back in the 1980’s). The accident did happen, but he survived relatively unscathed (minor injuries).

          2. A friend of my sister’s had to give up work because of Cancer. I remember a funeral and some reports of how his family were coping. Yet, (and this just blows my mind…) My sister went to visit him/them for the first time in Eighteen years (since that supposed death). She told me he had made a full recovery, despite his terrible prognosis.

          Do I believe the Mandela effect? Not sure, but I cannot explain my false memories either! Makes me look crazy! 😜

          Liked by 2 people

        • Fascinating … but way beyond my ability to comprehend, for much the same reason I cannot believe in any religion. I have a “seeing is believing” sort of mind, am a realist. If it doesn’t follow logic, or if I cannot see it, then I cannot comprehend it. Still, very interesting!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think the Mandela effect has been taken off into the realm of fantasy by some fanatics. There are YouTube channels devoted to new but highly nepharious examples. If the Mandela effect is real, I think the mass conciousness of society would notice. As it stands, it does not. What false memories do point to, is that people are not good witnesses. We are not observant. We extrapolate the missing bits and that is dangerous when we testify in a law court. Can anyone remember the first thing they did, the morning they woke up on this day one year ago? Unless they write a meticulous diary, probably not. We also mix up dreams with reality. And we have deja vu experiences. We are poor recorders of detail unless we can put it down in a recorded format. Perhaps that is why we are the only species with a written language. Our big brains have very poor recall! 🤣

            Liked by 1 person

            • I can absolutely attest to people not being good witnesses. Look how many people have served time for a crime they did NOT commit, simply because a witness made a mistake. And as for myself, if I spent an hour dining with you, and five minutes after we parted someone asked me what you were wearing, I wouldn’t have a clue! I simply don’t pay attention to things like that. However, I can tell you exactly what the first thing I did when I woke up a year ago today was! I put on my glasses, then went to pee. Same every day! 🤣🤣 I suspect, though this is way out of the realm of my expertise, that the reason we have such poor recall, especially for trivial things like what a person was wearing, or even a persons name, is that we carry too much around in our brains. At any given time, my mind is off on at least 4-5 tangents, and the amount of data we absorb in the course of a day is astounding, if you think about it.

              Liked by 1 person

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