Charting the landmarks on the road to revolution


One law for them, another for us. A tragic and fatal accident leads to an obscenely rich child, Ethan Couch, going to trial.

ethancouch

Prosecutors said the boy was driving seven of his friends in his Ford F-350 on June 15 when the car collided with a group of people on the side of the road on the outskirts of Fort Worth. They were Breanna Mitchell of Lillian, Tex., whose car had broken down, Brian Jennings, and Hollie and Shelby Boyles, who had come to her assistance, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. All four were killed, and two passengers in the truck were critically injured.

The boy pleaded guilty last week to manslaughter and assault while intoxicated. He had been speeding, and had Valium and a high level of alcohol in his blood, according to testimony.

Even with the excuse of youth — the boy was 16 — this is an egregious crime exacerbated by the irresponsible use of drugs. Prosecutors recommended a 20 year jail sentence; his wealthy parents hired a psychologist who argued that it was all the parents’ fault, and that he was spoiled rotten.

“He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way,” Miller said. “He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.”

He used the term “affluenza,” which describes the ennui and depravity of certain very rich people, and which was popularized by psychologist Oliver James in a 2007 book by the same title.

The end result? For killing 4 people and maiming two others, he got probation.

The boy will be sent to a private home near Newport Beach, Calif. that offers intensive therapy. His parents will pay for the therapy, which can cost $450,000 a year or more.

All hail the Ancien Régime!

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    Naturally.

    Years ago my son and all but one of his friends got arrested for doing graffiti. The one not arrested was, amazingly enough, the mayor’s son. Not the first time nor the last.

  2. says

    The parents hired a professional shrink, who said in open court that the murders were the parents fault?

    That sounds to me like the parents themselves admitted to guilt. I’m sure they will be arrested and charged forthwith.

  3. carlie says

    So the response to never being made accountable for his actions is… not being made accountable for his actions. Sounds like a winner of a strategy.

  4. pacal says

    If the parents are “responsible” and have money may I suggest from the families of the 4 dead people and the two seriously injured that they sue civilly, both this kid and his parents. Perhaps a large cash judgment hanging over this kids head will teach some responsibility.

  5. tubi says

    It’s not just money, it’s also fame that bails people out. I once got in trouble in college for setting fire to the carpet in our dorm hallway. It’s not really as bad as it sounds, although it is not something I’m proud of and I would certainly counsel my own children against such acts.

    Fortunately for me, the other person involved was a well-known scholarship athlete. I knew he wasn’t going to have any kind of serious punishment, and I also knew that they couldn’t do anything to me that they hadn’t done to him. So it goes both ways.

    We both got kicked out of campus housing for a semester. I moved in with my Dad and then dropped out the next year anyway. We also had to share the cost of replacing the damaged property. In retrospect, that was probably sufficient, although I could argue for something stronger. I’ve certainly never set fire to a carpet since.

  6. ChasCPeterson says

    the boy was driving seven of his friends in his Ford F-350

    The 1%er parents bought their 16-year-old a truck with a 385 horsepower engine. All three should be in jail.

  7. frog says

    pacal@5: That’s certainly what I would do, if I were a relative of the dead, or one of the injured.

    They may regret their strategy when plaintiffs subpoena the shrink to testify, and/or submit the court transcript into evidence.

  8. says

    During the last couple of years there was a Hummer parked in the student parking lot of the high school I went to in the ’80s.. I can’t imagine giving a teenage kid a 40 grand or whatever it is vehicle to ride around in, especially not oversized ones like those, which are harder to drive than the typical car.

  9. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    He shouldn’t be let near the driver’s seat for the next ten years or so. If he can’t use a car responsibly, then he shouldn’t drive at all.
    If he so much as passes through a red light after that, not even causing an accident, take his driver’s license forever.

    (some folks already suggested this in the lounge)

  10. mirror says

    WTF?

    If you don’t have money “He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way” is used as a rational by judges for why you should get a harsher sentence for being incorrigible. When you don’t have money or you are a minority they judges say, “20 years is not enough!”

  11. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    So…is a condition of his parole that he have no contact with his parents and accept no money from them?

    Is it?

    Bueller?

  12. Jeremy Shaffer says

    So the response to never being made accountable for his actions is… not being made accountable for his actions. Sounds like a winner of a strategy.

    In his senior year of high school my little brother got into a fight with another kid. The other guy had been harassing my brother for a few weeks over what was a rather petty issue. This harassment included some physical violence and a few threats of death threats to my brother and a girl he knew. Eventually my brother had enough and punched the guy. Although there were plenty of people that backed up my brother’s claims of the harassment he was the only one that got into any trouble, even though the school’s policy would have dictated otherwise.

    During the meeting to discuss with out mother what my brother’s punishment would be she asked what would be done with the other kid. They informed our mother that nothing at all would happen to the other guy while my brother would have to go to some punishment school for a month. Their reasoning was that since my brother was raised right, knew what he did was wrong, while the other kid didn’t have a good up-bringing. Thus he just didn’t know better and couldn’t be held accountable for his part in the whole thing.

    Of course, I’m sure the fact that the other kid was also one of the football team’s best players had absolutely zero to do with no punishment being given to him, or the extreme sense of entitlement he displayed that started the whole incident off to begin with.

  13. dianne says

    Wait a minute. If his problem is that he’s never learned that sometimes you don’t get your own way, isn’t letting him out of the consequences of his actions exactly the WRONG thing to do? If he were a poor 16 year old, especially if he were a poor minority 16 year old and someone argued that his problem was that he’d never learned about responsibility due to his disadvantaged upbringing, can you imagine the uproar if he were let off with probation?

    And if “affluenza” is a problem, it seems an easy enough one to solve. Increase taxes on the rich! Distribute the wealth. Poverty and affluenza solved!

  14. dianne says

    @Beatrice: He shouldn’t be let near the driver’s seat for the next ten years or so.

    I would argue that he should never have a driver’s license again in his life and if he drives without a license that should be considered attempted terrorism and mass murder and he be put in prison for life. End of story. He has demonstrated himself unfit to drive. And, yes, that’s harsh to say about a 16 year old, but if 16 year olds are allowed to operate machines that can kill, they should be able to deal with the consequences of that privilege.

  15. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    dianne,

    There’s your (US) problem then. 16-year-olds can obtain licenses for killing machines way too easily.

  16. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    How many hours of driving under professional guidance are necessary for obtaining a driver’s license in US, on average (I know it’s probably different by state)?

  17. EvoMonkey says

    I read this story earlier on MSN News and it said,

    Authorities said the teen and friends were seen on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a store.

    There are probably some juridictions in the US where an inner city poor kid would have gotten a sentence with jail time for the theft alone. Where is the justice in a “spoiled” rich kid spending a year in a rehab resort and 10 years probation after such a killing and maiming spree.

  18. dianne says

    @Beatrice: None. A 16 year old is required to take a driver’s education class, at least in Texas, but in general the only requirements are to show proof of citizenship/residency and pass two (very easy) tests, one written and one driving.

  19. dianne says

    Cars are stupid. Putting non-professionals in charge of potentially deadly multi-ton machines is just dumb. We should mothball the whole system.

  20. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    dianne,

    O.o

    Worse than I thought. (I’m googling this and finding a bunch of online courses. For driving. online courses)

    There’s no sense in letting kids drive monster cars, with no prior education and then punishing them when they kill someone. That’s doing it all wrong. They shouldn’t be let to drive without, you know, learning how to drive.

  21. draconius says

    “So what about drinking and driving? People do it all the time! What were those four doing on the side of the road on the highway like that? Didn’t they know it was dangerous? Their relatives ought to be sued for damaging that poor kid’s Ford F-350 and for trying to ruin his life!”

    I can almost see it.

  22. williamhyde says

    When I lived in Texas circa 1999, a young lad ploughed his truck into a group of people standing by the road, killing six and, I think, injuring eight. He had no alcohol in his system, but had chosen to drive at night on very little sleep. He *said* he fell asleep at the wheel, though we have nothing but his unsupported word for this and no attempt was made to confirm this. Given my experience with some young drivers in the area, it would not surprise me at all if he’d been swerving towards the crowd to “give them a scare” and lost control.

    The sleep excuse would come readily to his mind, as the year before an off duty prison guard had, after a double shift, fallen asleep at the wheel, crossed several lanes and a divider, and killed a cyclist. No charges.

    Our young killer also faced no charges, commenting with disgusting indifference that he had been sure he wouldn’t as he had “Done nothing wrong”.

    He was a Texas A&M student, but I have no information on his family background. I’m quite sure that if the killer had been, for example, a foreigner like myself, he’d still be in jail.

    William Hyde

  23. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @draconius:

    The driver that ran me over while I was riding my bicycle as a 9-year old?

    Now, this is circa 1980, you understand, in the USA. If you have any idea of what child bicycle-safety education was like from 75-85, you’ll know just how outrageous it was that:

    1) the guy said it was my fault because I had been signaling my left turn for less than 3 full seconds before I started drifting left in preparation for the turn (no word on how long I would have signaled before I actually turned, as it was, shall we say, interrupted)

    and
    2) based on this theory of the accident, he was going to sue my dad for damage to the hood done by the impact of my head and the damage to his grill done by the impact with my bicycle.

    My dad? Doctor, not lawyer, but still managed out-argue the yob on this one.

  24. ChasCPeterson says

    a few facts gleaned from PZ’s links and further links from them:
    Kid was driving himself to (private) school, with his parents’ knowledge and permission, at 13 years old.
    Four months before the fatal accident he had received a ticket for being drunk in a parked truck with a pantsless and even drunker 14-year-old girl. “Thanks for ruining my life” he sez to the cop.
    The night of the accident his friends saw him consume at least 2 shots of liquor, 2 shots of Everclear (95% grain alcohol) and some beer.
    At least five lawsuits have been filed against him and his parents.

  25. says

    dianne #24
    Entirely true. Unfortunately, in the U.S. that’s going to be damnably difficult to accomplish. I don’t meant politically, although that’s a hard slog with all the asshole conservatives screaming about their god-given right to drive the biggest SUV they can find. The existing built environment of our urban and exurban areas is extremely auto-centered, to the point that in many areas mass transit is basically not feasible, and human powered transport out of the question. Fixing it will require huge changes to zoning laws, allowing businesses and residential areas to coexist, much stricter density policies, and in many places outright demolishing large amounts of existing structure and replacing it completely. These things in turn require changes in the flow of capital, huge amounts of building and remodeling of structure and infrastructure alike, and bring up some quite ticklish issues regarding the current occupants of some of those structures. Not that it’s not a good idea, but even if there was total buy in at all levels of government across the country, we’re looking at 20-30years bare minimum. We’re paying the price of 6 decades of really bad decisions, and digging ourselves out of that hole won’t be fast.
    That said, soonest begun, soonest done, and it needs to be done ASAP.

  26. lorn says

    What I want to know is how these kids were allowed to joy-ride a fucking F-350.

    Okay, perhaps you are not up on trucks. There is a scale with Ford Rangers and other compact pickup truck on the small end; followed by the F-150 and other full-sized pickup trucks; then the F-250 and large, sometimes service body, trucks often used by tradesmen and cable crews: then F-350 commonly used by utility line crews and often mounted with a boom and bucket.

    The F-250 I drove was just shy of 8000 pounds with tanks full, loaded with gear, and carrying two large workmen. I know because we drove it over the scales at the cement plant. While it may not have been loaded down with gear at the time that F-350 could come in at 12,000 pounds. It is a large, heavy, tall, and very heavy-duty bit of kit for a kid to be tooling around in, stoned out of his gourd, with his friends. it isn’t to many steps down from a semi (short for semi-articulated truck) , other wise known as an eighteen-wheeler.

    How the hell did this kid end up joy riding industrial machinery? Growing up we had hooopties, typically beater mid-size or larger cars. But they, as large as some of them were, seating up to nine close friends, they were seldom heavier than 3000 pounds. Even that late 50s four-door Buick came in at less than 3000. In highschool the main party car I was in was a Ford Pinto which didn’t break 2000 pounds, that was reported to have an unfortunate habit of exploding in flames. Which was as good an excuse as any for getting out of a ticket for speeding or failure to stop. Joke was that Pintos were safer because they were so lightly made that getting T-boned by one was like your car getting hit with a beer can.

    A F-350 full of stoned kids is on the other end of the scale.

  27. dianne says

    I don’t favor the death penalty. I still don’t favor it for this case. However, if there must be a death penalty and Texas has one, this case strikes me as a good one to use it on. Consider:
    The person convicted has shown no evidence of remorse.
    He has demonstrated willingness to break the law (drinking, driving at age 13, etc).
    His own parents have described him as sociopathic and incapable of dealing with the consequences of his actions.
    He is a continued danger to the public. If the death penalty is of any use at all, shouldn’t it be used in cases like this where the convicted person represents a clear danger to the public?

  28. says

    Chas:

    The night of the accident his friends saw him consume at least 2 shots of liquor, 2 shots of Everclear (95% grain alcohol) and some beer.

    ! That would have rendered me unconscious in short order.

    Lorn:

    What I want to know is how these kids were allowed to joy-ride a fucking F-350.

    It was in Texas, ya know. F-350s are pretty common in rural areas. There’s an overwhelming amount of them here in ND.

  29. dianne says

    @30: True, but on the other hand, the massive infrastructural changes required for such a shift would mean that the bridges would finally get their deferred maintenance or be trashed as unneeded and the unemployed would be able to find work in everything from planning to construction. And greater population density would mean more wilderness areas and therefore lower global warming (fewer cars AND more trees.) I see this as a long term win, even if awkward in the short term. OTOH, the money gained by healing people’s affluenza would provide much of the needed capital, so maybe not even so hard after all…

  30. says

    Dianne:

    If the death penalty is of any use at all, shouldn’t it be used in cases like this where the convicted person represents a clear danger to the public?

    No, I don’t think so. Killing more isn’t an answer. What would serve the public interest is if justice had been properly applied, in the form of a 20 year sentence, rather than getting derailed by a classic case of the rich are different.

  31. says

    There’s no sense in letting kids drive monster cars, with no prior education and then punishing them when they kill someone

    In all fairness: drunk drive while on opiates.

    It’s not exactly a problem with the kid not knowing how to drive.

  32. says

    I think the best cure right now for this “affluenza” is to sue this kid and his family and totally remove every iota of this families wealth and give it to the victims. And to those that might say the family didn’t commit this act, aren’t they the ones responsible for the “affluenza”?

    I’m not suggesting that this family pay a lot of money in damages, I’m saying they pay ALL their money.

  33. draconius says

    @Crip Dyke

    It’s a good thing your dad came through because otherwise I was going to smash my face into the monitor. :-/

    “Screw your two broken ribs, leg, arm, cracked skull, crushed pelvis, damaged kidney, internal bleeding, and scarped knee… look what you did to my truck’s $100 paint jawb!!111RAAAGE11AHHH1!!”

    —–

    Unrelated to that, I found this in the first linked article in the OP (towards the bottom of the article):

    The trial’s outcome is in God’s hands…

    This was two days before the the sentencing… thanks Gawd!! *smashes face into monitor*

  34. robro says

    It does seem that if his parents got him off by having an expert witness convince the jury that it was their responsibility, then they should be prosecuted. At the very least the young man should be required to do something for many years, if not jail then perhaps clean up accidents caused by drunks.

    And what is it about things on the side of the road that attracts drunk drivers? I had a cousin killed under similar circumstances. My wife has a horror story along these lines: group of children gathering bottle caps by the side of the road.

  35. infraredeyes says

    His parents probably bought him the F-350 so that he would be safe. No, seriously, that’s what a certain type of rich parent does. They know junior isn’t a very good driver, so they get him a mega-vehicle in which he is unlikely to be hurt in the event of wreck. The rest of the world can take its chances.

    My daughter knew such a kid in high school. He had a large SUV and succeeded in flipping it over on the highway. So, his parents bought him another one. Daughter and he used to go out for lunch occasionally, and she refused to let him drive. Instead, she would take him in the old beater she had inherited from us with 150,000 miles on it. She insisted this was safer, and it was, even with the muffler falling off occasionally.

  36. samihawkins says

    #30: How the hell did this kid end up joy riding industrial machinery?

    Are you from Texas? This state has an unhealthy obsession with pickup trucks. It’s not exaggerating to say they outnumber every other type of vehicle on the road. It’s a right of passage for most teenage boys in this state to prove their manhood by buying the biggest pickup truck they can possibly afford. Odds are this truck never carried anything in the bed except discarded beercans and drunk teenagers.

    I know two guys, older but otherwise exactly like this kid, who also have rich parents, drive stupid big pickups, and have also never faced any serious punishment after being arrested.

  37. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Dianne: “And if “affluenza” is a problem, it seems an easy enough one to solve. Increase taxes on the rich! Distribute the wealth. Poverty and affluenza solved!”

    But we can’t do that! Because,… uh,… because…freedom. Yeah! That’s it! Freedom ‘n liberty ‘n shit kind ‘o thing. So the rich are just going to have to live with all that money and ruin their lives…at least until they get strung up by their small intestines.

  38. ekwhite says

    Lorn@31:

    Ethan Crouch’s father apparently owns a major costruction company. The F-350 belonged to the construction company.

  39. billforsternz says

    I don’t pretend to have any clue what “justice” would look like in resolving this case. But I am pretty sure sending a child to prison for 20 years is not the right answer, and it boggles my mind that someone above thinks putting him to death is a good idea. Nothing good has come from this very American obsession with extraordinarily harsh sentences.

  40. says

    bilforsternz:

    But I am pretty sure sending a child to prison for 20 years is not the right answer

    20 years extraordinarily harsh for the deaths of four people? I don’t think so. Besides, a 20 year sentence is rarely actually 20 years. Perhaps if juries weren’t such suckers for youth, more people would be alive. Ever think of that?

  41. says

    Also, the ‘fix’ of sending him to Newport Beach? I spent years hanging out and partying in Newport and Balboa. Have an address there, you can get away with murder. It’s one of wealthiest enclaves in the country. Junior isn’t going to learn jack shit there.

  42. Alex says

    Something tells me that it cannot make sense to lock someone up for a longer time than they are old. What is the point?

  43. says

    Alex:

    Something tells me that it cannot make sense to lock someone up for a longer time than they are old. What is the point?

    Four people died. Assuming that the person would actually serve 20 years, that’s five years for each person they killed. Not much for a death, is it? It’s beside the point anyway, as the ‘child’ wouldn’t have actually served 20 years, not even close, if he had actually been sentenced. More likely closer to 5 to 7 years, then released.

    I find it interesting that people are more concerned with the fate of this spoiled, rich, privileged person who cares for no life other than his own, and completely dismiss those who died and were critically injured.

  44. magistramarla says

    The redneck snots around the part of Texas where I live like to “jack ‘em up”, which means that they buy the biggest pick-up that they can afford and then have them so ridiculously high on lifts that they literally have to carry a stepladder to use for climbing in. This is especially popular at the high school in the district which is known as the Aggie prep school. The sad but hilarious thing is to see the kid who couldn’t afford anything bigger than a Toyota Tacoma, but has it jacked up anyway.
    When I would sub at that school, I would watch those kids go tearing out of the parking lot and think that they were several roll-over accidents just waiting to happen.

  45. Francisco Bacopa says

    CD at #28:

    The driver that ran me over while I was riding my bicycle as a 9-year old?

    Is this the story behind the “crip” in your handle?

    But back to the OP: I live Texas and do a lot of driving on the job. Children and young men past the age of majority love their big pickups. One of my favorite things is to see a younger male with a fancy truck (or “troque”, there are chicano guys like this though it’s mostly an anglo thing) like this who has skidded his precious vehicle into a ditch.

    BTW, you better believe there’s a strong correlation between driving one of these vehicles and being an acquaintance rapist.

  46. draconius says

    @41, samihawks

    You as well, huh? Watching high schoolers, whom managed to be more privileged than myself*, drive their large-arsed trucks at high speeds out of the school parking lot, RIGHT AFTER SCHOOL ENDED**, was a common thing for me. Luckily for me, I always came early in the morning so I could park far away from the actual parking lot.

    *Cis, white, male, attended a private school; all I think I’m lacking is “Christian” and “rich by American standards,” while the high schoolers in question were not.

    **So picture a fairly small parking lot, and picture fellow high schoolers along with our teachers crossing the street to get to their own vehicles… all while the Dukes of Hazard come sailing through.

  47. draconius says

    Quick-add: Oh! Also, able-bodied… cannot forget that. Plus a crap load of others I’m probably forgetting.

  48. funknjunk says

    … Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset;
    We never had the love that ev’ry child oughta get.
    We ain’t no delinquents,
    We’re misunderstood.
    Deep down inside us there is good!

    Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
    This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
    It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
    He’s psychologic’ly disturbed! :—)

  49. ChasCPeterson says

    The F-350 belonged to the construction company.

    If that’s the case (source?), then the article linked and quoted erred in referring to it as “his”.

  50. fulcrumx says

    Marketing works. The billions spent by pushers to sell that crap to that kid and others and to shield themselves and their politicians made them and their judges and prosecutors and bail-bondsmen, and MADD, and cops and the prison industry completely invisible to everybody including PZ This case just proves every drunk should have the same defense and the finest of real effective therapy and it should be paid for by everybody that sells and buys that shit. But such word will never ever cross PZ’s fucking mind.

  51. Steven Brown: Man of Mediocrity says

    I hope the therapy place they send him to is at least a place where they make him work at becoming a little more grounded.

    Also, why is there so much focus upthread on the fact that he’s young and has been driving since he was 12? Yes, driving that young is probably illegal but odds are it was the fact he was drunk as a skunk and driving with a bunch of drunk friends that caused the accident. Waiting till he was 18 to let him drive probably wouldn’t change either of those too factors.

  52. Jacob Schmidt says

    The billions spent by pushers to sell that crap to that kid and others and to shield themselves and their politicians made them and their judges and prosecutors and bail-bondsmen, and MADD, and cops and the prison industry completely invisible to everybody including PZ

    Uh… what?

  53. billforsternz says

    Caine:

    20 years extraordinarily harsh for the deaths of four people? I don’t think so.

    It’s strange to see this “eye for an eye” logic on Pharyngula. Four people lost their lives, it’s a tragedy of vast proportions, and I specifically said I had no clue what justice would look like. But whatever you do you can’t bring those people back. If the criminal was an adult, and perhaps more especially if he had chosen to take four lives in a malicious calculated act, I wouldn’t make the same comment. Obviously.

    Caine:

    I find it interesting that people are more concerned with the fate of this spoiled, rich, privileged person who cares for no life other than his own, and completely dismiss those who died and were critically injured.

    I don’t know if you are addressing me, but if so this is absolutely not my position. I don’t dismiss the victims at all, I just don’t think an eye for an eye solves anything. Look at the Norwegian handling of their recent national tragedy. I am convinced their criminal justice system is much closer to best practice.

    I also find it a little unsettling that this person apparently deserves extra vitriol and hatred because he is spoiled, rich and privileged. Everybody just piles on. What’s going on here ? Do we separate criminals into two groups now; “our people” (human beings worthy of compassion) and “others” (burn them!) ?

  54. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    ME: The driver that ran me over while I was riding my bicycle as a 9-year old?

    Francisco Bacopa: Is this the story behind the “crip” in your handle?

    No. I have a metabolic disease, and the metabolic disease affects an organ in your body which regulates, blah, blah, blah – I have bad bones. They’ve been bad since I was a kid, but they got substantially worse over time so I was a tree climber and bike rider as a kid, but not now.

    I used the idiomatic “ran me over” but in actual fact (and I don’t remember this **at all** I have only the statement of the driver in question) when the car rammed into the back of my bike, it popped the front of the bike up and threw me onto the hood of the car. My head apparently hit first and hard, leaving a nice round dent before the driver stopped suddenly, throwing me into a ditch.

    It was serious enough I have memory loss around the incident and was unconscious for something less than an hour, but more than 20 minutes (I woke up after the emergency med folks had completed initial field examination and the safety precautions for loading me onto the stretcher, but I was still on the body board, not the stretcher. I think lifting me woke me up, but I’m a bit hazy on that). More worrying, I was groggy – I didn’t fully wake up, nor did I stay awake. My limbs, magically, were incredibly intact – barely abraded after hitting the smooth car hood and the plants in the dirt ditch rather than the asphalt. My torso was injured, but not too badly.

    Except for the clearly deranged attachment I have to making the world a better place, i really think that I have no lasting effects from the accident at all.

    At the time, however, I was quite injured and there were real concerns about brain damage for several days. It was while I was in the ambulance, incoherent with any possible damage to the brain undiagnosed, however, that Jerkface the Driver told my dad he was going to sue my family for the damage to his car.

    I, however, am not willing to let the guy off lightly just because in my case striking his car head-first did negligible to no lasting damage. That kind of story makes my blood boil.

  55. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Caine: 20 years extraordinarily harsh for the deaths of four people? I don’t think so.

    BillForsterTheKiwi: It’s strange to see this “eye for an eye” logic on Pharyngula.

    Ummm, I’m sorry if this comes across the wrong way, but you do know what “an eye for an eye” means, right? Has anyone here proposed killing the guy, resuscitating him, killing the guy, resuscitating him, killing the guy, resuscitating him, then just killing him?

    eye = eye
    “I don’t think 20 years loss of freedom is harsh” != justice necessitates multiple killings

    ====
    That said, you won’t see me arguing for a 20 year incarceration. A major reason we treat juvenile law breakers differently is not merely that juvenile law breakers don’t yet have fully developed brains, it’s that b/c they don’t have fully developed brains, we don’t yet know if they are going to quickly learn to do things differently and abhor their past behavior.

    But we don’t have, in the USA, a good system of creating justice. If the judge didn’t want to impose a 20 year incarceration, she could still have imposed a 20 year threat of incarceration (rather than 10) and put other conditions on parole such that it felt like accountability to the families of those involved.

    Constructive justice has a long way to go in the USA, but that’s not the same as saying Caine is advocating an eye-for-an-eye b/c she doesn’t think 20years for 4 lives is harsh.

    Again, seriously, apprehension of the definition of an eye for an eye seems to be missing entirely from your comment.

  56. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    And Ms Daisy Cutter comes along to ninja the thread in a way that eviscerates my, “what are you talking about eye-for-an-eye?” comment while making me laugh out loud.

    Sigh. I hear ya on the appeal of guillotines. Imma finna hafta look up tumbrels.

  57. says

    bill@59

    It’s strange to see this “eye for an eye” logic on Pharyngula. Four people lost their lives, it’s a tragedy of vast proportions, and I specifically said I had no clue what justice would look like. But whatever you do you can’t bring those people back. If the criminal was an adult, and perhaps more especially if he had chosen to take four lives in a malicious calculated act, I wouldn’t make the same comment. Obviously.

    1) you appear to not know what “eye for an eye” means. Here’s a hint, it would involve killing four and maiming two of this kids family.

    2)if this kid was black, latino, and/or poor? He would have gotten 20 years or the death penalty.

  58. mothra says

    Justice is for the living not the dead. If the parents have ‘taken the blame/ responsibility, they should be doing prison time (maybe 16 years- their son’s age). The teen should still be incarcerated (least case) until he is 21 and then re-evaluated.

  59. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    BTW:

    If the parents used their wealth to hurt others and, ultimately, it caused 4 deaths and 2 horrific injuries, I am all for disarming them.

    ==================

    On Tumbrels. It seems Christopher Hitchens had something to say:

    A tumbrel remark is an unguarded comment by an uncontrollably rich person, of such crass insensitivity that it makes the workers and peasants think of lampposts and guillotines. I can give you a few for flavor. The late queen mother, being driven in a Rolls-Royce through a stricken district of Manchester, England, said as she winced at the view, “I see no point at all in being poor.” The Duke of St. Albans once told an interviewer that an ancestor of his had lost about 50 million pounds in a foolish speculation in South African goldfields, adding after a pause, “That was a lot of money in those days.” The Duke of Devonshire, having been criticized in the London Times, announced in an annoyed and plaintive tone that he would no longer have the newspaper “in any of my houses.”

    I haven’t looked up the context, but I’m guessing I know 47% of the context already.

  60. says

    @59 still:

    I also find it a little unsettling that this person apparently deserves extra vitriol and hatred because he is spoiled, rich and privileged. Everybody just piles on. What’s going on here ? Do we separate criminals into two groups now; “our people” (human beings worthy of compassion) and “others” (burn them!) ?

    There are already two kinds of criminals. The rich and priviledged who can literally get away with murder, and everyone else.

  61. says

    I also find it a little unsettling that this person apparently deserves extra vitriol and hatred because he is spoiled, rich and privileged.

    Any non-white, non-rich, and non-privileged person with a history of driving while impaired, would be doing serious prison time for killing four people. The spoiled, rich, privileged, and entitlement-swollen person in this case is being sent to a playground for pampered rich people. Do ya suppose that happens much with people who are not spoiled, rich, and privileged?

  62. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Me, #66:

    I’m guessing I know 47% of the context already.

    Um, okay, I totally got this one dead wrong. Like “Hitch was dead when the 47% comment happened” wrong. Nope it was something else entirely.

    He wrote it just after McCain joked around about not knowing how many homes he owned.

    Clearly, as I get told several times a week, I “don’t know anything.”

  63. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    And with Caine:

    I agree with Caine and further stress that he gets away with it not with the court saying it grudgingly gives a favorable sentence to a spoiled, rich, privileged, entitlement-soaked person, but ***because*** he’s a spoiled, rich, privileged, entitlement-soaked person.

    If that’s not a reason to get one’s dander up, I don’t know what is.

    My contempt, though, is more for the parents and the society that allows this reasoning in a court of law without laughing it away.

    “Look, I couldn’t care less about any horrors I inflict on others b/c what the hell? I always get away with everything and so clearly the suffering I inflict on others has not practical effects for me which I should keep in mind. Doesn’t that make me deserving of leniency? Isn’t someone who cares nothing for the deaths of 4 a better member of society than someone who wants the death of one?

    “So let me off with a warning: I promise that if I never before took seriously the possibility of being accountable for the harm I inflict on others, your warning will still be an experience to remember.”

  64. anuran says

    If the amount stolen bumped it into felony territory he should have been charged with Felony Murder.

  65. says

    In 2007 my son and another person were seriously injured in a head on car accident. The driver of the car in which he was a passenger tried overtaking a car on a blind hill with a narrow bridge. After a year my son eventually got back on his feet but still suffers pain from his injuries. The driver in question was ruled eligible for a sentence counseling hearing in lieu of jail. A counselor facilitated this hearing with the young male driver his family and the victims and their families and the Police who had attended the accident. It was a confronting and emotional proceedings. The driver was genuinely remorseful at one point nearly committing suicide. The eventual decision saw him put on probation with his license suspended for 3 years. He had to undergo counseling, a police-run driver training course and assist in a brain injury unit. 18 months into this we were advised that he had breached the sentencing agreement and was imprisoned. Not a perfect solution and a sad affair all around but at least we had a say in the matter.

    On the subject of the F350 the 16 year old was driving. I have been driving for 45 years. In that time I have driven a mini, ordinary family cars, high performance V8s large 4WDs towing heavy trailers and light trucks. My license is even endorsed to drive small passenger buses for work purposes. The license extends to driving an F250 which I have actually driven. In its large V8 form it requires a light touch on the throtttle, judicious use of the gears, (it was a manual shift) and a keen awareness of surrounding traffic and your position on the road. My license never extended to driving an F350, a vehicle totally unsuitable for even a sober 16 year old.

    In Australia you have to sit a test to get your learners permit. The minimum age for a permit is 16 and 9 months and a license is 17 years. You are issued with a logbook to record a minimum 120 hours of driving and this must include at night and in wet weather. You then have to pas a further exam and practical driving test. At the end of this you get a red provisional license for a year. This limits you to a maximum highway speed of 90km/hr. You have a limited number of driver points and can lose your license for a minor infringement. You also have a zero blood alcohol limit and are barred from driving high performance cars. After a year you get a green 2 year license allowing you to drive up to the highway speed limit but you still have the alcohol restriction. There are now proposals to limit the number of passengers provisional drivers can carry after dark unless they are accompanied by an adult.

    With all of this in place there is still a high death toll among young, inexperienced drivers.

  66. Alex says

    @Caine,

    I don’t think your evaluation of my view is fair. First of all, if it turns out to be 7 years or a bit more, and if ideally something is done with the guy in the meantime that doesn’t turn him into even more of a sociopathic criminal when he’s let out, that sounds exactly like what should be done to me. Furthermore, I don’t deny at all that
    probation is a horribly callous message to those who have lost their loved ones.
    But . stand by my statement, and just dont think that justice is served by your algebra of death adding up lives lost to an arbitrarily long sentence – for a 16yo. If you need to convict for 20 in order to effectively get 7, fine, I’m all for it.

  67. says

    Jacob Schmidt 58
    I beleive the first part #56 is meant to indicate that auto manufacturers have spent considerable sums of money pushing the private ownership of automobiles through direct advertising and lobbying to make speed limits higher, reduce public transit infrastructure, and build more and larger roads has contributed heavily to our car-centric culture, which in turn led to the situation in the OP. This is substantially correct, although the Interstate Highway system and the form of suburban subdivison pioneered by William Levitt & Sons contributed at least as much, along with several smaller factors. I’m not certain where MADD and bail bondsmen come in, though.

    Crip Dyke
    Oh yeah, I’ve actually lost count of the number of douchebags who’ve run me over when I was on my bike, although I’ve been fortunate enough not to suffer any lasting harm from it (that I know of; I suspect a number of chronic aches may be related but I can’t prove it).

  68. billforsternz says

    Caine:

    Any non-white, non-rich, and non-privileged person with a history of driving while impaired, would be doing serious prison time for killing four people. The spoiled, rich, privileged, and entitlement-swollen person in this case is being sent to a playground for pampered rich people. Do ya suppose that happens much with people who are not spoiled, rich, and privileged?

    I don’t disagree with any of this. The problem is that the poor are treated inhumanely and the rich decently. Your solution is to treat the rich inhumanely. My solution is to treat the poor decently.

  69. Francisco Bacopa says

    Let’s get back to the main point here. If these were young black kids or even poor white kids they would have been tried as adults and sent to prison.

    We have really gotten back to the days before the French Revolution when the nobles could run over the peasants with their carriages. The Occupy movement tried to peacefully show what was happening, but the government thugs were sent out in force to suppress a REAL dissident movement. The Tea Party threatens violence, but it has corporate and media support and is treated lightly by law enforcement because it supports the corporate agenda. The populist Occupy movement is brutally crushed even though it is non-violent.

    I participated in D12 Houston. I saw the red tents and the trampling horses. But that was noting compared to the DHS agents with rifles up on the levee that protects the VW/Audi loading dock on the Ship Channel.

    And this is nothing compared to the leaked FBI documents that showed they had a “kill list” that included people I know.

  70. says

    Rich people aren’t being treated decently.

    Rich people are being treated as if the laws of the nation they live in do not exist. They are literally a class of people unnafected by the law.

  71. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Francisco Bacopa:

    Do you have any media reports or information I can otherwise source and whose credibility I can assess for the statement:

    leaked FBI documents that showed they had a “kill list”

    It’s not that I disbelieve you, but some of what i do involves legal writing (including merely writing for a legal audience) where “someone I know said it” is frowned on in papers where conclusions are being drawn (it’s okay for purely reporting-the-facts papers, but these have to be separate from arguments based on these…and typically need to be written by different authors than the papers arguing from the facts).

    I’d be very interested. Thanks for any help you can give. Understood if you can’t.

  72. unclefrogy says

    cool that is just we need in southern california another irresponsible drunk driver
    yea we win!!
    uncle frogy

  73. Andrew says

    I think the best cure right now for this “affluenza” is to sue this kid and his family and totally remove every iota of this families wealth and give it to the victims. And to those that might say the family didn’t commit this act, aren’t they the ones responsible for the “affluenza”?

    I’m not suggesting that this family pay a lot of money in damages, I’m saying they pay ALL their money.

    He is facing tens of million of dollars in wrongful death lawsuits. If he’s found liable though, he (or rather his parents) will essentially be paying blood money, which is problematic in it’s own way.

    Much better for him to be in prison.

  74. unclefrogy says

    sending him to prison will do little to change things it may be a punish him but he will most likely come out worse then he went in. most do. it is how we do things lately put them in prison. We put more people in prison then any one is it doing any good? are the recidivism rates going down??

    uncle frogy

  75. says

    billforsternz:

    Your solution is to treat the rich inhumanely.

    How is Caine’s suggestion:

    What would serve the public interest is if justice had been properly applied, in the form of a 20 year sentence, rather than getting derailed by a classic case of the rich are different.

    an example of treating the rich inhumanely?
    That’s prison time. Perhaps one could argue that it’s too much or too little time in prison. But inhumane?

  76. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Thank you, unclefrogy. This is a major portion of why I’m not generally in favor of prison time in the US. I’m much more amenable to creative sentencing that dodges prison time than I was before i studied the prison system. I may have initially been interested only because of in-prison rape and because of the tragedies and horrors of prison gender creation and enforcement (it’s often considered useful to speak of multiple genders in US male prisons, the system that I like best with my limited knowledge describes 6). But the tragedies and horrors go well beyond those. While I certainly think keeping someone dangerous under lock-and-key ought to be a tool in society’s shed, I frankly don’t think we really have that tool available right now b/c prison **isn’t** a simple keeping of someone under lock-and-key.

    Nonetheless, without the sentence available in front of me, it’s hard to know how just I might consider it apart from the families’ reactions. But I don’t need to read it. The families have made it clear that this was over their vociferous objections. I don’t think families should rule the sentences – if they did, we’d have cruel and unusual punishment back in a heartbeat – but there are reasonable steps that could be taken to make the sentence more just.

    I wasn’t joking that if the kid wants to argue leniency because mommy, daddy, and money did it, the court should have the power to prevent contact with mommy & daddy and prevent taking advantage of the family’s money. Permitting the family to choose a private rehabilitation provider is not the way to respond when the allegation is that your family buying you out of trouble causes you to kill.

  77. says

    As a 16 year old he is incapable of carrying culpability for his actions. It is completely ridiculous to give a child the keys to such a powerful machine. Both from the parents point of view (my GAWD, 13!) and from the government’s point of view (my GAWD,16!), in allowing a child out on the roads.

    Yeah, kids can act like little adults¹, but it is just an act. They simply do not have adult wiring. Kids cannot get around? Fix the problems: crap public transport, crap urban design. Don’t fob it off by weaponising children. ( I can only understand the issuance of such licenses in terms of a cynical support of the motor industry.)

    If the driver had been 13? 10? When do we stop punishing children? If the parents take responsibility for the problem (in large part they are), then they must be made to own that. They are largely culpable² of the resulting homicide.

    Yes, those deaths were horrific. But we must find real solutions to these real problems or we do their memories great dishonour. Punishment and revenge only feed the cycle and do nothing to address the causes. We will go through the same charade over and over again until this happens.


    ¹ The same thinking as by people who anthropomorphise their pets.
    ² Imagine if they had given a five year old a box of matches, shown how to use them and encouraged them to play around with fire? And the house got burned down, killing granny as a consequence? Kids fault, or the adults? It is unconscionable to give children, of any age, use of such things that they are not fully capable of taking responsibility for. They are, neurologically³, incapable of thinking in terms of future consequences.
    ³ A process that starts around 17 and is not completed until around 21 (some neurologists place this around 25)

  78. vaiyt says

    The problem is that the poor are treated inhumanely and the rich decently. Your solution is to treat the rich inhumanely.

    Wrong on both accounts. Being above the law is not the same as being treated decently, and wanting them to be subject to the same damn laws as everyone else is not treating them inhumanely.

  79. tomtethys says

    This is the same lenient way the American Aristocracy were treated in the Golden Age. It also speaks of continued corruption of the judicial system.

  80. billforsternz says

    Tony @84

    How is Caine’s suggestion:

    What would serve the public interest is if justice had been properly applied, in the form of a 20 year sentence, rather than getting derailed by a classic case of the rich are different.

    an example of treating the rich inhumanely?
    That’s prison time. Perhaps one could argue that it’s too much or too little time in prison. But inhumane?

    Twenty years in prison is extraordinarily inhumane treatment from my perspective. I could perhaps countenance such a thing for an adult perpertrator of an incredibly evil crime, but to blithely suggest this is somehow appropriate for a minor who did not set out to kill absolutely blows my mind. I can only conclude that USAians have become desensitised to the enormity of this kind of punishment through relentless over-use. Sheesh the other day I was reading in Slate of a 20 year sentence for a skilled craftsman whose crime was to create a hidden compartment in a car !

    I am pretty sure there will come a time when we will look back at locking people in steel cages the way we now look back on slavery. Please consider the possibility that your current perspective is profoundly illiberal.

  81. says

    @ billforsternz

    Apropos your above comment, the following is taken from the article Crime, Culpability and the Adolescent Brain. Emphasis added by myself:

    “”
    Adolescence: Akin to Mental Retardation?

    The human brain took center stage in 2002 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the death penalty for mentally retarded persons. In that case (Atkins v. Virginia), six of the nine justices agreed that executing a convict with limited intellectual capacity, Daryl Atkins, would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Instructing the state of Virginia to forgo the death penalty in such cases, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote: “Because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses, [mentally retarded persons] do not act with the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct.”

    When the case of Christopher Simmons, who committed murder at age 17, comes before the same justices in October, says law professor Steven Drizin of Northwestern University in Chicago, defense attorneys hope to equate juvenile culpability to that of mentally retarded persons. “Juveniles function very much like the mentally retarded. The biggest similarity is their cognitive deficit. [Teens] may be highly functioning, but that doesn’t make them capable of making good decisions,” he says. Brain and behavior research supports that contention, argues Drizin, who represents the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern on the amicus curiae brief for Simmons. The “standard of decency” today is that teens do not deserve the same extreme punishment as adults.

    “”

  82. sugarfrosted says

    I was going to comment here, but I think this hits too close to home for me. I don’t know why I’m posting this, but whatever.

  83. mwitthoft says

    In related news, Jean Boyd, the judge in the case, has just purchased a waterfront mansion in the Virgin Islands in a cash transaction.

    /snark?

  84. carlie says

    How many hours of driving under professional guidance are necessary for obtaining a driver’s license in US, on average (I know it’s probably different by state)?

    In Illinois, kids now have to log 50 hours of driving with a qualified driver (who has to be over the age of 25) before being allowed to take the driver’s test. Some kids fake the log book, but it has to be signed and attested to as correct by a legal guardian. I don’t know if ta regulation applies to people over 21 who are applying for a license for the first time.

    I don’t know if jail time is necessary; the problem is that we don’t have a good juvenile detention system that could do what he needs. But, he definitely should have at least a 20 year suspension of driver’s license in any state.

  85. carlie says

    How many hours of driving under professional guidance are necessary for obtaining a driver’s license in US, on average (I know it’s probably different by state)?

    In Illinois, kids now have to log 50 hours of driving with a qualified driver (who has to be over the age of 25) before being allowed to take the driver’s test. Some kids fake the log book, but it has to be signed and attested to as correct by a legal guardian. I don’t know if the regulation applies to people over 21 who are applying for a license for the first time.

    I don’t know if jail time is necessary; the problem is that we don’t have a good juvenile detention system that could do what he needs. But, he definitely should have at least a 20 year suspension of driver’s license in any state.

  86. Anri says

    billforsternz @ 59:

    It’s strange to see this “eye for an eye” logic on Pharyngula. Four people lost their lives, it’s a tragedy of vast proportions, and I specifically said I had no clue what justice would look like. But whatever you do you can’t bring those people back. If the criminal was an adult, and perhaps more especially if he had chosen to take four lives in a malicious calculated act, I wouldn’t make the same comment. Obviously.

    (my emphasis)

    Drunk driving is a malicious, calculated act.
    It’s the equivalent of shooting into a crowd: you don’t know who you’re going to hurt, or how many, or how badly, but if you keep at it long enough, you will certainly hurt someone.

    This occurrence was a decision as much as it was a tragedy.

  87. Scr... Archivist says

    CripDyke @80,

    Do you have any media reports or information I can otherwise source and whose credibility I can assess for the statement:

    I can’t answer for Francisco, but I was curious about this as well and found a couple of news articles about it. They reported in July of 2013 that a lawyer from Houston had requested some documents from the FBI the previous December. The redacted documents mention that the FBI in Texas had heard in October 2011 that someone “planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the [Occupy] protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.”

    KHOU-TV:
    http://www.khou.com/news/local/Attorney-says-Occupy-Houston-leaders-were-targets-of-plotted-sniper-attack-217845701.html

    Houston Chronicle:
    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Attorney-FBI-was-aware-of-plan-for-snipers-on-4698431.php

    blog post by Paul B. Kennedy, the attorney who FOIA’ed the information, including a link to a Scribd page with the documents in question:
    http://kennedy-law.blogspot.com/2013/07/taking-aim-at-occupy-movement.html

    It wouldn’t surprise me that some nutjob in Texas would want to murder leftist activists. But I don’t see any specific targets identified. It even looks like the person in question might not have gotten to infiltrating the group by the time of these reports.

    If Francisco has more, especially if it says the FBI itself had lists of people they wanted to assassinate (which is different from them learning that someone else had plans to make a list), I’d be interested in seeing the evidence.

  88. mekathleen says

    Madame Defarge has been cackling in my head all morning over this.

    ” “You dogs!” said the Marquis, but smoothly, and with an unchanged front, except as to the spots on his nose: “I would ride over any of you very willingly, and exterminate you from the earth. If I knew which rascal threw at the carriage, and if that brigand were sufficiently near it, he should be crushed under the wheels.”

    So cowed was their condition, and so long and hard their experience of what such a man could do to them, within the law and beyond it, that not a voice, or a hand, or even an eye was raised. Among the men, not one. But the woman who stood knitting looked up steadily, and looked the Marquis in the face. It was not for his dignity to notice it; his contemptuous eyes passed over her, and over all the other rats; and he leaned back in his seat again, and gave the word “Go on!” “

  89. says

    On the “but our prison system is complete fuckballs” thing:

    First off, yes. But second off, the reason that our “justice” system is so corrupt. The reason that it is such an abuse mill used more to punish those poor, brown, or otherwise non-privileged for the crimes of being poor. brown, etc… is because there is a separate system of justice for rich and poor, not in spite of it.

    Rich, white fuckers feel safe supporting systems of abuse masquerading as prisons and arcane enforcement that takes away entire lives for extremely minor crimes against property, because they know that their white artifact children and themselves will never be a part of that system no matter how epically or how transparently they fuck up.

    In fact, they know that the level of abuse and oppression that the system perpetuates actually protects them, because people think of a “proper” person (i.e. white and at least middle class) being subjected to the abuses of “real criminals” (i.e. paranoid ideas of what black people are like) and are automatically uncomfortable with subjecting them to it and thus let them off the hook or sentence them to special prisons where they only have to engage with other rich people having a little break.

    So there is no pressure to fix any of the damage to the system or practice any form of reform or mercy, because the white wealthy power base are not at all negatively impacted by the system. They know that even in the worst case scenario, they won’t have to serve time in prison and all of the system will work its ass off to prevent them even being inconvenienced in the slightest. And they get the benefits of reenslavement of african-american communities, poor people to afraid to attempt revolution or banditry, and so on.

    The solution, at least on the short term, because in the long term, the solution is clearly ripping the whole system apart and wholesale adopting the systems of a Scandanavian country, is to eliminate this protection and actually make “proper” people suffer through the same indignity of everyone else.

    More rich white ponzi scheme assholes sharing showers with poor black transkids picked up on a minor drug charge will instantly incentivize actually reforming prisons and how we treat inmates. Cause right now, the people who actually control our systems have no incentive to fix things and all the incentives to keep it exactly this broken if not more so.

  90. Gregory Greenwood says

    One law for them, another for us.

    Not quite right there – once you get into the realms of the truly rich and powerful, rather than the merely moderately wealthy, then it quickly becomes clear that it is one law for us, no law for them. The concept that all citizens are equal before the law has always been a bad joke, principly employed to maintain the illusion that the average person has a reasonable recourse to law, when in truth the ‘one percenter’ elite of our society are, to all intents and purposes, above the law, and only go down when that is the only way to protect some individual or group who are wealthier and more powerful than they are.

    ***Trigger warning for particularly bitter and nasty snark about rape apologia***

    Odd how nobody is talking about how those four irresponsible dead people have just ruined the life of this ‘promising’ young man, and what were they doing just hanging about on the road there anyway? Trying to render assistance to a broken down vehicle – yeah, that is what the two survivors say they were doing. When you think about it, they were practically asking to be run over, what with their oh-so squishable bodies on display like that and all…

  91. stevem says

    re @100:
    trigger warning failed and triggered me anyway:
    Wasn’t there also a warning to NEVER stop to give aid to someone apparently broken down on the side of the road? That as soon as you did, they would knock you down, take your wallet, jump in your car and drive away, leaving you stranded? This boy was just fighting back against the possibility that these 4 were just bait to lure the next guy to his doom. This guy is a HERO, for taking a preemptive stand against the hoodlums.
    </trigger>

  92. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    billforsternz, yes, by all means, won’t someone think of the poor privileged assholes running roughshod over us. For what it’s worth, Bill, I do feel sorry for this privileged, little shit. But please tell me how he benefits from once again avoiding consequences for his actions. Do you think he’ll come out of this a better person? Or maybe this will reinforce in his pickled mind that he is indeed so special that he can get away with murder–four of them, along with a couple of maimings. What is to keep him from coming back from his little California vacation and drinking behind the wheel of his tank until he kills more people, to be stopped only when he kills himself. Or maybe he’ll become President, just like some other privileged brat from Texas.

    The truth is that this kid is already in a prison–a prison imposed on him from the day he was born. Oh, it’s a pretty goddamned luxurious prison, I’ll grant, but it’s a prison that keeps him from perceiving the humanity of his victims. It’s what keeps him a drunk little shit rather than becoming human himself. And how is he going to make anything worthwhile of himself if he keeps getting rescued from his own stupidity?

    Actions have consequences–that’s the first lesson you have to learn to escape the prison of privilege.

  93. says

    I don’t disagree with any of this. The problem is that the poor are treated inhumanely and the rich decently. Your solution is to treat the rich inhumanely. My solution is to treat the poor decently.

    Funny I have never seen your dumb ass giving any support of sympathy to any poor or minority shit on.

    but someone isn’t groveling before a rich fucker and you come in like the mongrol hordes are at the gate

    Fuck you.

  94. billforsternz says

    Indigo Jump @103

    Funny I have never seen your dumb ass giving any support of sympathy to any poor or minority shit on.

    but someone isn’t groveling before a rich fucker and you come in like the mongrol hordes are at the gate

    Fuck you.

    Presumably you missed my comment to Walton’s guest post on his (heroic in my view) efforts to help persecuted refugee immigrants;

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/10/13/guest-post-fighting-for-refugee-and-migrant-rights/comment-page-1/#comment-704716

    It’s deeply disturbing how compassion and empathy can be so readily suspended. Political parties of all hues often compete with each other to come up with the harshest policies, because apparently that’s what the electorate wants (case in point: Australia). Reality TV shows featuring people being rounded up and dragged off to the airports are popular. Not humanities finest hour. Good for you Walton for making a career of fighting a good fight.

    I haven’t come in like Mongrol hordes at a gate. My comments are measured. I refuse to suspend all empathy for this child because his parents probably vote Republican. I am not pretending he has done nothing wrong, I agree there should be consequences. I admit I don’t actually know what a truly just resolution would look like. My point, my only point, is that twenty years in jail is absurd. It would not be countenanced in any other first world country. In Norway Anders Breivik got twenty one years. Norway’s criminal justice system is more humane, and more successful, than that of the USA.

    There you go, tell me again what a terrible person I am.

  95. says

    Cripdyke @85:
    (it’s often considered useful to speak of multiple genders in US male prisons, the system that I like best with my limited knowledge describes 6)

    Do you have a citation? I am fascinated by this idea, and want to know more.

  96. ChasCPeterson says

    fuckin’ Mongrols. Only thing worse is the fuckin’ Hurns. Well, and then the fuckin’ Gorths and Vandrals.

  97. pacal says

    I agree that 20 years, considering his age at the time of the crime would be excessive. However the sentence he was actually given is a bad joke and insulting to the dead and the two living seriously injured victims. Why?

    The little shit had in the past knowing broken the law, in both driving underage and in drinking and driving including a previous incident in which he was caught. If your 16 and allowed to drive you must be held to the same care expected of an adult.

    This kid apparently displayed absolutely no remorse for his acts or accepted responsibility.

    If he is not responsible for his acts who is? And just why should he be allowed to drive at all if he isn’t going to be considered responsible. This idiot as once again it seems evaded consequences.

    My ability to empathize with someone like this twerp is minimal.

    I suggest that a few years in a juvenile facility along with a couple of hundred hours of community service, say with MADD, would have been a start, along with being confronted by the families of the victims whose lives he has destroyed.

  98. billforsternz says

    The Mongrol Hordes were little known, less successful cousins of the Mongol Hordes. They came from New Zealand bearing a message of kindness, empathy and goodwill. Unfortunately this didn’t get them very far, indeed they were promptly eaten alive by the people they hoped to befriend.

    Pacal @ 107

    I suggest that a few years in a juvenile facility along with a couple of hundred hours of community service, say with MADD, would have been a start, along with being confronted by the families of the victims whose lives he has destroyed.

    That seems very sensible and appropriate.

  99. rnilsson says

    106
    ChasCPeterson

    13 December 2013 at 5:32 pm (UTC -6)

    fuckin’ Mongrols. Only thing worse is the fuckin’ Hurns. Well, and then the fuckin’ Gorths and Vandrals.

    Barstarts, the frukkin’ lot o’em.

    Though seriously, what I want to know (not really) is who these extremely privileged parents are, and who those venal officers of the court are. Why are they not shamed into the sea? Of soiling boils? And feathered out of town?

  100. rnilsson says

    36
    Marcus Ranum

    12 December 2013 at 4:20 pm (UTC -6)

    There’s no sense in letting kids drive monster cars, with no prior education and then punishing them when they kill someone

    In all fairness: drunk drive while on opiates.

    It’s not exactly a problem with the kid not knowing how to drive.

    But is Valium an opiate? I thought it was a benzodiaper. Not that it matters materially. Stoned and pissed.

  101. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    Let’s see if I have this right. If you are a black teen walking home with candy and tea, you clearly deserve to be stalked and killed. But if you are a white teen and you kill several other people, you get to continue on with your life like nothing happened. Gotcha. Thank goodness for a post racial US. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
    *spit*