The ugly entitlement culture of the affluent

The controversy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court opened the curtain on the life of the children of the affluent and what it revealed was not pretty. It seemed like those who attended these expensive private prep schools grew up with a sense of entitlement that, in the case of the boys, extended to feeling entitled to force themselves on women. The fact that his prep school had its own nine-hole golf course on the campus should tell you all that you need to know about what kind of money the parents who send their children there must have and what kind of person graduates from it.

I am of course painting with a very broad brush. I am sure there are some very decent graduates to emerge from these schools, and some of them have been outraged at the reports that have emerged about what went on and have stood in solidarity with Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford. The point is that the entire environment these young people grew up in allows for the worst kinds of attitudes to develop and impulses to be indulged, even if not all of them did so

The amount of drinking that went on in the homes of these students suggests that parents gave these students plenty of spending money and left them unsupervised so that they could throw drunken parties on a routine basis. So we should not be surprised that, reading between the lines, Kavanaugh’s attitude during the hearings was: “So what if I used to get blindingly drunk, belligerent, treated women like dirt, and sexually assaulted some of them. I’m a privileged white man who went to elite private schools and elite universities and my family knows all the right people so I deserve to be on the Supreme Court, dammit!”

Jon Schwarz and Camille Barker write that Georgetown Prep and other schools in that area knew there was a problem as far back as 1990 when the principlas jointly sent a letter to all parents that warned them of sexual and violent behavior occurring at parties. Georgetown Prep had “held a conference with parents to discuss the problem of unsupervised parties” while the head of another school said that they had decided to write a joint letter to indicate the seriousness of the problem.

These parents are often the same people who take a deeply censorious attitude to the misbehavior of young people who come from poor backgrounds and moralize to their parents of those who go astray and fall afoul of the law that they need to better monitor their children’s behavior by always knowing where they are and what they are doing. These parents did not seem to feel the need to do that with their own children since their wealth and position insulates them from fear of any police crackdown on their behavior. Police well know where the wealthy and powerful live and whose children need to be dealt with gently, and where the poor and powerless live, who can be summarily arrested, beaten, and even killed.

In the biting satire Being There. Peter Sellers plays Chance, a gardener with the mind of a child who has led a highly sheltered life with the TV as his only access to the outside world. By sheer accident, when he does step outside the wall of his home for the first time as an adult, he gets mistaken by the ruling elite, including the US president, for a wise savant whose every banal utterance about gardening, though meant literally by him, is taken as a metaphor with deep meaning that has to be interpreted. His black nanny, watching on TV his meteoric rise in influence and being utterly mystified by the adulation given to someone she knows as a simpleton, hits the nail on the head at the end of this trailer.


  1. says

    I was in a preppy boy’s high school in Baltimore, at the same time as Kavanaugh was in high school. I remember a few of the house parties -- there were legends of tremendous damage done to people’s house when their parents were away.

    I wasn’t interested in the mess but I wound up repairing some drywall for a kid, before his parents got home from vacation, which earned me some eternal gratitude. And another time I walked a young lady home (no cars yet!) from one of those parties that she had wisely decided to leave. We were happy together for several years after that, and are still friends almost 40 years later.

    The beach breaks were, it sounds like, the worst. Hearing the locker room talk about who did what was pretty gross. We had hard-core alcoholics in 9th grade, and a fair number of tobacco addicts, too. One carload of my classmates died in a high-speed rollover with alcohol involved. Everyone wrung their hands about the tragedy but most of us who were in the know recognized that the individuals involved were some of the biggest party animals and it was not unexpected.

    What does it feel like to go through life with a closet packed full of skeletons that might fall out at any time?

  2. John Morales says

    What does it feel like to go through life with a closet packed full of skeletons that might fall out at any time?

    Better than having the skeletons actually fall out, obviously.

    And good luck telling young people that they’re stuffing skeletons into the closet…

  3. Mano Singham says

    John @#2,

    I am not sure that having the skeletons fall out is always worse. Sometimes, living with fear of exposure is so bad that it may come as a relief to have the skeleton emerge and deal with the consequences. There are cases of people dropping hints and clues about their dark secret in the hope that they will be found out and freed from the perpetual fear,

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