Some verbal atrocities are either too offensive or too absurd to ever be forgotten. Like Jonathan Gruber’s candid admission that “the stupidity of the American voter … was really, really critical for [Obamacare] to pass.” Or Brian Williams misremembering that he had been shot down in a helicopter. Or Al Gore’s claim that he invented the internet (although, in all fairness, that was not quite what he said).
But few violations of common sense and common decency compare to that of Jean Boyd, the judge who concluded that probation and rehab were sufficient punishment for Ethan Crouch — after he pled guilty to taking the lives of four people while driving drunk — because he was a victim of affluenza.
Now, two years later, after Ethan Crouch has violated his parole, fled to Mexico with his mother, and finally ended up back in custody, the Washington Post would like us to reconsider whether the diagnosis is really so ridiculous after all. Rallying experts to support his case, Post editor Fred Barbash suggests that affluenza may indeed be an authentic malady, citing ASU professor of psychology Suniya S. Luthar and Barry Schwartz of Swarthmore College:
“High-risk behavior, including extreme substance abuse and promiscuous sex, is growing fast among young people from communities dominated by white-collar, well-educated parents. These kids … show serious levels of maladjustment as teens, displaying … marijuana and alcohol abuse, including binge drinking [and] abuse of illegal or prescription drugs.”[What also stands out] is the type of rule-breaking – widespread cheating and random acts of delinquency such as stealing from parents or peers among the affluent, as opposed to behavior related to self-defense, such as carrying a weapon, among the inner-city teens.”
“[What also stands out] is the type of rule-breaking – widespread cheating and random acts of delinquency such as stealing from parents or peers among the affluent, as opposed to behavior related to self-defense, such as carrying a weapon, among the inner-city teens.”
And finally: Serious depression or anxiety among affluent kids is “is two to three times national rates.”
No arguments from this quarter. But what does not appear in Mr. Barbash’s lengthy commentary is even the most meager attempt to identify why affluence produces teenage miscreants. What is it about growing up with every possible advantage that predisposes so many children to criminally irresponsible behavior?
The answer is quite simple.