Comment of the Day: “Ethics Observations On The “Affluenza” Sentence”
Never thought I’d ever use this phrase, but my response to your last sentence might be this; “hate the system, not the (wo)man”. If the state programs suck that badly, something bigger is off then the judgement of a single judge.
Also, given that Theo’s a newcomer, might be best if you could inform him of your response and give him a chance to talk back, if he’s just bookmarked the original post and doesn’t plan on following the rest of the blog.
I always liked Jack’s unconventional but well-founded take on it.
Just a minor observation in response to Theodoric’s point six you state “All sentencing guidelines emphasize tailoring the sentence to the individual and the facts of the particular case.” This is not a true statement in that there are many states with mandatory minumu sentences for drug cases and well as the 3 strikes you’re out laws. Both of which tie a judges hands when it comes to sentencing defendents in certain cases.
And with all of that said, and I apologize if this has already been said, but….if I were wealthy, I would be incensed at the idea that being affluent precludes one from teaching basic morals and values to one’s offspring.
How does a court order from the state of Texas have any legal standing in the state of California?
“Teenage Affluenza” is the name of a very well-made short promo spot by World Vision promoting their 30-Hour Famine events (teens raise money to fight hunger by getting sponsors to go hungry for 30 hours, usually with a group and with accompanying social projects.)
It’s worth a YouTube search; the spot is very well done and funny. It is also AT LEAST a few years old. I was showing it to teens back in 2009 or so and I don’t think it was new then.
This makes me think that whoever originated the pun definitely wasn’t the first and might have stolen the idea.
Also, in the World Vision ad, “affluenza” is a joke and not to be taken seriously at all. Which makes me wonder if someone actually saw it online and thought that it WASN’T a joke, or simply thought “cute, I can steal this.”
Or, it could all be just a great big coincidence.
Here’s the link, anyways:
With regards to logical fallacies (which intrigue me): No, you cannot commit a true Ad Hominem fallacy against a source, as it means “against the man.” However, the flavor of it isn’t quite right either. An Ad Hom would be saying something like “of course you can’t trust them to be fair about this, they are left wingers who hate rich people” or “they are right wingers who hate mercy in the justice system.” or even just “They’re based in Georgia, and you know southerners aren’t the brightest crayons.” It’s an irrelevant attack on credibility, possibly with an insinuation that it is somehow connected to the truth.
The more accurate fallacy to be commited against a source is “Poisoning the Well,” where a line is dropped into speech that indicates the source is not to be trusted, again, in an irrelevant way. We see this all the time when some think tank or other is identified as a liberal or conservative think tank on the news- they are setting us up to dismiss everything the group says as partisan. However, it’s not a true fallacy to say “this source is often found to be untruthful, govern yourselves accordingly.” It would be a fallacy to say that, given his example, an 80% rate of lying GUARANTEED that a given statement is a lie, but if you can point out that 4/5 of the statements from a source are untrue it is perfectly legitimate and relevant to use that as an indicator of their discretion and likeliness to be telling the truth.
“On point four, I don’t disagree with Theo’s thoughts here at all. I do think the chances of Ethan being reformed by the judge’s formula, however slim, are better than his chances being sent to prison until he was a middle-aged man, his life ruined. I don’t have a lot of hope for him.”
Honestly, this young man’s life was ruined before he ever got behind the wheel of that vehicle, the crime that he committed was merely evidence of that ruin.
Characterizing detention as the “ruin” of his young life is IMO mischaracterizing the situation and providing far too much empathy for someone who just killed four people and paralyzed one through criminal negligence. Not just “oops I made a mistake” but “I have a criminal disregard for the well-being of others.”
The goal of our penal system is a combination of removal of risk from society (for repeat offenders), punishment for crimes, and rehabilitation. While rehabilitation is important, especially in a situation like this, it should not be the sole basis for judgment. In this case, I fail to see how the defendant is receiving any substantive punishment at all.
So I ask, should we not expect that he would receive actual punishment, given the multiple criminal acts he perpetrated to create this train-wreck of lives lost, rather than probation and a very suspect rehabilitation environment?
Obviously the person writing this article is trying hard to be a jerk. And succeeding at it. Our innate sense of fairness has produced laws, not the other way around. My innate sense of fairness is says this is wrong. There are no hidden pertinent facts that I need to know — we would have known them by now.
And it’s repulsive that you respond to the pertinent comment that sentences must not be tailored to the recipient’s wealth with a pickung and choosing game that reeks bias.
Ho ahead now and amaze me with an equally pertinent reply, “Professor”.
I don’t think this is the same “Theodoric of York” who authored this excellent “Comment of the Day”…at least I hope it isn’t.
The heat/ light ratio in the comments to the post about the controversial sentencing of a 16-year-old scofflaw in Texas has been depressing, but among the rational, measured, well-considered and thought-provoking responses by those who actually read the post, this one, by new commenter Theodoric of York, is a winner. His politeness is especially appreciated among all the posts calling me names that would shock my mother. I hope he comes again, and often.
I’ll have some further comments after he’s had his say. Meanwhile, here is Theodoric of York’s Comment or the Day on the post Ethics Observations on the “Affluenza” Sentence.
I’m back. regarding Theo’s first point: I agree completely. At a gut level, the sentence feels wrong, and a gut level is where most of its critics and much of the news media seems determined to stay. I have never said that I liked the sentence, or that I would have duplicated it, were I the judge. Regarding the second point: I think calling “affluenza” a condition was a stretch indeed, and reportedly the psychiatrist whop used the term now regrets it. I don’t think it is at all a stretch to say that a child’s family and upbringing have left him without any sense of ethical values, compassion or responsibility, and that is really all that was being alleged here. The same defense has been made, and accepted, routinely on behalf of ghetto kids and children raised in unstable families. I think it’s framing was junk; the argument itself is well within ethical bounds. Regarding point three and the Daily Kos: there is no such thing as an ad hominem argument against a source. The Daily Kos is an unreliable source, biased, dishonest, and untrustworthy. I so stated up front. I had already stated that the representation of the sentence was misleading, and was not using the previous record of the Kos to prove anything. My description of the site as “reliably truth-challenged” simply meant, in context, “They do this stuff all the time.” And so they do. As for the fact that the judge “did agree with the defense that rehab and probation was warranted,” that is insignificant. Every defense attorney wants that; it’s not an argument, it’s an objective. The news stories all used the “sided with” wording to suggest that Boyd “bought” the affluenza defense. That was misrepresentation.
On point four, I don’t disagree with Theo’s thoughts here at all. I do think the chances of Ethan being reformed by the judge’s formula, however slim, are better than his chances being sent to prison until he was a middle-aged man, his life ruined. I don’t have a lot of hope for him.
Point five: I think this is just wrong, and shows unfamiliarity with treatment centers. Yes, the expensive ones try to make the experience less miserable than they might be, but if the place isn’t a sham, it will not be any fun. The question is, will it have the desired effect? We shall see.
I think point six is misconceived as well. All sentencing guidelines emphasize tailoring the sentence to the individual and the facts of the particular case. I have not seen an example raised that would sustain an “equal justice” challenge. Show me another teen in a drunk driving vehicular homicide case who the same judge sends away for a decade, and I might be convinced. The real conundrum is this: if comes before the same judge a poor, black defendant, like Couch but poor and a minority, whose parents cannot afford the private treatment, and Boyd is convinced that the state programs don’t work, would her decision to sentence that kid to prison as the best option available be evidence of bias, or evidence of pragmatism?