Two moral issues, one local although it has been noticed nationally, and one a longstanding national problem, are troubling me tonight.
In the Fort Worth area, a young man was sentenced to ten years probation for killing four people while driving drunk. The defense attorney came up with a deviously clever plea: affluenza. It seems the boy’s parents had showered him with everything except attention and discipline. I remember the time, now years ago, when my nephew, about the same age as this young man, locked himself out of his truck on a remote ranch road in southern Colorado. He had to walk sixteen miles for help, and he said he kept repeating to himself, “Actions have consequences.” The young man in question has never learned that lesson. Will he learn it on probation? Who knows? Ten years is a long time. As part of the deal, he is going to rehab, for which his father will pay $450,000 a year and it may take several years (wouldn't it have been cheaper and better to pay attention to the boy as he grew up?).. Once again, his parents rescue him. I know nothing about where he’s going, but I suspect he will have cushy quarters when a bit of a hardship experience might make him recognize reality and the enormity of what he’s done. But I was never in favor of a jail sentence.
Outrage has been instant over the “mild” sentence, and some have called for the dismissal of the seasoned judge who handed down the sentence. But I read something that made sense to me: if he’d been sent to prison, he’d probably be out in two years; this way, he’s under the thumb of the judicial system for ten long years. In addition he’ll get effective therapy, usually not available to kids in his situation. Yes, once again, he’s fortunate he comes from wealth. But if it makes a useful citizen out of him instead of a criminal, it’s worth the father’s money. Nothing will bring back the people he killed, but perhaps he’ll come out as a person who spends the rest of his life making amends. It’s the most we can hope for.
Gubernatorial candidate Gregg Abbot (let me be upfront: I am not a fan) is about to insert himself into the situation—to what end I’m not sure, except that action will appeal to his base. As always, right wingers need to learn about the separation of powers in our government. A citizen cannot meddle in the judicial system.
The other moral problem on my mind is on almost everyone’s mind today, the anniversary of the unimaginable horror of the massacre at Newton. I cannot begin to wrap my mind around the loss of a child or grandchild in that manner . The school shooting in Colorado and the appalling number of children killed by guns in the year since Sandy Hook only reinforce the horror. I grieve for all those parents and want to clutch close the schoolchildren in my family.
Have we learned nothing? Liberals tells us that ninety percent of people want strict gun control laws. I’m not sure. In Colorado, where shootings prompted stricter laws, the people recalled the legislators who had passed the laws. And yet there is a loud anti-gun lobby. Personally, I’d like to see them all banned, but I know that won’t work. Why are legitimate gun owners worried about gun control laws? That boggles my mind.
I don’t have an answer. Do you? We have to stop school shootings! No conflict about that.