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I guess I should be shocked that a judge and a psychologist in Texas would see a rich white kid as a victim of his privilege before seeing the people he killed as victims of his drunkenness.

But I’m not.

That’s the thing about privilege; it extends to being able to rewrite rules and to turn logic on its head. And that’s what happened in Texas recently, in the case of 16-year-old Ethan Couch. This kid was sloppy drunk, driving 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, and, as a result, killed four people, including a mother and daughter, and severely injured another.

But his parents’ money bought him a good lawyer and a cunning psychologist who told the court that Ethan was a victim of too much privilege; that he had never been reprimanded for his actions in the past and therefore, was not responsible for the deaths that he caused.

Poor Ethan, he said, suffered from “affluenza.” And the judge apparently bought it; instead of sending him to juvenile hall for 20 years with probation eligibility after two years, he gave Ethan 10 years of probation.

I call that white privilege on steroids. But it’s easy to see how things have come to this.

For many years now, white youths and rich white people in general, have been able to get away with crimes that black people, and especially poor black people, would be put under the jail for.

An example: A 2005 Urban League report showed that black men are three times more likely to be jailed for crimes than white men once they are arrested, and 24.4 percent of black people arrested that year were incarcerated, compared to 8.3 percent of white men.

“Affluenza”: An Illness Concocted By the Virus of White Privilege  was originally published on

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