in 2014, a tragic car accident ended the lives of 4 people. The driver in was drunk. Way past the legal limit of alcohol that a person should consume and call themselves driving a vehicle. This person plowed into a crowd of people, leaving four people dead.
The person behind this accident, Rashad Ownes faced judgement this past week. His sentence for the crime – life in jail. Sounds about right doesn’t it. He killed four people. He was drunk. The people he killed were innocent victims, they had no dealings with him prior to this. Just a very tragic story that will now result in another life lost.
This story sounds eerily like another story. A story where a teen drove drunk and plowed into a group of people, killing four. The person behind the car was named Ethan Couch.
Ethan never claimed that he wasn’t guilty. I mean, how could you. You were the one driving. You were alone. You were drunk and when all the carnage was cleared, you were the one left standing.
Yet, it was the sentence he received that puzzled most of America and brings me to the point of this story. Couch’s defense team presented a legal strategy that could basically called “White Privilege 101.”
A psychiatrist hired by the family determined that Couch should not be found guilty at all due to his up-bringing. They weren’t saying he grew up in some broken home that led him to make a series of bad decisions that culminated in this one big bad decision. No, their argument was that his privilaged background is what stopped him from learning right and wrong. According to the doctor, his parents wealth and they way the spoiled him, left him without morals.
So according to his team, he could’ve flew a plane into the WTC and shouldn’t be held responsible due to his parents lavish spending on him growing up.
Unless you’ve been under a rock over the last few weeks, you’re very much aware what happened to Couch after a judge agreed with the defense and granted him probation over jail time. A video surfaced showing Couch, now in college, violating his probation. Ahead of him being sentenced to jail because of his violation, he spit! Literally, left the country. Along with his mother, he took off to Mexico in an attempt to avoid jail time. He was found in a hotel room in Putero Vallarta.
Apprently, his mother was summoned to pay a strip club tab when the two were captured.
Learning about his story and knowing about Rashad’s story made think about how judgement is handed down. Both these situations occurred in the same state, so we can’t say that was the difference in ruling. Both drivers were under the influence on alcohol when they committed their crime. Both we’re clearly guilty. Yet one man is now looking at a life sentence and the other is trying to figure out why he’s not still at a Mexican resort.
There’s only one real difference and that’s class. For some reason, Ethan’s life of luxury was a built in reason as to why he can’t make good decisions, where Rashad never had the time to explain how his background shaped his moment. Without looking at any court documents, I can tell you that his life prior to the accident had no effect on his ruling. What he did was pretty, what happened, all that was pretty cut and dry. Like how it should’ve been for Ethan.
Instead, we have a total of 8 families missing family members. Half of them can say that they’ve achieved any type of closure.
Ethan Couch, his defense and the judge who ruled in his favor did more a disservice to victims and law than anything else. They basically told his victims that they didn’t matter because Ethan’s family was rich enough to not have to care.
In a world now where young Black teens are killed by police officers, militia groups roam the Midwest and West like lone wolves, and a majority of the country is split behind that race plays when determing law, these two rulings should concern you.
Race has and will always be a big deciding factor when it comes to judgement in a court of law, but we can’t ignore the bigger role class has in those same cases. This is something we should really pay close attention too. Especially as we have one Presidential candidate who brags about his wealth and what it can make people do.
Don’t get so lost on the race debate that you forget that the class war is still on and popping. That you’re level of wealth can dictate more about how you end up in the judicial system than anything else.
Always remember, Bernie Madoff didn’t go to jail for fleecing his small-time investors. He wasn’t sentenced because of the money he stole from everyday people. No, he was jailed because of what he did to big investors.
Don’t paint your eye sight with a color so thick that you stereotype and judge those you perceive different from you. As much as you might want to believe you’re sitting in first class, but in actuality you’re sitting in coach with the rest of us.
Don’t believe me? Commit a crime.