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September 14th, 2019

a cure for affluenza

Friday consumed time dealing with a family matter and various uilities in another city. I felt pleased with my progress. Last night we went for Mexican food at local eatery Chepas. Before dinner, I walked in A.R. Schell Park. I listened to the Destination Linux Podcast as I walked.

I watched an episode of the reboot of Lost in Space, and an episode of Perry Mason. The latter featured the only cameo appearance by the author of the book series, Erle Stanley Gardner. I like the idea of an author who wrote 80+ mysteries after tryin his hand as a self-educated lawyer.

The sentencing of the actress Felicity Huffman to 14 days' incarceration as punishment for paying $ 15,000 to hire professional test-score-alterers holds my interest. I recognize the huge disparity between the sentence and that afforded perpetrators of similarly palpable but non-violent crimes. Yet despite the interest in this aspect of the story, I find myself drawn to the institutional corruption that afflicts elite educational institutions beyond this "side door" (a euphemism for use of bribery and chicanery to achieve admission for wealthy but not mega-rich parents). I find myself interested in the way that money and those combinations of advantages now sometimes classed under the general rubric "privilege" result in a system that devalues actual merit and celebrates money and connections.

I feel a similar disquiet about the MIT Media Lab situation, in which officials knowingly took in anonymous donations from Jeffrey Epstein foundations in a manner that violated MIT rules. The head of the Media Lab, Joi Ito, appropriately resigned when this wrongdoing became known.  Less appropriately, Professor Larry Lessig wrote a defense of Media Lab head Joi Ito, While I recognize Professor Lessig's right to express his opinion, I do not agree with his election to defend any aspect of what happened.

I find myself particularly disquieted by a culture in which the insiders rally round to explain that it is okay when their supporters commit illegal acts or disregard the rules or should be held to a different standard because they are nobler than the law, while the ordinary person on the street arrested for similar crimes receives little or no such consideration.

The problem is not confined to MIT or B list actors. Here in Texas, the "affluenza kid" and the "affluenza mom" have illustrated that even the dealhs of four people in a drunk driving incident can be excused if one's family has enough money and not enough skills at child-rearing.

One part of the aftermath of this sorry interlude has been the subsequent events involving so-called "affluenza mom" . She has built quite a history of brushes with the law after allegedly helping her son to flee to Mexico.

I want to see a world in which things are a  bit more fairly handled. Ms. Huffman's abject apology is a small start--the end of actions such as Ms. Huffman's would be a much bigger beginning.





from Dreamwidth, because two posts of the same text are twice as nice