Disassociated Press–Ft. Worth, TX
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr Thomas R Frieden released numbers on the current outbreak of affluenza in the US at a press conference Monday morning, painting a chilling picture of the dangers posed to the population, in particular the wealthy.
“The latest affluenza case in Texas merely underscores the need to take steps in the development of preventative measures,” Frieden said to the press, in reference to Ethan Couch. Couch is the Texas teen who barely escaped up to 20 years in prison when his condition was revealed to have caused him to kill four people in a drunk driving accident, paralyzing a fifth person. “A young boy’s life has taken a tragic, irrevocable turn,” Frieden continued. “Ethan Couch’s life will forever center around his treatment. We hope our estimate, which indicates about 3 million or so of the wealthiest Americans could be at risk of infection, is wrong. But, as Couch’s case shows us, we really have no way of knowing who’s infected with affluenza until it’s too late. This is why we need the support of both the public and officials, going forward.”
Affluenza is contracted when a person’s wealth is so great that it determines their ability to assess the relationship between actions and consequences. For instance, affected persons might cast a ballot to invest in public education, or donate to Planned Parenthood to increase women’s access to reproductive health services. For Ethan Couch, the consequences to his own life have been severe—among other things, he will spend 10 years of his life shadowed by a type of treatment specialist called probation officer.
Bob Gobblers, Deputy Editor of Conservative Newswire, expressed his own concerns to the Disassociated Press at a barbecue stand in Forth Worth, TX. “You know, you really should try this pulled pork sandwich,” Gobblers said, wiping barbecue sauce from his chin and speaking through a mouthful of savory animal flesh. “I can’t get over these fucking things, so good. Don’t mess with Texas, dude. That’s no joke.”
Even more concerning has been the public’s response, which has been lackluster at best, and bordering on mob mentality at worst. “Um, yeah, you probably shouldn’t be given leniency simply for having more wealth than many others,” one woman said of Ethan Couch’s case, exemplifying the histrionics surrounding affluenza. “It’s pretty awful when you think about all of the similar offenses committed by those all the way from the middle class, down to those living in poverty, who most certainly have not received leniency in court as a result of their socioeconomic status.”
Shrill declarations of class warfare aside, the most marginalized class in America—top earners and job creators—may take measures to insulate themselves from affluenza infection. “We recommend you continue to donate to outstanding pro-American non-profits like American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity,” said Karl Rove, medical health expert and Fox News contributor. “The best measures are preventative, and by donating to these groups, you are slimming ever-so-slightly at the financial waist, as well as ensuring that job creators continue to be respected in the national dialogue.”
But, respect–-and time–-may be running short for victims of affluenza, who have faced widespread stigmatization in the media and by the public. “There is no safe harbor for victims of this disease,” says Rand Williams, legal expert for Conservative Newswire. “Until full legal protections are created, until the wealthy are considered full legal persons and a protected class in the US, nowhere will be safe for top earners, whether they’re old money or new.” Williams shook his head, uncharacteristically emotional. “God help us all, that such a horrible thing could happen to that kid in Texas. But, you know who I really feel bad for? The parents. I mean, nobody ever asks about his parents. All that property, yet nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.”
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This post is dedicated to Brian Jennings, Breanna Mitchell, Hollie Boyles, and Shelby Boyles, as well as Sergio E. Molina. The four pictured below were killed in an automobile accident by Ethan Couch, who was driving drunk at the time. The fifth injured victim, Sergio E. Molina (not pictured), is reported to be paralyzed.