“I Just Want This to be Over”, Compulsory Poverty and the Groveling Demand
These are the words of Rochester City Judge, Leticia Astacio. Recently sentenced to 60 days in jail plus 3 years-probation for violating the conditions of her 2016 DWI conviction, the Judge’s fall from grace is now complete. From this day forward she will forever be known as ‘hashtagdrukenjudge’. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/07/06/judge-leticia-astacio-sentenced/103462976/.
If Judge Astacio operated a vehicle while intoxicated and violated the rules of probation, she should be punished. However, carried to its extreme social scorn is often far worse than the predicate offense.
It is not enough that the scorned be punished. It is insufficient that they be humbled. They must be broken, crushed, stripped of their basic humanity, impoverished and made to beg for the most meager displays of respect and human decency.
At her sentencing hearing Judge Astacio lamented, “in addition to ruining my reputation, media coverage has prevented me from doing volunteer work. Local organizations I approached told me that they don’t want the publicity my presence would bring.” Absent a drastic change of fortune, both she and her family will soon be destitute, thereby further justifying their exclusion from polite society.
However, the consequences of long-term public scorn extend far beyond individual inequity. Fundamental social processes and institutions link us all. Homelessness, substance abuse, broken families, urban blight, decrepit neighborhoods and wasted lives, affect us all.
More burdensome is the rampant criminality and violent streets that attends negative labeling. For some, being branded a criminal is more than sufficient reason to be a criminal. While for others, being treated like a failure explains if not justifies being a failure.
Consider further that we are all expendable. One poor decision, a single mistake, an unguarded moment or personal embarrassment, caught on camera, sent to the local newspaper or uploaded onto social media and any one of us will become persona non grata.
We should therefore exercise extreme caution in how we treat others. There but for the grace of God go I.