You have probably heard the story by now and I was off pursuing other interests when this story broke but I thought it was so symbolic of what is wrong with America today that I decided to run with it even though I am a day late. When I sat down to write this post I was imagining myself as that old man shaking his fist in the air standing on his dichondra lawn shouting “You KIDS!”
18 year-old Ms. Penelope Soto was caught yesterday with 108 milligrams of Xanax in her possession, I am not exactly sure what that means, but I am told that is a lot for one person but not enough to have her accused of selling. When called to stand before the judge Ms. Soto certainly thought quite a bit about herself as she giggled and preened herself more like she was flirting in a club than someone standing before the person that can tell them whether they are going home or going to jail.
This is not obvious from the video, but as a lawyer I know that the judge and the two attorneys (both heard but off camera) are trying to help this girl who happens to be a first time offender. The public defender is trying to get himself appointed as her lawyer (for free) and the prosecutor is recommending a drug diversion program rather than jail for this jail newbie. The plucky Ms. Soto doesn’t know when to shut up and acts like she is smarter than everyone else in the courtroom. She brags to the judge that she has as much bling as a rapper and then goes into what looks like a minor drug induced seizure.
Since she has now declared that she has the means to hire a lawyer the judge rightfully refuses to give her a free lawyer or to let her go without bail indicating that “she can sell her jewelry.” Now understand (and you will see for yourself) the judge has been VERY patient to this point nudging her to act more appropriately so that it can appear that she is at least pretending she is facing potentially serious consequences. Ms. Soto will have none of it and when the judge dismisses here she flippantly waves the judge away saying “adios.”
The judge has no clearly lost patience, though he maintains his demeanor, and demands that Ms. Soto return. Soto struts back into the courtroom with the air of a rockstar and asks the judge “wassup?” The judge doubles her bail to $10,000 and for the first time Ms. Soto reacts in a way that lets you know that she finally understands her surroundings as she clutches her face and gasps in horror. Not happy that she no longer feels in control, the arrogant Ms. Soto turns her back and walks away from the judge flipping him the bird and shouting “f*#% You.”
To his credit the judge is able to maintain a judicial demeanor and beckons the rude and arrogant Ms. Soto back into the courtroom. Before the judge can even say anything Ms. Soto, arms folded across her chest, petulantly says “I said it and I am not going to take it back.” The startled judge looks at her patiently and asks “Did you just say F*#@ You to me?” Ms. Soto again petulantly confirms that she did. The Judge doesn’t miss a beat and says “I find you in criminal contempt, 30 days in jail.” Ms. Soto still fighting the stupid fight says “fine” and is finally allowed to the leave the courtroom. Watch for yourself.
All kids throughout history were cocky and thought that they were right and took their lumps when far more often than not their arrogance was misplaced and it turned out that they were completely wrong. This generation of kids is fundamentally different. They have been told that they are special and unique since birth. They have been given trophies and grades for showing up. We have worried far more about creating strong self-esteem than strong young adults. This generation has been raised that when they get in trouble in school or with the law it is the fault of the school or the system. Misguided parents have “protected” their children from the consequences of their actions.
Ms. Soto is symbolic of all of these horrible parenting techniques. She came into court KNOWING that she was right and that she should not have consequences and, probably for the first time in her life, ran into someone who was going to hold her accountable. I guarantee you that Ms. Soto is sitting in her cell right now KNOWING the system screwed her with no recognition at all that she is the one responsible for her plight. We have raised a generation of helpless children, I pray for our country’s youth nightly.