Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Monday, January 20, 2014


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD., Traditional Realist

We are constantly bombarded by “bleeding hearts” stating that even when a person commits a horrific act he should not receive a significant punishment.  They argue people who are ready to judge and label the committing of a horrendous act should first examine the life of the perpetrator to understand the reason for his inhumanity to others. There are always circumstances that caused his actions that are not of his own volition.

The scenario usually unfolds where the person was brought up in poverty and experienced many difficult circumstances, often abusive ones. His outrageously anti social behavior should be viewed through a lens of pity for the unfortunate socio-economic conditions into which he was born.

There is no acknowledgement by these defenders and protectors of evil acts that most other people brought up in the same or worse situations have become productive and law abiding citizens. This notion that people have no control over their behavior is based on a false premise that their economic status is at fault for their disastrous decisions.

A new wrinkle has been introduced to get people off the hook for their hateful, despicable and even lethal behavior. It is not only poverty, but wealth that now results in twisted souls who do horrible things. 

A 16 year-old Texan from a rich family was given 10 years probation for killing 4 pedestrians with his vehicle. He had stolen two cases of beer and his blood-alcohol level was 3 times the legal limit when he drove 70 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone.  Ethan Couch will serve no time or do no community service for his murdering four people.

The initial problem for his defense is he did not come from a disadvantaged home. He was raised in an affluent life style that granted him every advantage to ease into a wonderful future.

Thus the defense created a novel line of reasoning to dismiss his fatally irresponsible behavior. Since they could not use the poverty angle to exonerate him from his despicable behavior as he was raised with a silver spoon in his mouth, they developed the “affluenza” defense. They absurdly argued that his life had too much wealth and privilege to learn right from wrong and a sense of decency to respect the rights of others.

They claimed that being spoiled was a detriment to being taught the difference between right and wrong. This bizarre reasoning translates into all abusive behavior, no matter how bad, should not receive punishment because all economic circumstances present significant liabilities in learning moral behavior.  A person can be a victim of having a too easy childhood without any consequences for wrong-doing.

In essence all anti social behavior can be rationalized away by describing the shortcomings of how they were raised on either end of the economic spectrum.
The successful “affluenza” defense illustrates that our culture is eliminating the distinctions between right and wrong, good from bad. Parents, schools, churches and even law enforcement are not enforcing punishment for serious negative behavior. We are becoming a non-judgmental society where sociopathic behavior has become legitimized.  This should frighten every individual who wants to live a safe, peaceful existence.

When immoral monsters are granted immunity from punishment every law-abiding citizen’s risk of becoming a victim rises. Random killings, home invasions, kidnapping and other sorts of violent crimes become mundane acts of little consequence to others.  Everyone should be blasé about violence.

In order to remain a predictable and safe nation we have to enforce limits to protect the decent and innocent.  Being non judgmental when a person consciously crosses the line into abusive behavior only increases lawlessness and brutality.

The vast majority of people have to live a moral life to create a moral society. The pendulum is still swinging towards an increasingly decadent society where all behaviors, good and bad are becoming moral equivalents.

Affluenza, poverty or any other socio-economic reason does not prevent a person from living a healthy, good and God-fearing life.

A human inherently understands right from wrong just by observing the people around him. Let’s keep everyone accountable by giving appropriate consequences for good as well as harmful actions. The pendulum will naturally swing in the other directions where evil actions are smothered before they manifest in the individual and the entire society.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at

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