Political correctness and vulnerability to sociopaths

Mark Cuban, tech entrepreneur, star of the TV show Shark Tank, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks pro basketball team, sparked a firestorm on Twitter last week when he admitted to being a bigot.

The firestorm was based on the sound bite:

I know I’m prejudiced. I know I’m bigoted, in a lot of different ways. If I see a black kid in a hoodie on the same side of the street, I’m probably going to walk to the other side of the street.

Some of those who lambasted Cuban ignored the continuation of his statement:

If I see a white guy with a shaved head and lots of tattoos, I’m going back to the other side of the street. If I see anybody that looks threatening, chances are there’s part of me that takes into account race and gender and age. I’m prejudiced. But other than safety issues, I always try to catch my prejudices and recognize and be very self-aware that my stream of thought is never perfect and I’ve got to be careful. To me, that’s part of growing up.

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Political correctness

Personally, I think Mark Cuban expressed what many people feel, if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves.

When we encounter someone, thoughts, feelings and impressions pop into our heads in an instant. The key, as Cuban alluded, is not that we have the thoughts. It’s that we recognize them and carefully choose how we’re going to respond to them. Are we going to act on our prejudices, or act upon our values?

I do believe that racism, bigotry and prejudice are damaging, both to the people who are victimized and to the people who are acting on these views. It is certainly true that society as a whole loses when people are prohibited from contributing all that they can because of their race, national origin, gender, religion, age or whatever.

Unfortunately, our society’s emphasis on equal opportunity expressed as “political correctness” has conditioned us to believe that we always have to give everybody a chance, and nobody should be excluded from anything for any reason.

This can be very dangerous when the person who has caused us to have negative thoughts, feelings and impressions is a sociopath.

Danger of being nonjudgmental

I’ve heard from many people who were victimized by a sociopath who got the impression, early on, that there was something wrong with the person. But they prided themselves on being nonjudgmental, open-minded and willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. So they continued their involvement with the sociopath, which turned into a disaster.

Here in the United States, we are taught to believe that everyone is created equal, there’s good in everyone, and everyone just wants to be loved.

We are not taught that there are exceptions to these cultural ideals. We are not taught that some people are social predators who pursue relationships, especially romantic relationships, for exploitation.

As a result, most of us don’t know that there are predators living among us. We are sitting ducks for sociopaths.

Trust our instincts

Here’s how to keep ourselves safe from sociopaths:

  1. Know that they exist.
  2. Know the warning signs of sociopathic behavior
  3. Trust our instincts.

Our instincts are the best protection we have for avoiding sociopaths. Our instincts were honed over millennia to warn us about predators.

So if we have a bad feeling about someone, how do we know if our internal reaction is due to prejudice, or an internal warning that the person is a predator?

There’s no easy answer to this question. What’s important is that we ask it.

Prejudice is based on having a negative view about someone because he or she belongs to a certain group or class of people.

Having a negative view about someone because of his or her own behavior, or because of our reaction to the behavior, is not prejudice. It is self-protection.


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6 Comments on "Political correctness and vulnerability to sociopaths"

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“Having a negative view about someone because of his or her own behavior, or because of our reaction to the behavior, is not prejudice. It is self-protection.”

Thank you! Well said!!!

Also, if you don’t know for a long time that they are sociopaths (I didn’t even know the word), then you think you can reason with them. Improve them. Let them see normal behaviour. I always knew there was something odd, but thought reasoning would sort it out. Impossible. As I know now to my cost. The public in general need educating about these awful evil beings

Donna, that is an excellent point. I think it’s hard for some to understand there ARE people who are unredeemable – people who move through life intent on destroying others. “Political correctness” has made it easier for these sociopaths to operate. In fact, I’ve noticed in the media how some self-proclaimed sociopaths are jumping on this, claiming THEIR rights should be protected too (as in, the right to be a sociopath and use and mistreat others)!!!

Being overly-politically correct also brings condemnation on those who are trying to keep healthy boundaries. Like you said Donna, the key is self-protection. If you feel uneasy or threatened in any way, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. We have instincts for a reason.

Donna, I am so glad you wrote a great article on what Mark Cuban stated. Although I don’t like much of what he states in the past I do think he was being truthful in this statement and like you posted our society needs to wake up and really be careful who you let close to you whether in your circle of friends or out in public.

As a female I have many times crossed the street if I was walking by myself and did not feel comfortable with the on coming person approaching. I have many times listen to my gut about others and avoid them simply because I received a bad feeling in my gut or worse my hair on the back of my neck stood up. This does not make someone “prejudice” it makes you smart for protecting yourself from danger.

Even with my ex h the first thought of meeting him was he was a tornado and the second time meeting him I though he was crazy. But because he was a friends of a friend I let my guard down looking back I am so mad at myself because I had a very precise radar gage about people especially with my ex but ignored it sadly.

Looking back I realized that my ex would suck people into his game and expect me to be friends with them even though I did not feel comfortable around them (gut alarm) he feed off of my gut reaction like a cat playing with a mouse…if I stated that I did not feel comfortable around such and such a person he would invite that person over to the house for dinner, or to stay at our house, or invite them on vacation with us. I now realize it was all to keep my anxiety level high around the other person so I was not watching what he (my ex) was getting away with ie cheating, lying manipulating etc and he enjoyed watching me stressed.

I read that humans instinctively know within 11 seconds if someone is trust worthy or not. And like you state we are conditioned by society especially with channels/shows like CNN and Oprah to give others a chance if they are different from you. You can only give a person a chance if they prove they are trust worthy period, trust must be earned first.

Why? why should we just think that person will protect us or will treat us with respect prior to them proving they are trust worthy. In Oprah’s interview with book author of Gift of Fear…she states the animal kingdom does not wait to see if its going to be safe if they hear a noise or have another animal approach them…nope they fly off or run off quickly…why because they only go by their animal instinct period and we should too.

Children are very good at just listening to their gut. Somewhere along the way political correctness kicks in and we let are guards down.

The book gift of fear by Gavin Debecker is a great read and a good reminder that you must always listen to your gut instinct to survive. Who cares if you offend someone if your gut is screaming get away from this person.

If you google “Oprah Gavin Debecker you tube” you can watch clips of her interview/life class about listening to our gut. it’s worth your time it’s very well done.

I definitely listen to my instincts now. Only a few days’ ago for instance, a man stopped me in the street holding his cell phone and looking worried. He said his mother had passed away. He needed to get to the hospital, but was £1 short of his bus fare. He talked and talked so fast. He looked shifty to me. My instincts told me he wasn’t genuine. In the old days I would have handed over the £1 no question. I told him I didn’t have any money with me. He moved off. I watched him and he did the same to another woman further along the road. Only £1 but I’m learning finally. Thanks Donna.

Being negatively judgmental is one thing. No one loves a bully.

Using your judgment is a survival instinct. You don’t need to say a word, just leave the vicinity.

These are very different subjects. You have emotions, instincts, intuition for a purpose and the ability to act. Never be afraid of their presence. Temper your external use of them with good judgment and morals/ethics.

As my daughters remind me, “don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out!”

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