The firing of engineer James Damore at Google has galvanized different views on the matter, from some criticizing the engineer who wrote the memo to others denouncing Google for it’s response (https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/07/google-fires-memo-author/). In truth though, there is blame to go around.

Contrary to the inflammatory headlines concerning James Damore’s circulated memo being “anti-diversity”, it was hardly the case in reality. Mr. Damore took the time in his 10-page submission to criticize the manner in which Google undertook it’s diversity efforts, pointing out that in the name of instituting diversity among it’s employee ranks (according to arbitrary quotas), the company…according to Mr. Damore…was diminishing respect for ideological diversity and adherence to merit in it’s practices (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586-Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.html). Indeed Mr. Damore mentions biological and philosophical differences between men and women, but such a thing is not necessarily a product of not respecting other people. By firing Mr. Damore in response to such a memo, Google in fact validated many of his criticisms regarding the topic at hand. If it were truly a beacon of diversity as advertised, the act of merely voicing an alternative viewpoint wouldn’t have been a fire-able offense. By such logic, those who advocate for better practices for women in the workplace, like Sheryl Sandberg for example (https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/03/29/sheryl-sandberg-interview-lean-in-four-years-later/99749464/), would have been fired for just such a similar raising of biological differences. Coupled with recent news that some of Google’s managers keep “blacklists” on those that they disagree with (https://www.inc.com/sonya-mann/google-manifesto-blacklists.html), and the reality shows the company to be hardly the supposed champion of free thought and diversity it touts itself to be.

This doesn’t mean that Mr. Damore is without criticism himself necessarily. He has threatened to sue Google for firing him over the memo…which basically undercuts his arguments involving ideological diversity by muddying the line between public and private venues (assuming it isn’t a violation of any contractual agreement under when Mr. Damore was hired). The First Amendment doesn’t apply to a private company, only to the government. Otherwise, everyone would be entitled to the use of someone else’s microphone/platform…a violation of their expression and speech since it would involve the encroachment of the state to enforce. It is understandable to be angry at an employer over the act of firing you, but government force involving associations is hardly an answer.

All this showcases how for many people, on all aisles of ideological inquiry, diversity is more of a word in defense of what they believe to the exclusion of all else. Such a belief, instead of being an enlightened position, only showcases a lack of faith in one’s own values. After all, if one is assured of their ideological position (particularly when they champion the importance of free thought and diversity), the presence of alternative viewpoints shouldn’t be a threat. How is one to grow as a human being if they are never challenged, which can only come in a truly open environment of inquiry and debate? Something to think about.

Extra:

Perhaps what is also missed in cases like this is discussion of the legal structure that encourages companies to preemptively punish employees for their views rather than face lawsuits later. This doesn’t absolve Google of it’s hypocrisy, but definitely something to consider – https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/legal-background-might-have-shaped-incentives-google-memo-case

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