Google sued over 'male discrimination'
January 8, 2018 5:12 PM   Subscribe

James Damore, the Google employee who was fired in August for posting an anti-diversity memo to an internal forum, has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that Google "unfairly discriminates against white men whose political views are unpopular with its executives.".

Damore made news in August after he posted a memo entitled Google's Ideological Echo Chamber, which claimed that "women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women."

Damore and a second plaintiff, a former Google engineer named David Gudeman are seeking class-action status for anyone who identifies as conservative, Caucasian, or male.

Previously, previously
posted by torisaur (185 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hahahahahaha look at these assholes.
posted by minervous at 5:16 PM on January 8 [88 favorites]


This is a PR stunt. He has no chance against the Google law fleet. He must have a book coming out.

Shut the fuck up James.
posted by adept256 at 5:18 PM on January 8 [46 favorites]


Now where did I put that link to popcorn.gif?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:18 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Ha. Whut. Go home white oppressed techbro, yer drunk.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 5:19 PM on January 8 [13 favorites]


The only fascinating thing in this lawsuit, several pages down, if he is even remotely accurately reporting anything, which is not a given, is him saying that at Google, Asian people are not considered part of diversity - that preference is given to non-Asian as well as non-white dudes.
posted by corb at 5:22 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


oh for fuck's sake
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:23 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Pretty sure that "asshole" isn't a protected class.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:25 PM on January 8 [85 favorites]


He was a biological statistician who was bad at both biology and statistics and lied on his resume, to boot.

Also, apparently, a simpering manbaby. Perhaps he'd have an easier time at gainful employment if he wasn't so bad at, well, basically everything.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:27 PM on January 8 [43 favorites]


My eyes rolled so quickly that they went back in time to yesterday and now everything I'm seeing is 24 hours out of sync, send help
posted by duffell at 5:27 PM on January 8 [178 favorites]


In an interview with CNBC, for example, he compared being a conservative at Google to “being gay in the 1950s.”
Er... so, it's something you can go to prison for? Something people can kill you for, and claim they were panicked to discover you were one of THOSE, and get off without punishment?
Damore’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, a California representative for the Republican National Committee
Well, that does make sense.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:28 PM on January 8 [88 favorites]


Wait I was wrong. Damore isn’t the biggest asshole. Gudeman (which, seriously is this a medieval morality play?), who joins on this class action suit, apparently said that an anti bias training was “like something slave owners would have written for their slaves to tell them how to treat their masters.”
posted by corb at 5:31 PM on January 8 [67 favorites]


So... is this the first time memes have been submitted as evidence for a lawsuit (exhibit B in the lawsuit document)?
posted by torisaur at 5:38 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]




Google employees must really regret not getting to work on a team with this dude.
posted by Artw at 5:39 PM on January 8 [31 favorites]


From Nitasha Tiku at Wired, "James Damore's Lawsuit Is Designed to Embarrass Google":
Damore’s complaint includes 86 pages of screenshots from internal Google discussion forums, presented as evidence of alleged “anti-conservative” and “anti-Caucasian” bias, or Google’s alleged support for political violence (such as Nazi-punching). Immediately, the images became among the largest troves of internal Google discussions exposed to the public, including some images with the full names and profile pictures of Google employees, some of whom previously have been harassed for their opposition to the memo. Many are written with the earnest, unguarded candor of people who did not expect their words to travel outside of Google.
posted by mhum at 5:40 PM on January 8 [23 favorites]


Something Awful yospos thread has a couple peeps on the same team as Tim, the guy who gets doxxed most often there, apparently
posted by hleehowon at 5:40 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The lawsuit also alleges that the company maintains separate lists of conservative personalities, including right-wing blogger Curtis Yarvin and InfoWars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, to prevent them from stepping foot on Google's campus.

First, the last time I checked, this was legal because of the First Amendment.

Second, would you want crazed conspiracy theorists on your property?
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:42 PM on January 8 [20 favorites]


So is this a new thing for asshole alt-right dudes? Doxing by bogus lawsuit? Blackmail via discovery?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:44 PM on January 8 [18 favorites]


Man, the assholes store is never out of stock, is it?

Is this a publicity stunt for his forthcoming book and/or podcast and/or YouTube channel and/or media gig?
posted by nubs at 5:45 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


"unfairly discriminates against white men whose political views are unpopular with its executives."

Normally businesses are free to discriminate in employment based on political views, I think. Maybe the legal theory is that a different standard of political-views scrutiny is applied to white men vs. other races and sexes.

But I would've thought that was probably legal, too. We got any employment lawyers in here?
posted by grobstein at 5:46 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


And on the other side of the spectrum:

The class-action lawsuit accusing Google of deliberately paying women less than men has been revised and brought back to a US court.

(Warning: While there are times I get a kick out of reading The Register's comments, this is not one of those topics that lends itself to a readable comments section.)
posted by sardonyx at 5:47 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


James Damore's Lawsuit Is Designed to Embarrass Google

I do not think that is who should be embarrassed here.
posted by biogeo at 5:50 PM on January 8 [23 favorites]


>I do not think that is who should be embarrassed here.

I dunno, they did hire this guy at one point.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:57 PM on January 8 [53 favorites]


“like something slave owners would have written for their slaves to tell them how to treat their masters.”''

Well, surely only the slaves who were being paid six-figure salaries.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:58 PM on January 8 [21 favorites]


Normally businesses are free to discriminate in employment based on political views, I think.

IANAL, but I think political views are a protected class with respect to employment in California. I've no clue whether that applies here.
posted by jcreigh at 5:58 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


His lawyer may be unintentionally (?) correct, the best kind.
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 6:00 PM on January 8 [11 favorites]


SLAVES WERE NOT ALLOWED TO LEARN HOW TO READ
posted by XMLicious at 6:02 PM on January 8 [47 favorites]


> Damore’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon

OMG. I had only seen headlines about this today and didn't bother to click through, but oh my. I went to college with Harmeet. She was, if not editor then...something else high up? of the Dartmouth Review (which also produced convicted felon Dinesh D'Souza and Laura Ingraham), and a few years a go I was highly HIGHLY amused to discover that she lives in San Francisco and was running for Tom Ammiano's seat, touting her history as a civil rights attorney. You had to dig deep in her campaign website to find she was running on the Republican ticket.

I will be over here, rolling around laughing.
posted by rtha at 6:09 PM on January 8 [49 favorites]


James Damore's Lawsuit Is Designed to Embarrass Google

If we must pay any attention to this shitfit, some points in Google's favor emerge from this whiny complaint:
Google Maintains Secret Blacklists of Conservative Authors

On August 26, 2016, Curtis Yarvin, a well-known conservative blogger ["Mencius Moldbug"] who has reportedly advised Steve Bannon, Peter Thiel, and other members of the Trump administration, visited the Google office to have lunch with an employee. This triggered a silent alarm, alerting security personnel to escort him off the premises.

It was later discovered that other influential conservative personalities, including Alex Jones and Theodore Beale [Gamergate-backer and Rabid Puppies organizer "Vox Day"], are also on the same blacklist.

On or about September 15, 2016, a Google employee asked HR if the writerscould be removed from the blacklist. HR refused to help with the request, and instead, reconfigured the internal system so that it was no longer possible to see who was on the blacklist.
Milo Yiannopoulos must be steamed his name wasn't mentioned.

And since Alex Jones and Vox Day have both been involved in the Pizzagate conspiracy hoax that resulted in workplace violence, Google should be within its rights to ban them from its premises.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:10 PM on January 8 [37 favorites]


Damore should use his systems biology training to look for the brain worms in his own head.
posted by benzenedream at 6:13 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


This is an audition for membership in the Wingnut Welfare club, nothing more. "See, he's so oppressed! Let's put him on the payroll for life!"

Because nobody is going to ever hire him again in a tech capacity.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:13 PM on January 8 [56 favorites]


This lawsuit looks so great for Google's much more plausible and potentially much more expensive female discrimination lawsuits, that I almost wonder whether Damore is secretly still on their payroll.
During the March 30, 2017 TGIF meeting, either Porat or Naughton pointed out and shamed individual departments at Google in which women comprised less than 50% of the workforce. Alternatively, they applauded and praised departments, such as the sales department, where women comprised more than 50% of the workforce.

During the event, Porat and Naughton also discussed that when looking at groups of people for promotions or for leadership opportunities on new projects, Google would be taking into account gender and ethnic demographics. They then mentioned that Google’s racial and gender preferences in hiring were not up for debate, because this was morally and economically the best thing to do for Google.
posted by Coventry at 6:17 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


My favorite tweet:
WHEEEEEEEEN

THEEEEEEEEE

white Google man

Files a suit that is panned

That's Damore ...
@HayesBrown
posted by octobersurprise at 6:28 PM on January 8 [91 favorites]


[One deleted; there are a couple of "previously" links in the post that are worth taking a look at if you haven't heard of this guy or haven't heard why people disagree with him.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:34 PM on January 8 [9 favorites]


Damore must be broke. I can't imagine any other reason to sue, because what he did was not protected and a good lawyer would've told him so. He created a hostile working environment with his "essay", and Google was within their rights to fire him. Where is the case? I suppose he's looking for a settlement of some kind, along with keeping his name out there.
posted by droplet at 6:47 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


He's looking for a book deal and a spot on the wingnut welfare circuit.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:49 PM on January 8 [30 favorites]


The funny thing about white conservative men is they consistently support capitalism and companies who lobby for "at will" hiring and firing practices. If you're upset that a company fired you but you don't support equal rights laws or unions, then maybe you should reevaluate your political views?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:51 PM on January 8 [109 favorites]


From the Wired article:
Dhillon said she didn’t know whether Google was actually doing this, but said employees openly discussed altering rankings to not display racist, white supremacist, anti-gay and anti-semitic content. “Don’t be surprised if they start steering you in a different direction,” Dhillon said.
YES PLEASE.
posted by Lexica at 6:53 PM on January 8 [22 favorites]


When the door
Hits your butt
And your 5 mins
Are up
That's Damore
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 6:53 PM on January 8 [49 favorites]


When your
stupid lawsuit
shows that you're
a big douche
that's Damore
posted by entropone at 6:55 PM on January 8 [22 favorites]


Gods...just when I thought I couldn’t possibly be more embarassed to be a white guy these days...
posted by Thorzdad at 6:57 PM on January 8 [9 favorites]


When your job
Is at will
And you're not
At all chill
That's Damore
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 7:01 PM on January 8 [83 favorites]


Error -35: size of tiny violin below Planck length
posted by mubba at 7:05 PM on January 8 [75 favorites]


Crikey, I got fired from at least one job for "personality conflict" and I am not even a biotruths-believing Nazi wannabe. I didn't sue.
posted by Samizdata at 7:05 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


When you are
A white male
Whose beliefs
Are all stale
That's Damore
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 7:05 PM on January 8 [33 favorites]


So is this a new thing for asshole alt-right dudes? Doxing by bogus lawsuit? Blackmail via discovery?


No, been standard in the anti-gay legal efforts for some time.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:12 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


In the complaint, who is 'SL'? I must have missed the introduction to them.
posted by Coventry at 7:19 PM on January 8


When you put
Out a memo
That screams I'm
Like Milo
That's ...demoralizing. damnit, I suck at this
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 7:24 PM on January 8 [20 favorites]


Basically pulling a Cernovich. Using the law as a means of revealing private information (addresses, real names, etc) about the opposition, then getting your army to attack.


Easily the dumbest lawsuit, but perhaps the largest Gamergate-style doxxing and harassment attempt, in history.
posted by Yowser at 7:25 PM on January 8 [25 favorites]


And diversity hiring would have weeded this asshole out before he cost Google tens of millions of dollars (which he will, by hook or by crook.)
posted by Yowser at 7:26 PM on January 8 [11 favorites]


IANAL, but I think political views are a protected class with respect to employment in California. I've no clue whether that applies here.

Clause 203 of the complaint says
Predominant Common Questions of Law and Fact: Common questions of law and fact affecting the rights of all Class and Subclass members predominate over individualized issues. These common questions include, but are not limited to...

d. whether Google’s systemic policy and/or practice of discriminating against employees due to their perceived conservative political views violates California Labor Code section 1101 and 1102
et seq.
1101-1106 contains
CHAPTER 5. Political Affiliations [1101 - 1106] ( Chapter 5 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 90. )

1101. No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy:
(a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office.
(b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.

1102. No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.

1103. An employer or any other person or entity that violates this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable, in the case of an individual, by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year or a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or both that fine and imprisonment, or, in the case of a corporation, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000).

1105. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the injured employee from recovering damages from his employer for injury suffered through a violation of this chapter.
So that's what they're basing this on (among other statutes.) I have no idea whether it amounts to a case. Looks like one on paper.
posted by Coventry at 7:40 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Sooooo....who's bankrolling this bullshit?

I have no idea whether it amounts to a case. Looks like one on paper.

I kinda doubt it. Creating a hostile work environment is not conservative political expression, it's just harassment. It could be that they make the case that the sharing of nazi-punching memes was also a hostile work environment, but nobody was stopping ol' Jimmy from exercising his right to be conservative off the clock.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:44 PM on January 8 [16 favorites]


Gods...just when I thought I couldn’t possibly be more embarassed to be a white guy these days...
You'll be ok, Thorzdad, as long as you act like a human first, white guy second.
posted by Thella at 7:44 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


We don't even know why he was fired.

Lying about anything on your resume is the express route to the exit door if you're found out, pretty much anywhere.

Even your chess rating.

No, really.
posted by Yowser at 7:44 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


google discriminates against employing damp root vegetables
posted by indubitable at 7:47 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


> indubitable:
"google discriminates against employing damp root vegetables"

YOU CAD! I AM A DAMP ROOT VEGETABLE! I REQUIRE AN ESQUIRE AT LAW WITH ALL DUE ALACRITY!
posted by Samizdata at 7:50 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


I am contemplating initiating a class action lawsuit against James Damore on behalf of everyone who has had their minds polluted by his brand of bullshit.
posted by invitapriore at 7:52 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


As someone on Twitter said, Damore's lawyer basically calling him a Nazi is a bold legal strategy.
posted by Yowser at 7:54 PM on January 8 [21 favorites]


Coventry, from my reading, that law does guarantee the right to make political statements at work, nor does it protect political speech made at work. But Damore's complaint seems to be specifically about termination for views expressed at work.

Like, even if we grant Damore's belief that Google was endorsing certain political views by enshrining them in policy, it's not clear to me how that would violate any provision of that law.

Am I missing anything?
posted by andrewpcone at 7:55 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]



Gods...just when I thought I couldn’t possibly be more embarassed to be a white guy these days...

It looks like a picked a good time to be trans.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 7:55 PM on January 8 [15 favorites]


Sooooo....who's bankrolling this bullshit?

He's apparently met with Peter Thiel at least twice.
posted by mhoye at 8:09 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


In other amusing Gamergate washup news: Milo appears to be representing himself in his lawsuit against Simon and Schuster. Something something fool for a client
posted by Existential Dread at 8:13 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


So that's what they're basing this on (among other statutes.) I have no idea whether it amounts to a case. Looks like one on paper.

I dunno. I’m pretty sure those statutes relate to an employee’s activity outside the workplace. This idiot sent an internal email expressing hateful ideas. I’d think Google was entirely in their rights to kick the bum out.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:17 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


I’m pretty sure those statutes relate to an employee’s activity outside the workplace.

Well I think to be fair the section by itself is ambiguous. 1101 can be debated; from the wording it looks like by "politics" it means government/party political activity—but a legal analysis would have to justify whether that's reasonable versus whether a more general interpretation of the meaning of politics could also apply. I don't know about CA in particular but there's no reason to suppose that in Western law there are considerations made for activist contexts (e.g. union organizing) in relation to politics, and so forth.

And thus 1102 is a bigger problem: their claim could be that Google fired and/or threatened to fire these workers because they wouldn't comply i.e. "adopt or follow, or refrain from thereof" with the corporation's implicit politics. Thus one way this is an issue is that it hinges on whether you accept a postmodern, or social theory reading of the term politics and the political, versus a narrower meaning of "party/media politics". And again opens the avenue for legal debate.
posted by polymodus at 8:30 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


it's not clear to me how that would violate any provision of that law.

Am I missing anything?


Well, according to Damore’s complaint - and I stress I do not trust this guy further than I can throw him, and my upper body strength is shit - he sent the memo in request to a specific request from Google to give his thoughts about the anti-bias training, and then Google called him on the carpet after it got leaked and asked him to change his memo, and then when he didn’t, they fired him.

If that in fact is what happened, it probably would fall under that protected class in California. However, I’m sure Google has a competing story, and I’m sure it has better lawyers and can spend more time in court fighting it, so I doubt this will go anywhere.

In addition, Damore delenda est.
posted by corb at 8:38 PM on January 8 [9 favorites]


Huh, interesting. All the reporting at the time of his firing indicated that he had shared it widely on the company's chat service or Slack channel, from what I recall.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:43 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


How is "Chicks can't be good engineers because I dunno they can't reach the computer over their giant throbbing uteruseses or something" a political view?

When it's not 'cause you're white,
But 'cause you're full of shite,
That's Damore...
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:52 PM on January 8 [37 favorites]


How is "Chicks can't be good engineers because I dunno they can't reach the computer over their giant throbbing uteruseses or something" a political view?

It depends on your definition of "politics." His argument was something like, "underrepresentation of women in engineering roles may not reflect discrimination, so policies that assume it is are wrongheaded." Essential, biological difference was one of the things he proposed as an alternative explanation, but wasn't the central thrust of his memo, which was more a complaint about how Google talked about the issue and addressed it with policies. Questions like "how can we become a more inclusive workplace," are reasonably called "political," I think.

So I don't think it's a stretch to say that Damore was fired for political speech, but I do think its a stretch to argue that the law protects political speech made at work when it creates a hostile environment for other workers. It seems like the intent of the law was to protect employees from bosses politicizing work, not to protect political expression by employees at work, no matter how offensive or contrary to other legal requirements.

When crap you write on the web
Are the right's cause celebre
That's Damore
posted by andrewpcone at 9:00 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Coventry, from my reading, that law does guarantee the right to make political statements at work, nor does it protect political speech made at work. But Damore's complaint seems to be specifically about termination for views expressed at work.

Like, even if we grant Damore's belief that Google was endorsing certain political views by enshrining them in policy, it's not clear to me how that would violate any provision of that law.

Am I missing anything?


I am a manager in California though in no way a lawyer. If a colleague asked me for advice, I would say you absolutely should not fire without a real lawyer's opinion.

Clearly the law emphasizes political affiliation, but I'd assume is that if an employer does let people share political views on site, they can't discriminate on the basis of those views. (I knew someone in the '80s who, after talking to a lawyer, wanted to ban all bumper stickers on cars in the company lot, so he wouldn't have to deal with an argue about whether a Confederate flag was only racist or also political.)

Google can say they fired him for disrespecting management or creating a hostile work environment, but in my training "pretext" was a big thing. If he can show most people who do similar things get off with an apology and afternoon of diversity training (oh, the irony) he might be able to reasonably argue the real reason was because his statement went viral and became popular on the Neanderthal right, embarrassing Google.

I hope he goes down, and Iord knows companies get away with far more blatant shit like socialists fired for just being socialists on their own time in other states, opening mandatory meetings with prayers, etc. But I don't think the law is 100% obvious. I do think Google has lawyers and consulted with them.
posted by mark k at 9:02 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


Is "troll" a protected class now?
posted by Slinga at 9:05 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


In addition, Damore delenda est.

I think Damore defenestra erit may also work.
posted by susiswimmer at 9:15 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


I didn't realize he was a biometrician by training. That's probably the most diverse field I've ever even seen, it's really, really diverse- basically you have the chops or you don't. People hire worldwide. Fascinating that he'd come from that background and have these views, although not too surprising he didn't make it in biometrics.
posted by fshgrl at 9:21 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


There's no redaction for people's real names in this lawsuit where their identification serves no other purpose but to open them for doxxing by arseholes. This seems like Vexatious litigation.
posted by meehawl at 9:22 PM on January 8 [17 favorites]


The lawsuit is a whole bunch of, "if we say women are bad at something, that's discrimination, but if you say there are too many white men here, it's not."

If it gets past the first few waves of legal exchanges and actually enters a courtroom, Google may be stuck trying to point out why "equal" policies are not equal, and why saying "no gay bashing, no victim blaming, no catcalls at women, no calling non-Christians by insulting nicknames" is reasonable, but "no nazi supporters" is not discrimination. In short: they very much need the tolerance is not a moral virtue argument.

(And the semi-doxxing involved in leaving names unredacted in the screencaps is annoying, but OTOH one on the good side is an old friend I'd lost track of and hey, now I know where they work.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:40 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


There's no redaction for people's real names in this lawsuit where their identification serves no other purpose but to open them for doxxing by arseholes. This seems like Vexatious litigation.

Yes. This doc leaks the full names of people inside Google who spoke out against Damore. It's basically harassment wrapped in a frivolous lawsuit.
posted by GuyZero at 9:44 PM on January 8 [43 favorites]


It means some people feel there is enough bang for the buck in this, that they're funding Damore's frivolous lawsuit against Google's army of lawyers.

I hope some investigative journalist would follow the money.
posted by runcifex at 10:09 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


oh lol it's that guy who looks like a sad foot
posted by poffin boffin at 10:27 PM on January 8 [22 favorites]


Considering that Chuck Floor Shitter Johnson just sued Twitter for banning him from their service, I think something's afoot in the "hate democracy" demographic.
posted by Yowser at 10:37 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


I am annoyed by the punitive drive-by-doxxing in this lawsuit.

It smells like pure spitefulness designed to harm others in passing than a claim with actual merit.

When your name
Is just used
When your
financier sues
What an asshole!
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 10:57 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Are there grounds for someone named in the documents submitted to sue Damore "if" (/when) they get harassed because of it? Even if there aren't grounds, would it do any good for them to do so?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:57 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


This has aged well.
1/4) I’ve changed my username from @Fired4Truth to @JamesADamore.

2/4) My document is accurate and I was fired for seeking the truth. However, @Fired4Truth gave the impression that I was playing the victim.

3/4) Playing the victim is antithetical to what I stand for because it eliminates personal agency and discourages self improvement.

4/4) Victimhood culture is the enemy of reason and progress; encouraging it only empowers regressive extremists.
12:23 PM - 14 Sep 2017
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:02 PM on January 8 [15 favorites]


this guy sure went all in real quick

do you think it's a result of the right wing coming cozying up to him and whispering in his ear or do you think he was planning the whole thing from the beginning?
posted by atoxyl at 11:06 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


I think it was guaranteed from the time he was fired, whether it was planned or not. There's no change in attitude involved. He was obviously right-wing, he likes holding forth on this subject, the wingnut welfare circuit is easier than working for a living, and he's not going to get the technical job he thinks he deserves in between his theatrics and the apparently fake resume.
posted by mark k at 11:27 PM on January 8 [15 favorites]


Movements produce their leaders. He was going to be found by those who agree with him, and by virtue of his salary puts him in a better position to lollygag around doing stuff like suing Google. He's not doing it for them, but he also kinda winds up doing that yeah.
posted by rhizome at 11:34 PM on January 8


I kinda phrased that in a way that makes it sound like I think the question is a lot more open than I actually think it is. I'm not really wondering whether his "little old me?" attitude about the whole thing is bunk - of course it is. Why would he be sending his little essay around at work in the first place except to take a potshot at diversity efforts? But I do wonder whether he was planning to make a go at the right-wing grift circuit (Jordan Peterson style) versus, I dunno, thinking his original actions were going to somehow strike a blow for the white man inside Google in and of themselves.
posted by atoxyl at 1:45 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


I just woke up. Stop fucking with my head.

Need coffee.
posted by Splunge at 5:11 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


I do wonder whether he was planning to make a go at the right-wing grift circuit (Jordan Peterson style) versus, I dunno, thinking his original actions were going to somehow strike a blow for the white man inside Google in and of themselves.

A man making an extra 100,000 in stock options a year on top of his salary and bonuses has no need to aim for the right wing grift circuit. I think he thought this would never be released outside Google, and it wouldn’t actually hurt him.

On a side note, what the fuck, Google, how have you not learned the thing every other company has, that you don’t give your employees a political platform at work for this very fucking reason, because there will always be an asshole?
posted by corb at 5:50 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]


I'd forgotten about this interview he gave to the Guardian when i made my post, but it gives a bit more insight into his personality.
posted by torisaur at 5:55 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


thanks for sharing that profile, torisaur.

It wasn’t until his mid-20s, after completing research in computational biology at Princeton and MIT, and starting a PhD at Harvard, that Damore was diagnosed with autism, although he was told he had a milder version of the condition known as “high-functioning autism” [...] Damore argues that Google’s focus on avoiding “micro-aggressions” is “much harder for someone with autism to follow”. But he stops short of saying autistic employees should be given more leniency if they unintentionally offend people at work. “I wouldn’t necessarily treat someone differently,” he explains. “But it definitely helps to understand where they’re coming from.”

it seems like and it continues to sound like Damore's being used by right-wing institutions to promote their misogyny - in that way, it's really easy to castigate him as an individual and not someone swept up in something much, much, much bigger than himself. it seemed like he had mostly rejected the exaltation of him by those institutions though this most recent turn of events means that they haven't stopped catering to him so they can use his infamy as a ticket to national attention

the part where they reveal his girlfriend is a feminist data scientist who hated most of the memo was compelling. I can't imagine what all of this is like for either of them right now - and how shitty it must be to watch the vulnerabilities of someone you love exploited on the national stage
posted by runt at 6:48 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


When it lurks on a reef
And has two rows of teeth
That's A Moray
posted by chmmr at 6:52 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


and how shitty it must be to watch the vulnerabilities of someone you love exploited on the national stage

I'm sorry, but autism is not an excuse for being an asshole. Let's not pretend that a person who dropped a 10 page screed on the biological inferiority of women is somehow a victim in all this.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:19 AM on January 9 [55 favorites]


Just a reminder: There are women and people of color with autism working at Google right now who were attacked by this memo.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:29 AM on January 9 [64 favorites]


From the profile torisaur linked:
What do psychologists make of the memo? Richard Lippa of California State University, whose work the engineer cited, tells me it contained a “reasonably accurate” summary of the research on psychological differences between men and women. “I think there are ways of arguing against James Damore, from political viewpoints, for ideological reasons, and you can criticise the science, too,” he says. “But the immediate response – ‘This is fake science’ – I don’t think that is doing any of us justice.”
Worth noting that Lippa wrote some of the seminal papers on which Damore's argument is based. They are not convincing to me at all.
posted by Coventry at 7:52 AM on January 9


I'm sorry, but autism is not an excuse for being an asshole

no, but it's sufficient enough to take a softer approach than you would when you're engaging with a neurotypical person. I don't think it merits relentless merrymaking at his expense

people of color with autism working at Google right now who were attacked by this memo

true, and I absolutely am in support of Google firing him and implementing more and better training. but in the same way I would say it's wrong to focus on Abigail Fisher when Edward Blum is out there, I'd argue that it's perhaps more tasteful to save the mockery for Damore’s attorney, "Harmeet Dhillon, a California representative for the Republican National Committee"
posted by runt at 7:57 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I expect there will soon be several lawsuits about "how dare they throw me out for being a racist sexist asshole; nothing in the contract says that's not allowed." And internet platforms and employers both are going to need to push back with, "bigotry is not a protected category. You're not being thrown out because you're white, male, and conservative; you're being thrown out for claiming those are the best things to be, and therefore making the place hostile for anyone who's not."

To make that argument hold up in court, they're going to need lawyers that actually understand tone policing and can fight through the claim of "If I never used swear words and never raised my voice, I wasn't being offensive."

They're also going to need testimony from white males who can say, "I'm here, and I'm not feeling oppressed at all."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:09 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Damore argues that Google’s focus on avoiding “micro-aggressions” is “much harder for someone with autism to follow”.

O FUCKING BULLSHIT.

People on the spectrum may have a harder time figuring out exactly where the boundaries of politeness are, and they may borrow habits and not realize they're offensive. But everyone I've ever met on the spectrum - including white males with good incomes - has been able to understand, "please don't say/do that; it hurts people," and they were EAGER TO COMPLY because the problem autism causes is that they often don't know what bothers other people.

People with autism: Accidentally step on people's toes, and may not know how to stop without very direct instructions, which may not apply in other situations.

Assholes: Step on other people's toes because they don't care if other people get hurt.

These are not mutually exclusive categories, but when they overlap, the problem is not autism.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:20 AM on January 9 [50 favorites]


I don't think it merits relentless merrymaking at his expense

What about occasional merrymaking at his expense?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:23 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


but in the same way I would say it's wrong to focus on Abigail Fisher when Edward Blum is out there, I'd argue that it's perhaps more tasteful to save the mockery for Damore’s attorney, "Harmeet Dhillon, a California representative for the Republican National Committee"

Except that unlike Fisher, who was clearly selected to be a "perfect plaintiff" by right wing interests, all the signs point to Damore coming to and expressing his beliefs organically. Also, I'd point out that Fisher, being an adult through most of her case, does in fact share a sizable amount of the blame as well - she could have acknowledged what she was doing was wrong and walked away, but chose not to.

And again, autism is not an excuse for being an asshole. Dhillon didn't make Damore write that screed, and he should be held accountable for his doing so.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:26 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


I suppose I care less about defending Damore as a non-asshole and more about people being assholes to him, if that makes sense. dying on a hill for a misogynist is not something i'm willing to do though so i'll go ahead and pop out
posted by runt at 8:33 AM on January 9


I suppose I care less about defending Damore as a non-asshole and more about people being assholes to him, if that makes sense.

The problem is that you're turning autism into a shield for his being an asshole - you said that he should be treated more gently and argued that he wasn't fully responsible for his conduct. This does a major disservice to the many autistic people who are genuinely well meaning and, as was pointed out earlier, do look to avoid harming people and seek to make amends when they do so accidentally.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:49 AM on January 9 [25 favorites]


I am also seriously done with the not so veiled implication that *only* white men have or contend with autism. As was pointed out above, there are employees at Google right now who are women and POC with autism. Yet somehow we never discuss how difficult it might be to be autistic *and* forced to contend with being constantly undermined and devalued (often in subtle and socially complex!) ways by shitty white men. Somehow, mysteriously, the needs of autistic white men always get discussed and prioritized over the needs of other autistic people.
posted by faineg at 9:05 AM on January 9 [35 favorites]


Writing a 10 page manifesto about how diversity programs are flawed because women are biologically inferior is not an example of having difficultly understanding micro-agressions; it's a flat-out act of aggression.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:09 AM on January 9 [43 favorites]


Does autism make one lie on one’s resume, too? Doubt it.

If he’s high-functioning enough to know what he’s writing and the impact of releasing it on a company-wide platform, he’s high-functioning enough to receive the consequences for it.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:10 AM on January 9 [20 favorites]


you argued that he wasn't fully responsible for his conduct

I didn't but you're fine to interpret whatever you want. my point was that the Guardian profile seemed to indicate that he was re-examining his actions and realizing that a lot of what he did was not great and this lawsuit signifies a change in that course. I think there's a good chance that Dhillon was the catalyst behind that since the article also stated that the girlfriend was intent on making sure he wasn't talking to any more conservative media establishments. I am pretty sure that I clearly stated that I agreed with his firing and Google's re-committing to more diversity training so that no further harm comes to the people in their employ

This does a major disservice to the many autistic people

arguing for a somewhat higher bar of sympathy than relentless mockery and uncritical lambasting for people who are not neurotypical is uh... I think the opposite of that but ymmv, I guess. comments like "He's looking for a book deal and a spot on the wingnut welfare circuit" and the composing of a mocking ditty seemed to fit a pattern of unchecked, angry criticism people seemed to have when they engaged with friends of mine who are neurodivergent so I popped in to say 'well what if it's a more difficult situation than him being an Ann Coulter wannabe' but as that has raised ire, I will see myself out
posted by runt at 9:33 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


the point is that arguing for sympathy for this man is done at the expense of those whose suffering is exponentially greater.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:54 AM on January 9 [19 favorites]


> Yowser:
"As someone on Twitter said, Damore's lawyer basically calling him a Nazi is a bold legal strategy."

I sure hope someone punches holes in it!
posted by chavenet at 9:56 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


My problem is that while he makes the point that women are underrepresented in tech ( which is good ), he goes about it the wrong way ( bad ) instead of calling out the misogynistic sexual misconduct and harassment that his beliefs ( bad ) perpetuate.

I'd like to see Susan Fowler and him debate this in a point/counterpoint format.
posted by mikelieman at 10:00 AM on January 9


I'd like to see Susan Fowler and him debate this in a point/counterpoint format.
Gross. No. Do not put women in a situation where we have to argue for our dignity or humanity. Do not do that even to really smart women who could more than hold their own.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:05 AM on January 9 [46 favorites]


Oh, it's not arguing for dignity or humanity. It's disassembling his bullshit with reality as experienced by real people, and not his strawman. It's time to stop treating Republicans who support, among other things, molesting children as rational actors and do nothing but publicly humiliate them.
posted by mikelieman at 10:08 AM on January 9


No, setting up debates (what are you even talking about?) to argue whether women are too stupid to be in the tech industry in any real numbers is indeed asking people to argue for their humanity and dignity.
posted by agregoli at 10:13 AM on January 9 [30 favorites]


Oh, it's not arguing for dignity or humanity. It's disassembling his bullshit with reality as experienced by real people, and not his strawman. It's time to stop treating Republicans who support, among other things, molesting children as rational actors and do nothing but publicly humiliate them.

When you say "let's put this up for debate", you are legitimizing the other side. Period.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:14 AM on January 9 [35 favorites]


my point was that the Guardian profile seemed to indicate that he was re-examining his actions and realizing that a lot of what he did was not great and this lawsuit signifies a change in that course.

No, changing course would be him realizing that he's been an asshole and seeking to make amends for his assholery. This is nothing more than a change of tactics, seen by how his filing doxxed a number of Google employees who are now being harassed because of this.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:19 AM on January 9 [15 favorites]


*silently thanks the universe that the second plaintiff's name is only a homophone for my real name, and not an actual match*
posted by Happy Dave at 10:22 AM on January 9


People aren’t saying these things about him because he’s not neurotypical. They’re saying it because he’s a self-proclaimed misogynist and bigot who wrote and distributed a manifesto about how women and minorities are inferior and don’t deserve to work at Google.

It’s pretty disgusting to see the lengths to which people are going to try to make him the victim in this. He’s the perpetrator.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:25 AM on January 9 [28 favorites]


And you’ll note that he isn’t suing because he thinks Google discriminated against him for being autistic. He’s suing because he thinks Google discriminated against him for being conservative, white and male.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:28 AM on January 9 [35 favorites]


I'd like to see Susan Fowler and him debate this in a point/counterpoint format.

I'm pretty sure his first strategy would be to ask her to whiteboard a red/black tree.
posted by Coventry at 10:56 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Besides, we already had one Mefite rebut his manifesto point by point, as linked in the previous thread.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:15 AM on January 9 [16 favorites]


Besides, we already had one Mefite rebut his manifesto point by point, as linked in the previous thread.

It's literally the first Previously link, even.
posted by XtinaS at 11:17 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


octobersurprise: "What about occasional merrymaking at his expense?"

These threads only stay open 30 days, so it's self-limiting!
posted by Chrysostom at 11:56 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


When you say "let's put this up for debate", you are legitimizing the other side. Period.

I don't understand this line of thinking. When retrograde ideas are presented (and taken as gospel by a fair contingent of the population), it is paramount that they be exposed and defeated.

Eugenics programs have been around since time immemorial. And there's no lack of rich, radical psychopaths in the world today.

CRISPR has tremendously accelerated research in the field of genetics, and the choices we make for future generations is going to be one of the most hotly-contested issues we have to deal with in the 21st century. It is absolutely vital we tune in.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 12:00 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this line of thinking. When retrograde ideas are presented (and taken as gospel by a fair contingent of the population), it is paramount that they be exposed and defeated.

It's shifting the burden of disputing the bullshit onto the people who are already harmed by said bullshit. Something something order of magnitude something emotional labor something.
posted by fedward at 12:03 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


They’ve been exposed and defeated already. What will debating them again accomplish, except suggest that the issue hasn’t been decided, which itself suggests that maybe there’s merit to the argument that women and minorities don’t belong in tech?

We don’t have to give a platform to every piece of shit with an opinion. He’s had more of a platform than he could possibly have ever deserved. All this dude is doing is trying to stir the pot.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:05 PM on January 9 [24 favorites]


I don't understand this line of thinking. When retrograde ideas are presented (and taken as gospel by a fair contingent of the population), it is paramount that they be exposed and defeated.

Because exposing an idea is not the same as debating it, and that is because the word "debate" does have a specific meaning. And one of the core elements of that meaning is that there is a legitimate difference of opinion between the two sides on the matter being debated.

Which is why when you say that the question of "are women biologically predisposed to not being good at programming" should be debated, you are also saying that the yes response is a legitimate position, because otherwise there is no debate.

Words have meaning. Don't just use them because they sound "right" for the occasion - understand what you are saying - and implying by doing so.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:14 PM on January 9 [27 favorites]


Oh, it's not arguing for dignity or humanity. It's disassembling his bullshit with reality as experienced by real people, and not his strawman. It's time to stop treating Republicans who support, among other things, molesting children as rational actors and do nothing but publicly humiliate them.

i don't know if you're new to the internet, but this has been tried multiple times with different people and it has yet to have any effect?

gamergate is still around, even with numerous debates (i will not link to these because if you do a google search the gamergaters have poisoned the results, but, for instance, kluwe vs carrera); the manosphere is still around, even after numerous debates. they've metamorphosed into the alt-right, which is growing in strength.

so, like. even after they're embarrassed and humiliated, it has no effect, much like trying to explain to conservatives that climate change is real, or to men that sexism is real, or to white people that racism exists, or to trump supporters that he's an idiot. they'll still believe what they want to believe.
posted by anem0ne at 12:24 PM on January 9 [13 favorites]


They’ve been exposed and defeated already. What will debating them again accomplish, except suggest that the issue hasn’t been decided, which itself suggests that maybe there’s merit to the argument that women and minorities don’t belong in tech?

teaching the controversy and having the debates have essentially allowed creationism to flourish

so, yeah.

let's have more debates, because that really worked well the last several times. i think some famous scientist mentioned something about the definition of insanity
posted by anem0ne at 12:26 PM on January 9 [16 favorites]


I think it's worth rebutting such things, but not worth debating them. If you dig into the biological determinism aspect of Damore's argument, there is not much to rebut.
posted by Coventry at 12:26 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Treating an absurd argument as though it inherently has validity and deserves consideration is, itself, problematic behavior. We don’t have to give respect and “air time” to points of view that are toxic, damaging, and known to be bullshit. The only reason anyone even thinks that’s a reasonable expectation is because we’ve been saturated with the effects of the Fairness Doctrine since the ‘80s, but really, it’s not a reasonable expectation.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:34 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


> I think it's worth rebutting such things, but not worth debating them. If you dig into the biological determinism aspect of Damore's argument, there is not much to rebut.

How many times and how many people need to do it before you (specifically you as well as in-general you) will consider it rebutted? Because it has been thoroughly dismantled, repeatedly. Once even by a mefite, with cites and everything.
posted by rtha at 12:42 PM on January 9 [22 favorites]


For a guy so wedded to biological essentialism, it's interesting (or "interesting") that Damore never considers that conservatives are biologically unsuited to cutting-edge tech work. I mean, there is a decent amount of research into the subject of personality traits and their correlations with liberal/conservative outlook. And, if memory serves, he even mentions that conservatives have a higher degree of "conscientiousness" (which, I actually haven't heard but whatevs). He does not mention that in addition to higher levels of tribalism and stronger disgust reactions, conservatives are also significantly less open to new ideas and experiences.
posted by mhum at 12:46 PM on January 9 [11 favorites]


How many times and how many people need to do it

I consider conversations like this worthwhile, whenever I come across someone who's not aware of the flaws in the argument. Those are my values, though. Not saying anyone else should do it.
posted by Coventry at 12:57 PM on January 9


We should not allow debate of topics like "Are women biologically unfit for tech jobs?" However, since Damore and is ilk have a lot of public support, we do need to make takedowns of those arguments, primarily aimed at teenagers and college students, who are at the point of trying to figure out which of their parents' ideas are a solid foundation for life, and which are biases from their specific community.

However, the need to break down his arguments and show their flaws doesn't mean opening it up for "debate." There is no debate here. There's a need to say, "some people are deeply offended to discover they didn't earn their all of degree and job and comfy lifestyle--that some of it was handed to them--and rather than accept that, they insist that the people who didn't get handed the same advantages, must not be worthy of them."

And then you haul out the science and the historical statistics and the compelling anecdotes. Again, yes, because every few years, there's a new crop of college students who're just starting to figure out how sheltered they've been, a new crop of business execs who've just started putting together working teams, a new crop of (sigh) politicians who are just discovering an area of interest beyond whatever got them into politics. And the explanations need to be updated with current info and phrasing.

It doesn't need to be, "let's discuss this concept," but rather, "let's go over, again, what BS cis-white-men are saying to bamboozle you into believing they should be paid 85% more than Latina women."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:02 PM on January 9 [18 favorites]


Oh for heavens' sake - as an autistic person, I seriously can't with the "take a softer approach" suggestions. If I ever started going around acting like a grade-A douchewaffle, I would WANT people to call me out on it, and if something I was doing or saying was causing harm, I would stop doing it. Damore and his ilk make me want to puke.
posted by aecorwin at 2:56 PM on January 9 [19 favorites]


When the memo first came out it was pretty clear that Damore was incredibly blind to his own biases. After finding out about the autism diagnosis In the Guardian interview linked above, it made a lot more sense to me why he might be ignorant of the consequences and repercussions of his "but…but…the facts!" line of arguement. But man, this excerpt [emphasis mine]:

There was an immediate outcry amid headlines such as “Fired Google Memo Guy Also Has Bad Opinions About KKK”. Damore deleted the tweet and acknowledges he badly misjudged how it would be viewed but has not stopped tweeting about controversial issues such as race relations and cultural appropriation. Wary of making another mistake, he now keeps a document of draft tweets that he refines before posting. His girlfriend implores him to show her these drafts, but he does not like to be told what to do and values using his 91,000 followers as a sounding board: “I try to leverage my Twitter following to hear other perspectives and correct me when I’m wrong.”

...is uhhh, pretty revealing w/r/t his desire to actually stop being a difficult asshole.
posted by smokysunday at 3:14 PM on January 9 [12 favorites]


I started reading his Twitter feed, and had to stop at 'Personality wise, the left is the most “feminine” and libertarians the most “masculine,” which may be why each is predisposed to see those traits as undervalued in society.'

Also he claims his memo was pro-diversity.
posted by LindsayIrene at 3:29 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Speaking as an autistic person, it would be really nice if people would stop using "he's autistic" as an excuse for his behavior. As others have said above, while #actuallyautistic people may not "get" social interactions instinctively, in general we're trying our hardest to fit in appropriately and if we misstep we tend to apologize and try to figure out how not to do it again.

In fact, I've been told more than once that the common autistic trait of commitment to fairness and equity is a pain in the neck, and could I please shut up about trying to make sure everybody is heard and respected…

The problems with his attitudes and opinions aren't due to him being autistic, they're due to him not considering the people around him fully competent humans because he thinks their gender or race means they're inherently inferior.
posted by Lexica at 3:49 PM on January 9 [40 favorites]


Maybe somebody could explain to these guys that discrimination in not illegal. Only discrimination for membership in a protected group and, as mentioned above, "asshole" is not a protected group.
posted by charlesminus at 6:14 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


From the lawsuit, pg 33:
Cowan stated: “If you express a dunderheaded opinion about religion, about politics, or about ‘social justice’, it turns out I am allowed to think you’re a halfwit… I’m perfectly within my rights to mentally categorize you in my dickhead box… Yes, I maintain (mentally, and not (yet) publicly) [a blacklist]. If I had to work with people on this list, I would refuse, and try to get them removed; or I would change teams; or I would quit.”

136. The primary purpose of these blacklists and suggested blacklists was to encourage and coordinate the sabotage of promotions, performance reviews, and employment opportunities for those with conservative viewpoints.
So, Damore is claiming that "conservative viewpoints" is synonymous with "dunderhead opinion about religion, politics or social justice," such that someone would categorize him as a "dickhead."

Dude. Duuuuuude. No. You don't get to say, "everyone thinks I'm a dickhead, but what they really mean is 'conservative,' because everyone knows that dickhead=conservative." This is not the way dog whistles work.

I haven't finished reading it in detail, but I'm looking forward to finding something that basically says, "conservative means believing that men should have jobs and women shouldn't, and you can't discriminate against me based on my political beliefs." It's like the "I'm not anti-gay; I'm religious" argument, only without the religion.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 6:31 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


Eh....from a labor rights perspective, it honestly is kind of important that people who everyone doesn’t like socially still be able to do their job, and if the quality of their work is good, they not be fired for it. The way that workplaces work now on “fit” really winds up screwing over a lot of qualified people who just don’t happen to fit into Silicon Valley culture - older people, people with kids, etc. Google is pretty fucked in that regard.

At the same time, this guy is a fucking asshole and I hate that this case exists, because the precedent it creates will probably going to wind up screwing over some guy who has a red card or who belongs to the DSA or whatever the bosses dislike.
posted by corb at 10:17 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Eh....from a labor rights perspective, it honestly is kind of important that people who everyone doesn’t like socially still be able to do their job, and if the quality of their work is good, they not be fired for it.

There's a vast difference between "doesn't like socially" and "actively makes the workplace hostile for protected groups".
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:25 PM on January 9 [22 favorites]


An implicit part of his argument is that racist and sexist == conservative. Protected characteristics must be higher stature than political affiliation, otherwise I could found the Roy Moore KKK Party and claim illegal discrimination is our party plank and thus now legal.
posted by benzenedream at 10:28 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


A man making an extra 100,000 in stock options a year on top of his salary and bonuses has no need to aim for the right wing grift circuit. I think he thought this would never be released outside Google, and it wouldn’t actually hurt him.

No, he thought it would make him influential and gain him followers, mostly young men, which would make him more powerful. And then he'd get money and women to sleep with and people would line up to hear his smart thoughts.

Like so many would be populist leaders before him he badly mis-judged his audience and the reaction of the powers that be and the influencers in his life. A few hundred years ago they'd just have taken him outside the gates and cut his head off.
posted by fshgrl at 12:05 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Tracking where he goes after this will be a good indicator for which tech firms have been thoroughly infiltrated by the white polo shirt crowd.
posted by benzenedream at 12:39 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Eh....from a labor rights perspective, it honestly is kind of important that people who everyone doesn’t like socially still be able to do their job, and if the quality of their work is good, they not be fired for it. The way that workplaces work now on “fit” really winds up screwing over a lot of qualified people who just don’t happen to fit into Silicon Valley culture - older people, people with kids, etc. Google is pretty fucked in that regard.

The guy deliberately antagonized an entire company by circulating an "essay" that cited The Bell Curve as proof of differences in racial intelligence, and now he's claiming that his "autism" prevented him from understanding how people might respond. He's a con artist, period. He was beneath sympathy even before he started dragging the autism spectrum community into this (and probably harming their public perception in process).

His entire case rests on the notion that there's no way he could have expressed his opinions without being punished, but there's a near-infinite number of ways he could have presented his views without acting like a malignant troll. If he was *genuinely* passionate about a conviction along the lines of "we should be supporting individual who are already showing engineering talent, instead of wasting money trying to nurture engineering talent in groups/places where it isn't naturally evident," there are plenty of tactful ways he could have presented his argument. But, it's obvious that isn't what he cared about. He wanted to be a troll and a martyr to MRA/alt-right/etc types far more than he wanted to advance any kind of legitimate agenda. Which is bad enough on its own, but now he's claiming he didn't know what he was doing because he has a disability. And in the process, he's sending a message saying "people in the autism spectrum can't know when they're being racist or misogynistic!"

It's completely infuriating and sickening, and I say that as someone who might normally have sympathy for the guy's cause. I've always been bothered by the fact that the left has a tendency to deny the significance of biology/heredity, and who feels that their wholesale denial of any kind of genetic determinism has helped create the alt-right movement. But, Damore isn't helping anyone but himself, or conveying an argument for anything besides the right to self-importance and self-interest.
posted by prosopagnosia at 2:50 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


A man making an extra 100,000 in stock options a year on top of his salary and bonuses has no need to aim for the right wing grift circuit

Um. 100k is middle of the top in terms of SV bonuses. I would expect him to pull that in from single speaking engagements if he becomes a cause célèbre.
posted by PMdixon at 5:36 AM on January 10


This guy doesn't strike me as a con artist, in the sense that he saw the opportunities the right wing offers and set out to grab them. I think this started with some form of the "everything I touch turns to gold" delusion that's fairly common with people who are very very good, and richly rewarded, for a specialized skill. Not saying this is everyone with a specialized skill; it's probably just a very few. But the ones that do it, do stuff pretty much like this.

I'm never quite sure why these people don't reflect on how much work it took them to be able to do they do they do and think, "Well, common sense suggests it would also take work to get that good at something else." But my guess is Damore really did think he could sit on a plane and barf out a manifesto that would stun everyone and change the way they did things. I also guess, from the article linked above, that his girlfriend claims to be challenging him, but is really enabling him. He's very crafty, for sure, but I don't think this started as a con.
posted by BibiRose at 8:04 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


I've always been bothered by the fact that the left has a tendency to deny the significance of biology/heredity, and who feels that their wholesale denial of any kind of genetic determinism has helped create the alt-right movement

You show me how the genes and proteins that regulate melanin production, or eyelid folds, also contribute to, say, the development of the connectome, and we can talk.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:39 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


It's completely infuriating and sickening, and I say that as someone who might normally have sympathy for the guy's cause. I've always been bothered by the fact that the left has a tendency to deny the significance of biology/heredity, and who feels that their wholesale denial of any kind of genetic determinism has helped create the alt-right movement.

The alt-right and Damore are advocating white male supremacy. Biology and heredity do not play a part in deciding whether white men (or anyone else) are or aren’t better as a whole at technological work. Scientifically we already know they aren’t, which is why the left “denies the significance of genetic determinism”, because it’s bullshit. If you’re sympathetic to the idea that someone’s genes and heredity determine their potential, then you really need to sit down and look at yourself.

If he was *genuinely* passionate about a conviction along the lines of “we should be supporting individual who are already showing engineering talent, instead of wasting money trying to nurture engineering talent in groups/places where it isn't naturally evident”

Which is just another way of saying, “We should be reinforcing our existing biases, not examining them and making sure everyone has the same opportunities to learn and advance”. Because we already know that, culturally and institutionally, existing biases give unmerited opportunities to underachieving white men, while systematically denying opportunities to women and minorities who have demonstrated talent and achievement.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:07 AM on January 10 [14 favorites]


Man. Life as his girlfriend seems sort of hellish. I can't imagine staying long-term with a guy who seeks attention in ways that mean I can't be publicly linked to him for my own safety.
posted by palomar at 10:27 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Possibly Relevant: Conservatives Are Now Getting Angry About Google's Fact-Checking Module

BibiRose: But my guess is Damore really did think he could sit on a plane and barf out a manifesto that would stun everyone and change the way they did things.

This was my thought too. I don't think he's as devious as people seem to be thinking, just an arrogant, tone-deaf jerk with views from 1952. I wouldn't be surprised if he was approached/encouraged by some powerful right-wingers to pursue this lawsuit. Particularly since they are now using this to claim they're being silenced.
posted by torisaur at 10:33 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I don't think he's as devious as people seem to be thinking

"People who attract a lot of attention for spouting reactionary ideas in 21st century USA pretty reliably get a book deal" is not exactly 13th dimensional chess.
posted by PMdixon at 10:46 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


Life as his girlfriend seems sort of hellish

I mean how much do you have to hate yourself to date someone who thinks you are less human than they are. Not just thinks it but openly, loudly, proudly, says so, and expects praise for doing so.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:53 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]


Well, she was probably exhorted by all of society that she shouldn’t hold his faults against him and that he’s probably a really nice guy and he deserves a chance and who does she think she is to have standards. She should be flattered he was even interested in her.

/s
posted by Autumnheart at 11:22 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


If you’re sympathetic to the idea that someone’s genes and heredity determine their potential, then you really need to sit down and look at yourself.

It's not that I'm "sympathetic" to them in the sense that I believe social darwinism or eugenics can be validated, but I feel like overzealous efforts to denounce any science that doesn't support a tabula rasa view of human cognition/behavior have given credence to all the new con artists pimping "human biodiversity" and "racial realism." It's the exact same reasoning behind why I'm a Jewish person who doesn't believe in sending people to jail for denying the holocaust.
posted by prosopagnosia at 11:23 AM on January 10


But there isn’t any science supporting the idea that racial biology or genetics determines ability, and plenty of science demonstrating the impact of education and a sufficiently nurturing environment determining ability, so why would you even be sympathetic to the claim in the first place without any evidence to support it and plenty of evidence to refute it?

It's not that I'm "sympathetic" to them in the sense that I believe social darwinism or eugenics can be validated, but I feel like overzealous efforts to denounce any science that doesn't support a tabula rasa view of human cognition/behavior have given credence to all the new con artists pimping "human biodiversity" and "racial realism." It's the exact same reasoning behind why I'm a Jewish person who doesn't believe in sending people to jail for denying the holocaust.

That makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution. You’re allowing damaging and toxic stereotypes, which create real problems for real people, to persist.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:32 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


So what's some science which supports the view? I am agnostic on the nature/nurture question largely because I've never seen convincing evidence either way.
posted by Coventry at 11:33 AM on January 10


You mean like the one where kids who don’t get adequate nutrition in school do worse than kids who do?
posted by Autumnheart at 11:36 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


but I feel like overzealous efforts to denounce any science that doesn't support a tabula rasa view of human cognition/behavior have given credence to all the new con artists pimping "human biodiversity" and "racial realism."

These bigots in lab coats have been around for ages, and peddling their bullshit for just as long. They don't operate on "credence", but on giving other bigots cover with a thin veneer of "science-like product".
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:37 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]


It's not that I'm "sympathetic" to them in the sense that I believe social darwinism or eugenics can be validated, but I feel like overzealous efforts to denounce any science that doesn't support a tabula rasa view of human cognition/behavior have given credence to all the new con artists pimping "human biodiversity" and "racial realism."

This is like saying that the scientific consensus on climate change is responsible for climate denialism. In both cases, the contrafactual view is being driven by external ideological factors.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:38 AM on January 10 [13 favorites]


Eh....from a labor rights perspective, it honestly is kind of important that people who everyone doesn’t like socially still be able to do their job, and if the quality of their work is good, they not be fired for it.

Which would be a good argument if that was the case. Since it's not, the best course of action should include not repeating the bullshit assertions of people like Damore, and certainly don't accept them as the correct version of events. Especially when, as in this case, they are easily refuted. And if their first reaction is to run to the Nazis and stochastic terrorists like Damore did (and like every "alt-right" movement of the last several years has done), then not only is there less than zero need to step in on their behalf, we should be stepping in to oppose their bullying.

If the concern is really around protecting workers' rights, there's plenty one can do beyond what is mentioned above. For starters: don't support at-will/"right to work" policies, don't depend on shitty and bigoted "states' rights" arguments for basic civil rights, and don't make ridiculous attempts at bothsidesism. The idea that there's any sort of institutional, systemic discrimination against conservatives is laughable, so let's not buy into hypotheticals that it might be. Marginalized people have the receipts on that, and people like Damore don't, simple as that.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on January 10 [10 favorites]


Besides, if race and genetic heritage really did determine ability, and if people like Damore really cared about “the science”, then they would be forced to conclude that the Chinese and Japanese are by far genetically superior in technological and scientific advancement than white people of any nationality.

But somehow their “science” always seems to point to evidence that being white and male makes them the best for the job. Weird.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:50 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


If you're incapable of doing your job without shitting up the workplace for everybody else, you're incapable of doing your job.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:04 PM on January 10 [16 favorites]


prosopagnosia - 'overzealous efforts to denounce any science that doesn't support a tabula rasa view of human cognition/behavior'

Is this a thing that is happening? I haven't come across such denouncements, so this strikes me as a straw man argument.
posted by asok at 3:42 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


Besides, if race and genetic heritage really did determine ability, and if people like Damore really cared about “the science”, then they would be forced to conclude that the Chinese and Japanese are by far genetically superior in technological and scientific advancement than white people of any nationality.

Because, way back when, I used to debate these people online I will say there is actually a strong strain of what we now call "tech bros" who would indeed say Chinese or Japanese people have better genes. In their mind this is proof that they are not racist or self serving. Of course, if you're at the top, arguing we've been sorted out by our intrinsic value makes this concession easy, since it's other white people they are better than and it still means you don't need to do squat to help anyone else. (Also, I assume none of this stops them from complaining about management unfairly favoring cheap H1B types at their specific company if their career stalls.)

I offer this in just a "know your enemy" sort of way.
posted by mark k at 7:39 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Surely if you are to advancing the cause of white males in tech your first target would be age discrimination, which is real and affects far more white men. Oh that's right it's really about being the alpha tech skinhead in a group of under 30 highly sheltered know nothings.
posted by benzenedream at 8:43 AM on January 11 [13 favorites]


Besides, if race and genetic heritage really did determine ability, and if people like Damore really cared about “the science”, then they would be forced to conclude that the Chinese and Japanese are by far genetically superior in technological and scientific advancement than white people of any nationality.

which is why east asians are overrepresented in the c-level suite oh wait
posted by anem0ne at 10:28 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


And from the other side, former Googler Cory Altheide says that he left the company after high level pressure to stop making pro-diversity posts internally.

There's been talk that that problem went beyond Damore, and this just adds to that.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:30 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


Ehhhh, not exactly. From the article, bolding mine:
Altheide's saga began in August 2015, when an internal Google discussion forum called Industryinfo hosted a long-running thread called "if you think women in tech is just a pipeline problem, you haven't been paying attention." The thread became so contentious that two of the most senior Google managers—Urs Hölzle and Sridhar Ramaswamy—ultimately shut the discussion down.

"I respectfully ask that everyone stop engaging on this thread," Ramaswamy wrote. "Google is not a debate club or a philosophy class. We are a workplace and we have an obligation to make sure our discussions remain respectful."
Kinda sounds like Google just doesn't like people starting internal flame wars with their coworkers, regardless of ideology.
posted by palomar at 5:12 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


What? It quoted a google employee arguing that blacks are obviously inferior.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:47 PM on January 12


Kinda sounds like Google just doesn't like people starting internal flame wars with their coworkers, regardless of ideology.

You should keep reading on:
A few days later, Altheide writes, "I started a new thread to show, hey, look, here's why people begin to suspect you might not be 'just asking questions' if you constantly only ask questions on diversity topics." Altheide's new post pointed to a blog run by an anonymous Google employee who subscribed to the openly racist "neoreactionary" ideology. That blogger wrote things like "blacks are not equal to whites. Therefore, the 'inequality' between these races is expected and makes perfect sense."

"This is one of your coworkers," Altheide wrote in his September 2, 2015 post. "I understand some folks can't comprehend why Social Justice Warriors (or, as I like to call us, 'people who care about other people') raise their hackles when yet another diversity thread is beset by a stream of 'reasonable, well-intentioned' (derailing) questions. It's because at least some of those 'questions` are—well, let's just say they're not coming from a position of good faith."

Altheide says this post earned him a surprise meeting with an HR representative and his manager. In the meeting, they pointed Altheide back to Ramaswamy's earlier request that people stop engaging on the gender diversity thread—a not-very-subtle hint to stop posting on this kind of topic.
Managers like Hölzle and Ramaswamy are why James Damore felt it safe to drop a 10 page screed on the genetic unfitness of women to work at Google like a turd into a punch bowl - because they're more concerned about a thread becoming "contentious" then actually looking at what was being said and realizing they had a bigger problem on their hands.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:08 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


Also, I don't care how politely you phrase it, saying someone is inferior because of their race is inherently disrespectful.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:10 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


It looks like that was a google employee arguing that on their own blog? Obviously I'm not suggesting that makes it OK (it's disgusting, and stupid to boot -- that argument assumes its own conclusion in the first clause of the sentence), but it's distinct from a workplace discussion thread. From my understanding, Altheide posted those excerpts (from another googler's blog) to a workplace thread, talking about how "Just Asking Questions" isn't really "just" anything. He's right, of course, but maybe it wasn't the smartest idea to re-stoke that particular flame 5 seconds after the SVP had asked everyone to shut it down.

I'm torn. On one hand, I think Altheide is right about the content of his posts (in other words, yeah, sexism is a problem that affects the tech industry, and racism does too, just like both affect everything else, it turns out). On the other hand, if it's causing a bunch of google employees to have a flame war rather than do their jobs, I can see how managers took notice and put a stop to it. Although, yeah, the SVP was pretty gross about it.
posted by axiom at 7:16 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we are using a different interpretation of the phrase 'that problem' - I assumed it referred to the problem of Google having employees who are not on board with diversity programs because they (the employees) are bigoted assholes. Altheide's story demonstrates pretty well that Damore is not a lone example.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:37 AM on January 13


"Savagely tactless" is such a great turn of phrase -- encapsulating both benefit of the doubt (mayhap 'twas but mere tactlessness!) and the gross degree of the transgression. And what an ignorant, juvenile claim it was for Hölzle to make. Of course I want to know which coworkers are the Nazis! How else can I possibly defend against them? I (nor any other non-brogrammer) can't shove my face under the couch cushions and lalalalaimnotlistening my way to a fulfilling career if the environment is full of Nazi saboteurs.
posted by sldownard at 4:54 AM on January 14


Altheide says Hölzle told him that "if the majority of your coworkers are Nazis, it is better if you don't know about it." Altheide adds: "This I remembered verbatim because I thought it was a savagely tactless analogy for a Swiss man to be making."

If Altheide is even close to accurate in this recounting then this is well beyond an SVP being 'pretty gross.'
posted by PMdixon at 9:04 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


"Go along to get along," then. Got it, Urs. Heck of a management culture you have there, Sundar.
posted by rhizome at 11:18 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Don't be evil, just make peace with the evil around you
posted by benzenedream at 11:32 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Wired published an article about censorship in the modern age.

One of the people interviewed for it was James Damore.

Go fuck yourself, Wired.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:13 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Well, this explains all the eyeballs I saw rolling down the road earlier today.
posted by loquacious at 5:04 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


(I read through the article, as well as the one on the Cloudflare/Daily Stormer fiasco. Wired should have titled the issue "Why Aren't The Usual Paeans To Free Speech And The First Amendment Working Anymore?")
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:11 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Yeah... that Wired article... reminds me of the song "We Didn't Start the Fire" from back in the late '80s. Like, yep, that's a list of things, juxtaposed by dint of being in a list. And the point or connection between them or analysis is... what, exactly? And the title/chorus is essentially meaningless, yet some of the examples in the list still manage to conflict with whatever poorly thought-out message it was trying to convey.
posted by eviemath at 4:27 AM on January 18


The message was "free speech (as an unimpeachable ideal) is under attack!" Putting Damore in the piece served to illustrate why.

(I'm still infuriated by the Cloudflare article. It's a perfect example of what happens when you put your ideals ahead of people.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:57 AM on January 18


Haven't listened to the entire episode, but Mic Dicta put out an episode in part examining the Damore complaint today. Their commentary was that Damore probably doesn't have a discrimination case, but might actually have a valid complaint relative to hostile work environment based on the message-board sniping in the filing. Google sounds like a weird place to work from their description.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:23 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Not sure if this needs a separate thread or not, but...ugh:

Nitasha Tiku: The Dirty War Over Diversity Inside Google
In interviews with WIRED, 15 current Google employees accuse coworkers of inciting outsiders to harass rank-and-file employees who are minority advocates, including queer and transgender employees. Since August, screenshots from Google’s internal discussion forums, including personal information, have been displayed on sites including Breitbart and Vox Popoli, a blog run by alt-right author Theodore Beale, who goes by the name Vox Day. Other screenshots were included in a 161-page lawsuit that Damore filed in January, alleging that Google discriminates against whites, males, and conservatives.

What followed, the employees say, was a wave of harassment. On forums like 4chan, members linked advocates’ names with their social-media accounts. At least three employees had their phone numbers, addresses, and deadnames (a transgender person’s name prior to transitioning) exposed. Google site reliability engineer Liz Fong-Jones, a trans woman, says she was the target of harassment, including violent threats and degrading slurs based on gender identity, race, and sexual orientation. More than a dozen pages of personal information about another employee were posted to Kiwi Farms, which New York has called “the web’s biggest community of stalkers.”

Meanwhile, inside Google, the diversity advocates say some employees have “weaponized human resources” by goading them into inflammatory statements, which are then captured and reported to HR for violating Google’s mores around civility or for offending white men.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:08 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


That is why Hölzle's position is unacceptable and why he needs to be handed walking papers (or at the very least placed in a position where it's made abundantly clear to him that employee issues are No Longer His Concern.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:37 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Their commentary was that Damore probably doesn't have a discrimination case, but might actually have a valid complaint relative to hostile work environment based on the message-board sniping in the filing. Google sounds like a weird place to work from their description.

I think there's also a component of These Fucking Startups.

Google, and a lot of similar new-model free-wheeling companies, do a lot of things that other companies have long since stopped doing, because they're 'disruptors'. They're recreating company towns, but now they're cool! They're allowing people to talk about all sorts of shit at work, because they're just so awesome you get to bring your 'whole self' to work! They're recreating bus systems and pay systems and all sorts of nonsense, because surely no one else has had good ideas about this before!

And it turns out there are VERY GOOD FUCKING REASONS for people not to be encouraged to bring their 'whole self' to work, because when someone's whole self is fucking awful, it's going to be really hard for other employees not to react to that, and "no but really he is terrible" is not a great excuse for workplace harassment. This is on Damore, but it is also definitely on Google and their "but guys what if we DID talk about religion and sex and politics? What if only losers think you don't discuss those at work?"
posted by corb at 10:40 AM on January 26


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