No free lunch (at Google) for thought criminals

It is a fun/interesting day for Americans whenever Silicon Valley icons Ellen Pao or James Damore are in the news. We can celebrate today because Mr. Damore, the Google Heretic, is back.

In a previous post, I summarized a Hillary-voting anti-development friend’s position with

1) immigration into a nation of 325 million is good and needs to be supported with passionate political effort

2) immigration into a town of 13,444 is bad and needs to be fought with passionate political effort

Maybe he can get hired at Google, based on “James Damore sues Google, alleging intolerance of white male conservatives” (Guardian):

The suit also alleges that Google maintains a “secret” blacklist of conservative authors who are banned from being on campus. Curtis Yarvin, a “neoreactionary” who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug, was allegedly removed from the campus by security after being invited to lunch. The plaintiffs subsequently learned, it is claimed in the suit, that Alex Jones, the InfoWars conspiracy theorist, and Theodore Beale, an “alt-right” blogger known as VoxDay, were also banned from the campus.

The suit will likely reignite the culture wars that have swirled around the tech industry since the election of Donald Trump. Many liberals within the tech industry have pressured their employers to take a stand against Trump policies, such as the Muslim travel ban, and companies have struggled to decide the extent to which they will allow the resurgent movement of white nationalists to use their platforms to organize.

So permanent immigration of folks from countries where a desire to wage jihad is common (as estimated by Americans who don’t speak the language and don’t know anything about the culture!) is good. But lunchtime immigration of people who might offend the snowflake brogrammers is bad.

[Separately, I’m not sure how any Trump policy can be characterized by a neutral journalist as a “Muslim travel ban.” Countries with the largest Muslim populations, such as Indonesia and Pakistan, were not on the list, were they? Even if the ban had been implemented as proposed, approximately 1.7 billion Muslims would have been exempt from it.]

From a legal angle, I don’t see how this can be a class action lawsuit. Can there be more than a handful of Google employees who will admit to not supporting Hillary Clinton? And in a nation that lacks coherent political ideologies or any significant number of politicians who support an ideology (rather than ad hoc methods of getting reelected), what method could be used to identify a person as “conservative”? If gender is fluid, how could “males” be identified to join the class? What happens if they switch their gender IDs over the years of litigation? And finally what does it mean to be definitively “white”?

Readers: What’s your favorite part of this new chapter in the Google Heretic Saga?

35 Comments

  1. a poor ignorant soul

    January 9, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

    1

    Reading through some of the examples of behavior stated in the court case brought me many a chuckle. Somebody uploaded the full document on dropbox. (https://www.dropbox.com/s/f6p02fijxrd7c6m/20180108%20Damore%20-%20Complaint_fs.pdf?dl=0)

  2. Neal

    January 9, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

    2

    “I’m not sure how any Trump policy can be characterized by a neutral journalist as a “Muslim travel ban.” Countries with the largest Muslim populations, such as Indonesia and Pakistan, were not on the list, were they?”

    An incomplete “Muslim travel ban” is still a “Muslim travel ban”.

  3. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 3:33 pm

    3

    poor/ignorant: thanks for that document. I skipped to the last page and already found the injunction to avoid offending 19th century Melanesians with “cargo cult programming”. This is truly gold. I also like the fights about degrees of “entitlement”. This is maybe the best demonstration of Google’s monopoly power. A company that faced competitors could never ignore customers in favor of these kinds of arguments.

    Neal: The link in the original post shows that, among the 8 countries that were part of the proposed ban, Venezuela and North Korea are included. Are those “Muslim” nations?

  4. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 3:36 pm

    4

    I can’t stop reading this Complaint! Page 79 describes a fight among three women in the bathroom (actually I can’t be sure about the gender IDs, but they were all in the “women’s bathroom” according to the document). Woman A was changing a baby’s diaper. Woman B made an offhand comment to the baby. Woman C said “I quietly pointed out to [Woman B] that it’s inappropriate to sexualize an infant and that her comments reinforced sexist and heterosexist norms.”

    [One thing that is interesting is that the presumably female author of this post has had her name redacted. Whereas the men who’ve made more or less direct demands that Damore be fired have their full names shown. I wonder how the decisions to redact were made.]

  5. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

    5

    It is also fun to see Meredith Whitaker on page 68 ask about indirect thoughtcrime: “What should women and minorities at Google do if someone who openly supported the [Heretic’s] doc is transferred to their team, or added as a perf reviewer, or becomes their manager?”

    Nobody attacks her for limiting the victim list to “women and minorities”! Why shouldn’t righteous Hillary-supporting white males also be protected from working with someone who was willing to work with James Damore?

    Trevor Schroeder, page 66, points out that “Even in the event we would hesitate to dismiss a person for espousing repugnant opinions, if nobody is willing to work with them then they cannot be a part of team and cannot be retained.” That was August 7 at 10:27 am and James Damore was indeed fired the same day. On page 73 Mr. Schroeder says that a manager shouldn’t say “what is or is not correct political orientation,” but “If your personal or political views are antithetical to [the correct orientation] you can get the hell out. I know where the door is.”

  6. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 3:51 pm

    6

    Heather Young on page 63 suggests hunting for the 175+ people who anonymously agreed with Damore in some sort of internal poll: “What is being done to understand the true scope of this cancer within our culture”.

    Bridget Spitznagel suggests (page 61) that white employees take a workshop titled “Healing from Toxic Whiteness to Better Fight for Racial Justice.”

    A redacted person on page 3 says that “a majority of people who identify themselves as ‘Republicans’ also believe the Earth is 10,000 years old. Therefore … ‘Republicans’ can be placed in the bucket category of idiots”. [How does someone in Silicon Valley know what a Republican might believe? And, as the Creationist said to the geologist who asserted a particular age for the Earth… Were you there?]

    Robert Lehmann doesn’t understand how anyone could like lower tax rates: “how — as a rational person, as a Googler — anyone could possibly support Trump”

    Alon Altman could have run a Vietnamese reeducation camp. On page 8 he says a thought criminal will be “welcome at Google again if he changed his mind and accepted the company’s values of inclusion.”

    Jennifer Messerly: “If we’re going to have any success in creating a safe environment for minorities here, then we must reject anti-diversity beliefs/efforts.”

    Larry Lansing: “… let the firings continue until behavior improves. I don’t want these people at my company.”

    Nicolas Dumazet, wounded on page 24: “Do you understand why ‘we shouldn’t leave men behind’ is highly triggering?”

    Kim Burchett (female-appearing, on page 25): “Here’s a suggestion from my wife: ‘I think only women and poc [persons of color?] should be allowed to make hiring decisions at google for a year.” (Kim comes back on page 51 with “I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year” (not sure that this is correctly punctuated, incidentally))

  7. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 3:59 pm

    7

    The two Silicon Valley heroes are tied together in this Complaint! On page 25, a Googler suggests “Hire everyone from Project Include” (one of Ellen Pao’s post-lawsuit enterprises)

  8. Pavel

    January 9, 2018 @ 4:03 pm

    8

    If that document is an example of how the tech industry thinks in the US, then Google and other US tech companies are in big trouble. Alibaba and others in China will have a field day taking advantage of these “politically correct” weaklings.

  9. Neal

    January 9, 2018 @ 4:05 pm

    9

    “among the 8 countries that were part of the proposed ban, Venezuela and North Korea are included. Are those “Muslim” nations”

    No, but again, a “Muslim Ban” which tacks on two non-muslim countries is still a “Muslim Ban”.

  10. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

    10

    On page 35, a Googler suggests #Resist because the Trump Administration is comparable to the Nazis. On page 36, Jay Gengelbach suggests extending criminal background checks to thought-criminal background checks and hounding the “serial offender” thought criminals out of Silicon Valley. “Silence is a part of rape culture. We shouldn’t be a part of it.” Page 39 has Matthew Montgomery saying “We went to war over this shit” and advocating for “punching Nazis” as “defensive violence.” (will a Nazi bleed if hit over the head with an Aeron Chair?) Rachel Blum, page 40, concurs. Page 47 has the penguin meme: “If you want to increase diversity at Google fire all the bigoted white men” (but keep the bigoted Asian men? and keep the bigoted white women?)

  11. paddy

    January 9, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

    11

    I don’t care that Damore wins, although I hope he does.

    I just want the truth of Google’s perfidy to be widely and publicly known.

  12. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 4:15 pm

    12

    Scott Bruceheart, page 57: “Dear all the white people: do not put the burden of relieving your systematic racist discrimination on the people that aren’t white.” [How did so many Asians get hired at Google if there are white racists in charge?]

    Antonio D’souza, page 58, displays an ability to appreciate the Mao-era Chinese practice of self-criticism, celebrating a colleague who apologized for “whitesplaining Black History” and said “First time I’ve seen a mea-culpa submission. Would be nice to see more demonstrations of self-awareness.”

    If the documents to be discovered in this case can be made public they will be an amazing source for historians of 21st century culture.

  13. Z

    January 9, 2018 @ 5:12 pm

    13

    It’s not coherent to simultaneously characterize a group of people as both “brogrammers” and “snowflakes” sensitive to liberal/social justice offences, since “brogrammer” implies insensitivity.

  14. Vince

    January 9, 2018 @ 5:25 pm

    14

    From a legal angle, I don’t see how this can be a class action lawsuit. Can there be more than a handful of Google employees who will admit to not supporting Hillary Clinton? And in a nation that lacks coherent political ideologies or any significant number of politicians who support an ideology (rather than ad hoc methods of getting reelected), what method could be used to identify a person as “conservative”?

    The bigger problem is that there’s no law against not hiring conservatives.

    Regarding Alex Jones, here’s a recent rant from him about a CNN host. He sounds deranged, but has a enough self-control to avoid using the word Jew.

    ALEX JONES (HOST): But just look at [Brian] Stelter again. Put him on screen. I think that’s all the broadcast should be, is just a photo of Stelter smiling. Ugh. Ugh. Oh my gosh. Oh, hell on earth. He wants to run your life. He wants to control every aspect of your life because he knows he is a cowardly degenerate sack of anti-human trash. I pledge before my heavenly father that I will resist them every way I can. These people are the literal demon spawn of the pit of hell. Look at him. And you know what, he is better than you if you keep letting him run your life. He runs your kids, he runs the schools, he runs the banks. This guy, this spirit, this smiling, leering devil that thinks you can’t see what he is. He is your enemy. Period.

    All the narcissistic devil-worshiping filth. I see you enemy. I see you enemy. Enemy. Enemy. You are my enemy. And I swear total resistance to you with everything I’ve got. Disingenuous, fake, false, brokeback, twisted, a defiler, a betrayer, a back stabber, a devil. You will pay. Yeah, you don’t think I see your face, scum? You don’t think I don’t see you, Stelter? I see you, you understand me? I know what you think of me and my family. I see you right back. You understand that? You understand that, Stelter? [Grunting noises] Stelter. You will fall. You will not bring humanity down. God is going to destroy you. Get him off the screen. [Crying] Oh, God, they’re so evil. Just please God, free us from them. They’re drunk on our children’s blood for God’s sake. OK, I’m going to stop right now.

    https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/01/05/alex-jones-claims-brian-stelter-runs-your-kids-he-runs-schools-he-runs-banks-and-drunk-our-childrens/218987

    On

  15. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 5:36 pm

    15

    Z: They can dish it out, but they can’t take it 🙂

  16. GermanL

    January 9, 2018 @ 5:42 pm

    16

    Wow, that document is a gold mine of absurdity.

    Now I know why google search has not improved at all in the last few years.

  17. bobbybobbob

    January 9, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

    17

    Google should be forced to bake James a gay wedding cake as an apology.

  18. rglovejoy

    January 9, 2018 @ 6:05 pm

    18

    GermanL: It’s also why Google I/O stopped being interesting.

  19. anon

    January 9, 2018 @ 6:37 pm

    19

    Vince:

    California’s laws against employer political activity retaliation, Labor Code 1101 and 1102 LC, prohibit employers from setting any policy that prevents employees from engaging in political activity … or that tries to control or direct employees’ political activity, attempting to control employees’ political activities by threatening to engage in political activity retaliation, or retaliating in any way (including through wrongful termination) against an employee for his/her political beliefs or activities.

    https://www.shouselaw.com/employment/political-retaliation.html

  20. Viking

    January 9, 2018 @ 7:11 pm

    20

    This is incredibly funny!

    The ironic part is that Damore seemed to belong to the tiny tribe of “Sane Conservatives”, but probably not anymore.

    https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&source=hp&ei=q1lVWoHVM4OI_Qa5056YDw&q=sane+conservative+site%3Adavidbrin.blogspot.com&oq=sane+conservative+site%3Adavidbrin.blogspot.com&gs_l=psy-ab.3…13897.13897.0.15139.4.2.0.0.0.0.132.132.0j1.2.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..2.1.156.6..35i39k1.157.bGmaGadoENE

  21. Anonymous

    January 9, 2018 @ 7:14 pm

    21

    Here’s Alex Jones’ video documenting one of his actual visits to Google. If somebody had made a visit like that to one of your meetings at ArsDigita, would you welcome him back for future visits?

  22. Marcell Ortutay

    January 9, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

    22

    Hi Philip,

    You seem to be associated with Harvard (are you a professor?) so I assume you are a legitimate commentator, and not a troll. I found your blog from Hacker News.

    I think your post engages in a strawman argument. It’s true some people in the Bay Area are strongly anti-development, but that opinion is not representative, especially not among young people. There are lots of pro-development groups, for example “YIMBY”, or the pro-housing coalition that recently got a majority on the Mt View city council (Google’s home town). That coalition is planning to double the available housing in Mt View, which would presumably double the population. Many people who are Democrats/voted for Hillary (including myself) also support these pro-development movements.

    We want both immigration into the country of 300 million (after all, many of us are immigrants!), and we also want development so we can buy a home for under $1 million.

    I hope your future posts and comments will engage in less strawman arguments, and that you can understand the current state of local politics in the Bay Area.

    Kind regards,
    Marcell Ortutay

  23. paddy

    January 9, 2018 @ 7:43 pm

    23

    @Marcell PhilG has been an author, MIT professor and serial entrepreneur for many years. I think he can understand just about anything you throw at him 🙂

  24. J

    January 9, 2018 @ 9:08 pm

    24

    I worked/lived in SF at a different tech company during this time, and I do think it was blown out of proportion.

    However, trying to place myself in management’s position- if an employee acts or speaks in a way that angers more than one other employee, and all are equally valuable, is it worth keeping the one that’s causing issues? I can’t prevent the others from being offended, but I can remove the offending individual.

    From a purely business perspective, I’d have a hard time defending him, even if I agreed with what he was saying.

  25. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 10:02 pm

    25

    Paddy: Thanks for your vote of confidence, however misplaced!

    Marcell: I think you may have taken my use of the word “immigration” a little too literally.

    Anonymous: I hadn’t heard of Alex Jones before today. I’m not sure why Google would bother either to invite him officially or later ban him from their cafeteria (assuming that some of their coder slaves wanted to talk to him).

    J: Diversity of opinion certainly can lead to disagreements, so it would seem to make sense for an employer to hire a set of employees who can all agree on, e.g., voting for one particular political candidate and buying into that candidate’s platform. Now nobody has to waste time debating the merits of a policy during coffee breaks. But on the other hand, we’re sometimes told that “diversity” is the sure path to profits. So a profit-minded employer might seek to boost profits by hiring people with different opinions, even if they sometimes fought over who was right. Maybe the answer is that when you’re Google and have a monopoly your profits will be constant and you can afford the luxury of a harmonious non-diverse workforce (or maybe just fire 99 percent of them and let the servers keep spitting out the cash?).

  26. philg

    January 9, 2018 @ 10:14 pm

    26

    I had an idea that the core employees at Google had been called “brogrammers” because they created a culture that excluded women (as evidenced by the paucity of women among their numbers; certainly the lack of women cannot be attributed to any of the reasons that the Google Heretic suggested). But now we find out that these guys need to lie on their fainting couches and cry whenever someone expresses an opinion that contradicts their personal beliefs. That makes them “snowflakes” in modern parlance. So the typical Hillary-supporting, Trump-hating, and James Damore-ousting Googler would then be a “broflake.”

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/broflake

    says that this term is already in use, though, and with a different meaning: “A man who is readily upset or offended by progressive attitudes that conflict with his more conventional or conservative views.”

  27. SK

    January 9, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

    27

    I’m ashamed to admit that I know and worked with some of the people you quoted. Turns out, a bunch of intolerant dumbfucks.

    Sundar effectively ruined Google culture and created atmosphere of hate and intolerance. It was sad to see him intentionally misquoting heretic’s magnum opus.

  28. Neal

    January 9, 2018 @ 11:09 pm

    28

    “J: Diversity of opinion certainly can lead to disagreements, so it would seem to make sense for an employer to hire a set of employees who can all agree on, e.g., voting for one particular political candidate and buying into that candidate’s platform. Now nobody has to waste time debating the merits of a policy during coffee breaks. But on the other hand, we’re sometimes told that “diversity” is the sure path to profits. So a profit-minded employer might seek to boost profits by hiring people with different opinions, even if they sometimes fought over who was right.”

    It’s almost like there is a tension between factors with opposed advantages which must be balanced.

    “It was said to see him intentionally misquoting heretic’s magnum opus.”

    Damore was extensively misquoted but “magnum opus” is a bit much.

  29. Joseph Hertzlinger

    January 10, 2018 @ 12:43 am

    29

    It looks like a Google employee found a way to discredit PC that’s likely to be more effective than lawsuits.
    https://twitter.com/mombot/status/950751264354091008

  30. Robby

    January 10, 2018 @ 2:01 am

    30

    LOL! Love all these impassioned comments to obvious satire

  31. Joe Shipman

    January 10, 2018 @ 9:47 am

    31

    I’m not a lawyer but my dad was and I’ve studied constitutional law quite a lot on my own. It’s pretty clear that if you reversed the races and genders and political orientation, this suit would have excellent chances of success. The real true issue here is whether, when the law itself uses neutral terms so it appears to be “color-blind” etc., it is permissible to interpret it *asymmetrically* by appealing to unwritten social norms.

    The “progressives” (I won’t call them “liberals” because that term has been degraded) are sure now that this asymmetry is *legally* permissible because all they ever hear in their echo chamber is how spurious “color-blindness” is and how free speech doesn’t apply to the “intolerant” (conveniently defined as anyone in the rightmost 50% of the population), but that’s because they are legal ignoramuses who don’t grasp that the most recent precedent the Supreme Court could appeal to to justify asymmetrical interpretation is Dred Scott. That case is the reason that ever since the law has been interpreted symmetrically whenever the issue came up.

  32. philg

    January 10, 2018 @ 12:23 pm

    32

    Joe: Good point on the reversal. Let’s try this out…

    The Damore complaint has a woman approving forwarding a recommendation from her wife that white men be excluded from hiring decisions.

    Reversed: A man forwards a suggestion from his wife that, given the billions of dollars in shareholder value destroyed by Marissa Mayer at Yahoo!, that white women be excluded from hiring decisions.

    On the other hand, I don’t think that the law in practice prevents discrimination against men and/or whites. See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/movies/zoe-lister-jones-all-female-film-crew.html for example. Everyone is happy when an employer establishes a “no men will be hired” policy. Maybe the letter of the law prohibits this and a lawyer can make an argument on that basis, but if we look at practical outcomes from the courts the “real law” might be that race and sex discrimation is okay if done righteously.

  33. the other Donald

    January 10, 2018 @ 1:11 pm

    33

    It’s not comforting that the competition is named DuckDuckGo.

  34. Tom

    January 10, 2018 @ 1:13 pm

    34

    The inmates are truly running the asylum, too funny! Except, unfortunately, that they are apparently all hateful creeps.

    (Footnote to paragraph 123:)

    For instance, an employee who sexually identifies as “a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin” and “an expansive ornate building” presented a talk entitled “Living as a Plural Being” at an internal company event.

    I wouldn’t last a week at Google. And could one hope the entity above was Larry Page?

  35. anonymale

    January 15, 2018 @ 1:03 am

    35

    >>an expansive ornate building

    Tom, you’re a buildingist. My mother was a Porte-Cochere from Nigeria and my father was Faux-Tudor Wainscotting from Ireland. No matter what the president says about them or their homelands, they were proud Americans who scrimped and worked hard to put their children through college. All five of whom are very successful and self-identify as Gas Stations or Motel 6’s located on major exits of the Jersey Turnpike.

Log in