So Google decided to fire an employee who penned a memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” The memo suggested that, while diversity was an important and shared goal, it may be a mistake to assume that all “gaps” — particularly gender gaps — are attributable to bias. The googler offered substantial scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that biological differences (and not bias) may explain much, if not most, of these gaps at the margins. The googler implored readers to treat people as individuals, rather than as members of groups, and to judge each person on their own merits. Finally, the googler suggested that Google had developed a stifled, partisan culture that ran contrary to the ideals of diversity and chilled the free exchange of ideas.
According to Google’s CEO, Google fired the employee for allegedly violating the company’s code of conduct by “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Much of the MSM has described the pro-diversity memorandum as a sexist, anti-diversity screed.
(1) I don’t really have a view of the claims in the memo (but other credible sources seem to agree). Google doesn’t really either, since its criticism focused on the claim itself — or rather a twisted account of the claim — and not the evidence. That being said, Google’s decision to censure critical inquiry because it runs contrary to Progressive dogma is itself very bad science. It undermines the credibility of Google’s broader commitment to evidence-based reasoning and diminishes Google’s ability to make “but science says” arguments in the future.
[It certainly puts the lie to the whole “Obama partners with tech to reengineer government narrative.” If tech relies on data except when relying on data is politically inconvenient, it defeats the whole purpose of bringing data-based decision-making to government. Although, that’s what I would expect from the self-selected group of googlers who opted to go work for the administration.]
(2) Google’s decision to make it a fireable offense to openly believe that biological differences contribute to (if not explain) different gender roles and outcomes — a belief that I suspect is shared by more than half of Americans and wayyyy more than half of humanity — is a pretty big blow for liberalism. (The media’s overt misrepresentation of the substance and intent of the memorandum are pretty terrible too, but we already knew the MSM was a shrill partisan outfit.)
It doesn’t really surprise me that some people within Google are science-hating, intolerant, close-minded bigots. It also doesn’t surprise that such people might concentrate in cost-centers, like HR, which add significant value (legally) by enforcing pro-regime monoculture.
It does surprise me a little that Google’s CEO would take such a visible stand against diversity and critical inquiry. When the most powerful company in the world signals that it will fire you if, in its sole discretion, it determines that you have violated Progressive taboos, it will certainly not foster coexistence, tolerance, understanding or peace. It will similarly erode Google’s credibility to promote anything like coexistence, tolerance, understanding or peace, or demand anything like those values from anyone else. Tolerance is a two-way street. Tolerance for me, but not for thee will backfire.
To give a sense of the hypocrisy, imagine the following immigration compromise: exclude/deport anyone who believes that biological differences contribute to, explain and justify different gender roles and outcomes. The anti-immigration crowd would take that deal in a heartbeat. Progressives would howl about racism and islamophobia.
(3) I think companies should be allowed to discriminate to their hearts content. I also, think, however, that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If discrimination against the Progressive coalition is a cause of action, then other forms of discrimination must be actionable, as well. Google should be simultaneously liable for making a hostile work environment if it fires the employee (to non-Progressives) and if it does not (to Progressives). Just like firms should be forced to choose between discriminating against a trans for failing to accommodate his bathroom needs, or discriminating against women for allowing a male into the women’s locker room. Unfortunately, the absurdity will be embraced by lawyers, but hopefully it will also impose some discipline on this madness. Maybe not.
Before you shriek about false equivalencies and “historically” marginalized, oppressed, or powerless groups, it makes sense to consider at what point these “groups” are no longer “powerless.” When the most powerful company in the world fires people for disagreeing with you, you may have reached that point.
(4) Other than as a shareholder, I’m not really concerned that Google will slowly rot itself from the inside. There will be some social value lost, but I’m confident in the ingenuity and resourcefulness in humanity that some alternative will emerge to take Google’s place. [And by that point, the foot-stomping “break up Google” crowd will have moved on to some other “monopoly” that “can’t be stopped” without regulation, unlike the previously unstoppable monopolies, Google, Microsoft, Walmart, GM, AT&T, the cable companies, etc.]
(5) What does concern me, however, is that Google will use its considerable influence to advocate laws that will prevent ingenious and resourceful humans from taking its place. “If Google rots, we all rot!”
Google has already partnered with the ADL–led by the simpering lightweight Jonathan Greenblatt who will do anything to keep his place in the Progressive coalition–to combat “hate speech.” It would not surprise me at all if, at some point, Google, Facebook, and Twitter join together to offer the internet in humble sacrifice to their Progressive overlords. It’s already happening in Europe.
That is, after all, the political dynamic that drives much regulation:
Companies say, “we finally adopted these value-killing policies you’ve been nagging us about and now all of our customers are fleeing to these upstart competitors who are offering the exact same services you scolded us for! It’s not fair! Make them illegal!”
Regulators say, “That’s a great idea. We’ll regulate the bejeezus out of those
ingenious and resourceful humans scofflaws.”
The press reports, “Government and industry agree that regulation is in the best interests of everyone! Stop questioning our authority. Everyone go home.”
It will be hard to close the internet when so many of the people who built the internet are wrong-think wierdos like the fired googler, but it won’t be pretty.