Both Sides on the Google Memo Flap Are Right

That's why they want to kill each other!


The response to the Google memo flap has fallen along predictable lines. The right is valorizing James Damore for honestly acknowledging that sexual

mjmonty via / CC BY

differences are bound to doom Google's diversity efforts. And the left is condemning him for downplaying that sexism is a major cause of the gender gap in high-tech.

Both have it half right, I note in my column at The Week. But of course that doesn't mean that they'll see that. No, given that they are in a perennial and increasingly ugly culture war, they will dig in their heels and call each other names.

"The dilemma of the Google memo is that all sides have a point."

Go here to read the whole piece.

P.S.: Nick Gillespie and I disagree on whether Google was right to fire the memo bro. But you won't hear us cursing each other out 🙂 Actually, I agree quite a bit with his general point that the libertarian tendency to refrain from passing judgement on the decisions of market actors causes us to look the other way when companies engage in gross injustices, which erodes the broader cultural foundation one needs to build a free and open society.

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  1. “The response to the Google memo flap has fallen along predictable lines.”

    rational and irrational?

  2. “Go here to read the whole piece.”

    Uhh, you go ahead, I’ll meet you there.

  3. “honestly acknowledging that sexual differences are bound to doom Google’s diversity efforts”

    That’s not what he argued. I’m assuming you didn’t read the memo. He said that differences in job expectations, based upon biology, is why less women are employed in tech and suggested ways to fix it.

  4. No, given that they are in a perennial and increasingly ugly culture war, they will dig in their heels and call each other names.

    Or one side will write a memo and the other side will prove them wrong by insisting the memo is a falsehood and firing it’s author. You know, tit for tat.

    1. Don’t forget trying to make him a pariah.

      They (or rather, Google employees, who were not disciplined) stepped over the line there, I think.

    2. You can’t say tit.

      Sexual harassment, triggering word, creates a hostile comment section, uh, um, er, for the children!

  5. Both Sides on the Google Memo Flap Are Right

    Both sides are wrong too.

    1. If I agreed with you, then we’d both be … Wait, what was the question again?

  6. “But you won’t hear us cursing each other out ”

    Something tells me Shikha is getting tired of being called a stupid cunt in the comments.

    1. Something tells me Shikha is getting tired of being called a stupid cunt in the comments.

      You’re both only half right because it’s a blog and none of us actually hear any cursing.

    2. Do you endorse that wording, Tom?

  7. Isn’t it a bit of a stereotype to say the left is totally against this dude & siding with Google’s view? I’m definitely on the left and I think this guy was not wrong and that Google shouldn’t have fired him for what he said at all. A number of my leftist friends agree, & many leftist online personalities do too (like Thunderf00t & PSA Sitch on Youtube). So this situation isn’t really a left vs right culture war, but a truth vs uninformed war (if you can call it a war). In fact, anyone who’s actually read the memo will note that he explicitly says he’s not against diversity. The real problem is that Google fired somebody for discussing working conditions with co-workers, which is not a fireable offense. Google could have legal problems for doing it (see “No, Google Should Not Have Fired the ‘Anti-Diversity’ Engineer” on That’s what the real problem is about, but some people who are uninformed for NOT reading the memo but only hearing a biased report about the memo, are making this into a problem that isn’t real.

    1. Your fellow lefties (anyone preaching the diversity gospel) will condemn you just as quickly and thoroughly as they did Damore; for the sin of insufficient devotion to the faith. You are right – it isn’t so much about left/right from any reasoned and reasonable standpoint. This is about unquestioning obedience to the dictates of dogma.

      1. The only reason this became a big deal is because it’s a clear example of infallible Marxist oppression narrative dogma colliding with reality. Unstoppable force (progress of history toward utopian equality) vs immovable object (physiological reality). That Shikha buys into the oppression theory surprises nobody who reads Reason.

        1. What part of that article do you consider exhibiting oppression theory?

    2. In fact, anyone who’s actually read the memo will note that he explicitly says he’s not against diversity.

      So did Google. So does every university whiner protesting diverse opinions.

  8. (Part 1 of 2)

    Shikha, calling him “single minded” and wrong therein appears inaccurate. I appreciate your balance, particularly as a woman who acknowledges supposedly bad sex differences. You may have gone a bit too far in your desire to arrive at the conclusion that every side is (equally) wrong in this particular conflict. I’m quoting the from the memo as presented here:

    “I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority.”

    “People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document. [2] Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it’s a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.”

    1. (Part 2 of 2)

      “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions”

      “I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more.”

      “At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.”

      Someone who undertakes it to offer another perspective and to start a debate can’t be (pejoratively) called “single-minded”, in this sea of provisos. Nor can one rightly hold him to the standards of a monograph.

      1. That was a well reasoned and articulate argument, too bad it is all invalid due to your inate bias and the fact that you are a racist, sexist, homophobe.

        1. t-
          For optimal signaling, always include “bigotry” and “hatred”.

  9. So, google has reasons for doing what they’re doing, and they might be good reasons, but they’re a business, not a social justice entity, and they hurt themselves by doing this.

    If I were a shareholder, I’d want to know why pissing off so many people is going to improve my investment.

    With that in mind, it’s hard to see how they were right at all.

    1. They were “right” to fire him, out of fear of Government Almighty… Government Almighty is, after all, breathing down their necks about “unequal pay” for men and women. NOT firing the “wrong-thinker” might make them look bad… Look as if they tolerate a “hostile environment” for women, in tolerating ANYONE who might notice any differences between men and women!

      The ugly thing is, not Government Almighty might “get” them for firing this man, who made a good-faith suggestion for a better work environment, which Government Almighty says is NOT a firing offense! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! Government Almighty will getcha, either way…

      “Heads Government Almighty wins, tails you lose”.

  10. memo bro


    1. Signallers gotta signal…

    2. j-
      And thus is summed up everything we need to know about the author’s position.

  11. If Google was at fault, it is in pretending that it was interested in open dialogue and discussion without drawing clear limits in advance.

    This is a great argument. Google can fire anyone for whatever reason. But that doesn’t mean they get to do virtue signaling without the risk of being called out for the hypocrites that they are in reality.

  12. Entirely setting aside the involvement of Government Almighty, let’s see if we can draw up an analogy here, to show who is more-right and who is more-wrong… Crediting Shikha here with “both sides both right and wrong”; this is yea verily usually the case… But ALSO, usually one side IS more to be blamed than the other!

    The “flipped” picture would be, health-care nurses (still more female than male I am pretty sure) has a female nurse who speaks out, publishes a long memo, saying she would LOVE to see more male nurses in her work, but not enough men are choosing nursing as a career… And she offers up suggestions on how to deal with it, including the suggestion that “maybe we should let things just be as they are, a wee tad more; maybe men are just less disposed to working in nursing”. That is, maybe our out-reach efforts are a bit over-wrought and counter-productive, making female nurses feel less appreciated. … And she gets FIRED for offering up her thoughts!!!

    How now, brown cow?

  13. As far as being “right” to fire the guy, I’m in the camp of it’s their company, and unless he had a contract to the contrary, it’s none of my business.

    But I’m also in the camp of it being stupid to artificially narrowing your workforce like that, same as for not hiring blacks or women or Jews, and the more they do this, the more inefficient they will become, and the easier they make it for competitors to get a toehold in the marketplace.

    1. But I’m also in the camp of it being stupid to artificially narrowing your workforce like that,

      Narrow it how? Did they have an official hiring policy saying 90% white, 90% male? Are they supposed to throw money at people who will accept less? I thought they posted the requirements, the pay, and took all comers. Even if they did narrow their workforce, there’s plenty of evidence to suggests that federally run schools have been educating ~90% white, ~90% male CS classes for at least a decade. On top of that there’s plenty of evidence that the schools generating these CS demographics were under rather explicit and stringent constraints not to and/or that the demographics are organic or self-selecting.

      1. Don’t pretend to be so naive.

        Any time you restrict your choices for arbitrary reasons unrelated to your requirements, you increase the number of good choices you miss out on.

        Obviously, if you want to hire buxom waitresses or cast Othello, some limits are advisable. But most bigotry is just that — bigotry — and it does reduce your choices and make you more likely to be inefficient.

        Diversity, especially to the point of ideological or political or social conflict, can improve your organization in many other ways from the competition it encourages, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. Google and the college snowflakes go much too far in the direction of homogeneity, and it will hurt them in the long run.

        1. Don’t pretend to be so naive.

          Sorry, I misread “same as for not hiring blacks or women or Jews”. It made it seem like you were saying that Google deliberately tried to hire mostly white guys from the get go.

          1. Well! Thanks for clarifying why I didn’t explain that so well. Your unusual politeness in the face of my sarcasm is also to be applauded.

            I will try to keep that in mind, that I need to be much more specific, that pronouns are not as obviously related in reader minds as they are in the writer’s.

  14. memo bro

    Danielle Brown, Diversity Bitch.

    1. I checked with Ms. Brown, and she says that she feels more like a “Diversity Wench” than a “Diversity Bitch”.

      I just thought you’d like to know…

  15. I wonder what the racial and ethnic make up of any given Russian Hacker group is? I wonder if the former Soviet Union has policies that say they have to hire equal numbers of men and women for these positions and/or pay them the same?

    1. As an ancillary; Where did all the naturally/equally gifted and motivated female (and ethnic) coders go? Shouldn’t there be a business out there full of unprecedented levels of exceptional female (and ethnic) coders cranking out top-notch software? I presume they didn’t all decide it would be easier and more lucrative to shovel coal and/or raise kids than write code and work with white men.

      Maybe the mysterious Russian Hackers are a secret cabal of exceptional female/ethnic coders and the whole getting Trump elected thing was just a ruse?!?

  16. “Keeping him on would have made him a liability for Google’s recruitment efforts, which is why Google CEO Sundar Pichai was not simply succumbing to the PC mob in firing him (as many conservatives are accusing him of doing). How do you keep on the rolls a person who has alienated a chunk of his fellow workers?”

    How do you want to keep hiring persons who are “alienated” by reasoned debate?

    1. How do you keep on the rolls a person who has alienated a chunk of his fellow workers?

      Did a bunch of workers profess to being alienated or did a leaker tell a media outlet that the memo was alienating? Presumably the leaker, especially at this point, is as much on the hook as the author, right?

      Not that I’d want to see a crackdown on leakers within Google but, presumably, the leaker’s goal was social signalling and/or purging Google of this bigot, so mission achieved and equal (or proportional or whatever) punishment for equal (or proportional or whatever) alienation, right?

      I mean, otherwise, you’ve got a malfeasant in your rank with a proven record of leaking internal documents with their own slant to the media.

      1. Impossible to tell, at the moment. There’s selective violation of confidentiality by those working at Google and that’s coupled with selective reporting and interpreting. However, since some survey of 441 respondents at Google (not clear on the methodoly, I) says sth like 40% support the firing, I would say some feel “alienated”.

  17. Making socially obtuse male employees sensitive to what they might be doing to inadvertently turn women away is not exactly akin to sending them to Soviet re-education camp.

    No, but firing him and trying to make sure he never works again comes fairly close.

    But just because many women are more inclined toward non-tech fields doesn’t mean that tech companies such as Google shouldn’t make special efforts to pursue them.

    I don’t believe he argued against this. What he argued against is overt discrimination — using different standards for different groups.

    How do you keep on the rolls a person who has alienated a chunk of his fellow workers?

    It seems to me that other people alienated Damore and others like him, which is why he was driven to write that memo. Does that not matter?

  18. A large part of this is that Damore’s memo was maliciously misrepresented. He was defamed based on untruths about what he meant. If how his co-workers felt about those misrepresentations, does his firing help create or destroy a healthy work environment?

    How can anyone speak about any issue that might be taken as controversial?

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