Tuesday, August 8, 2017

He’s Guilty. Guilty! GUILTY!

So. Who deserves to lose his job? The guy who writes themanifesto, or the gaggles of employees who privately and publicly agree with it?

I haven’t read the manifesto in question – written by Google Engineer James Damore who laments the diversity culture at Google. All I know is this:
  1. Damore wrote the manifesto
  2. Many at Google agreed with it
  3. Damore is the only one (so far) who got fired.
I’m not calling for a mass lopping of heads at Google, or in any other place where agreeing with a malcontent gets one fired.

I’m just thinking here: Why draw the line at firing Damore? He’s the author, yes. But where does the culpability stop? He wrote the manifest and assigned his name to it. But surely he received feedback from others, re-wrote sections, added things, deleted things at their behest. Are they too guilty? Or not?

Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf.”

Did those who read and applied what he wrote avoid punishment? (And yes, I just Godwined this post.)

What this may bean for Google, on the face of things: A clear line drawn in the sand that sexist talk isn’t welcome.

What it may mean for Damore and those who agree with him: Self-fulfilling prophecy that to even speak out against such things labels one as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker, worthy of being fired.

Now, I’m not arguing free speech or First Amendment, as this does not have anything to do with government.

Companies can and do have policies that outline what constitutes a firing offense. The companies I work for certainly do, and have exercised them in the past. And none of them have gone after those who associated with the offending matter.

One guy writes. One guy gets caught. One guy gets fired. But the feelings that germinated the manifesto are still there. Fomenting. With fresh fuel added to the fire.

Google could have talked with Damore. Tried to come up with a solution short o firing. And maybe they did talk with him, and nothing constructive came of it. We’ll never know.

Perhaps it’s a measure of the times we live in that we limit ourselves to beheadings rather than mass slaughters. It’s an orthodoxy that goes for the leadership, not the masses.
I hold no sympathy for Damore’s views, just so you know. I work in a technical field where a good 50% of my co-workers are women. They’re as likable, capable, skilled and talented as the men – and many of them (as are many of the men) are smarter than I am. 

There’s probably something twistable in my praise here, but you can’t satisfy all the pickers of nits.

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