6
   

White Women vs Free Speech: And Google is going to get sued.

 
 
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 05:47 pm
Google provides a forum where Google employees can post their ideas (presumably with a feeling of safety). A Google Engineer made a post called (ironically) "Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber".

The memo is here. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.pdf

There is plenty in this memo with which I do not agree. But he makes good points in his discussion about how Google's policies are driven by political considerations, and how this can backfire. However, to make this argument he argues that men and women, when viewed as general populations, have different ability and drives.

And so, the "Ideological Echo Chamber" fires the guy.

He has already said he is going to sue Google for wrongful termination. After reading the analyses, it seems to me that he has a good chance of winning a suit that is based on California labor law which says you can't sue an employee for political beliefs.

I am very sure that this will never go to trial... Google isn't dumb. They will settle out of court, and this guy will silently take a large sum of money in return for his silence on the matter.

But the main problem is the stifling of political views, now by employers. This guy didn't really threaten anyone. He didn't even come close to saying that Google shouldn't hire female engineers. He was questioning a set of Google policies on the whole. You may not agree with this point of view, but a company or society that stamps out this point of view can't then say it values "diversity".

In the US, it is the liberal side of the political divide that is trying to silence entire points of view rather than arguing them. They want anyone who expresses certain ideas to be punished, fired, banned from campuses.

I am a liberal... and were I at Google, I would likely argue back against this guy. I favor affirmative action programs, and yet I want them to be questioned and I want any organization to consider the costs.

The fact that Google is now pushed to fire people for expressing a rather mild opinion is a cause for concern.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 8,304 • Replies: 263

 
emmett grogan
 
  7  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 05:58 pm
His argument seems to be: a multicultural work force is non inclusive but hiring more conservative white guys will somehow broaden employee diversity.

I say Bullshit.
maxdancona
 
  -4  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 06:09 pm
@emmett grogan,
I don't think that is what he was saying from the memo (I am assuming you read it in its entirety with an open mind). And you can say "bullshit" without demanding that he be fired.

The chilling part of this story is the way that people with unpopular opinions are being forced out of employment and pushed out of public life. Whether or not you agree with these unpopular opinions is not really relevant.
emmett grogan
 
  5  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 06:52 pm
@maxdancona,
His opinion is his opinion. Arguing it outside of the forum he placed it on, say verbally in the break room, would be at the very least trollish behavior and just might constitute a legitimate reason for dismissal.
maxdancona
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 07:34 pm
@emmett grogan,
This guy was fired for expressing an opinion about Google policy. It was a political opinion which probably makes it illegal under California employment law. You can't fire someone for a political opinion.

Let's consider this in the terms of employment law the rights of a company to control employee speech. And there is a question of where the line is...

There are some things that clearly would be grounds for dismissal; if he said that women shouldn't be engineers, it would be hard to protect him. He didn't say anything close to that.

He was basically arguing that some Google policies were unfair and counterproductive. Yes, he made an argument that offends some people that as general populations women and men are different (not individually, but considered as a whole). But this is an argument against policy, not against individuals.

Here is the case a lawsuit, particularly under California law. You can't have an employer take sides in political opinions. An employer can't decide that one opinion is offensive while ignoring other opinions that offend other employees. If you allow political opinions to be expressed, and especially if you provide a forum where political opinions can be expressed, than there is a implicit understanding that there is freedom and security.

I will point out that there have been several scientific studies showing that women (viewed as a group) tend to do better than men at several mental tasks, such as multitasking. No one found these studies particularly offensive, and I am going to bet that no one would be fired from Google for expressing the opinion that women are better at certain tasks than men.

Finally, there is a certain expectation that people can deal with differences of opinion and still work together without anyone getting fired. I feel passionately about Immigration (as anyone here knows) and I speak Spanish. I have a co-worker, a Trump supporter, who wants to build a wall and who has told me that people should speak English in any official capacity.

Guess what. I not only am able to work with this gentleman, I talk to him at lunch, and I would be very upset were he fired.

The left is ruled by the idea that disagreement is hate speech, and that people with wrong ideas must be fired, banned from campuses and in general shut out from public life. This is a dangerous idea.
PUNKEY
 
  5  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 08:04 pm
"What do you think?" can be a very dangerous question.
0 Replies
 
emmett grogan
 
  6  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 08:46 pm
@maxdancona,
He hasn't been fired and free speech that causes "a hostile work environment" is not protected speech. Political speech that is hate speech is not protected speech.
maxdancona
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 09:31 pm
@emmett grogan,
He has been fired according to all the news reports I have seen. And there will be a lawsuit. I am quite sure that Google will settle (they aren't dumb) and part of the settlement will be that he is silent, but he will get a nice fat sum of cash.

The question is what constitutes a "hostile work environment"?

The word "hostile" is subjective, of course, if a co-worker tells me that women are better at multitasking, or that women are better managers (both of which I have heard) I don't feel that this is "hostile". Allowing an employer to define which opinions are "hostile" and which aren't provides an unfair workplace

What would prevent an employer from deciding that expressing support for abortion rights is "hostile" to religious workers? This is a mechanism for stifling political opinions, especially if it is applied unfairly.

What this guy did is publish his opinions about certain Google programs that he thought were unfair and counterproductive. In making this argument, he made some sweeping generalizations of men and women, but he made it very clear that he was talking about trends over large populations. I don't think it is at all clear that this constitutes "hostility".

The definition of "hostile work environment" would be part of any court case. Of course, if I am correct, this court case will never take place. Google isn't stupid. They will pay out.


maxdancona
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2017 10:35 pm
@emmett grogan,
Quote:
Political speech that is hate speech is not protected speech.


Can you explain what you mean by this. If you are talking about the First Amendment you are factually incorrect. Hate Speech is absolutely protected under the First Amendment. Of course, this case is a matter of employment law. The question is under what conditions can an employer fire an employee based on views expressed in a public forum.

If an employer fires someone for expressing a view that you agree with... do you accept this, or do you feel the employer is acting inappropriately.

I think my hypothetical of someone being fired for supporting abortion rights is valid. Would you object in this case?

emmett grogan
 
  4  
Reply Wed 9 Aug, 2017 02:34 pm
@maxdancona,
You're right, he was fired for engaging in behavior that ran counter to atmosphere his employer wishes to foster and to the furtherance of which the employee signed onto literally with his signature on his employment contract.

Frankly I'm surprised with you're backing an employee against a corporation, after all "corporations are people, too". One might even point out that if he had had a union someone would be trying to see to his rights right now.

I'm not cool with the firing but I certainly understand why he was. Sadly I think there was a teachable moment here and I truly believe empathy can be taught.

Take his screed and replace every reference to women as a class and replace it with "African American" and see if you can't get it yet.
0 Replies
 
emmett grogan
 
  5  
Reply Wed 9 Aug, 2017 02:48 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
Can you explain what you mean by this.


"Elect me and I will turn troops out into the streets to gather up every white male over 40 and deport the ones we don't shoot down in the streets. The Federal government has no right to interfere with our sheriffs gathering these welfare sucking dog rapists and doing what needs to be done. On your way home from this meeting see if you can't run a few down in the streets and send them all a message!"
ossobucotemp
 
  6  
Reply Wed 9 Aug, 2017 03:10 pm
So far, I see both, or more than both, sides to this. I read fast yesterday and want to consider it all again. I'm a white woman who was one of only three of us who were in a large science class (say, 200), back in the early sixties. But I've also owned businesses or been part of others' businesses, and think I understand the Google stance.

I could go on about knowing several very smart female scientists, but I also know lots of women are just not that interested in the details. I think that, while interesting in itself re the nature and abilities of men and women, and their access to work, I take that as as a red herring when the question is really about the guy's firing.
maxdancona
 
  -3  
Reply Wed 9 Aug, 2017 07:02 pm
@ossobucotemp,
The Google stance? Google has no stance. I don't think that Google is being noble here. They are reading the tea leaves (and I think they are reading them correctly). When this broke... I think Google said "oh ****, what can we do that will cost the least".

There is an obvious political calculus here. Scandals cost money and market share and Google decided to placate this one as quickly as possible. They figured that at worst, it will cost them a million or two to make this all go away.

They will settle out of court. If you think that Google actually cares about this ideological battle... you are awfully naive. Google doesn't do this outreach to feminist ideology because they think it is good for business, or that they care about diversity.

They do it for good PR, and it is worth every penny. The problem here is that they fired an employee for expressing the wrong opinions... there are labor laws to protect employees. Whether California labor laws protect this particularly employees would remain to be seen... but as I keep saying, it will never get to this point. Google will pay to make this go away.
ossobucotemp
 
  5  
Reply Wed 9 Aug, 2017 07:14 pm
@maxdancona,
I'll have to hunt for the Google quote, but I'm not in the mood. Placation sure was going on, but I could see their view. I read the guy, fast, as I already said, and he too said he wanted to have more women in the field.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  5  
Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2017 01:31 am
@emmett grogan,
This is just the latest in a long line of threads started by Max about how hard it is to be Max because women are such bullies.

All Max has is his white male privilege, events like this terrify him. He's like the wicked witch in the Wizard Of Oz stuck under a dripping tap. Everything he is is melting away and there's nothing he can do about it. Expect more hysterical misogynistic rants anytime soon.

Btw, belated welcome to A2K, you've certainly got the measure of a lot of the idiots on here.
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2017 06:00 am
@izzythepush,
Oh Good! Izzy is here. He always makes me smile. He seems to like me too... he follows me around like an angry puppy.

He will help me make my point, as he often does. The main point that James Damore was making was about the "Ideological Echo Chamber".

1. The main issue is whether Google has a moral or legal right to fire an employee based on the opinions he expressed. There is legitimate discussion about what constitutes a "hostile" work environment and whether this crossed the line. Obviously there are different opinions on this which Emmet, Osso and I were all able to discuss intelligently.

2. Izzy, rather than this discussion writes a series of personal attacks without addressing any of the issues. His argument is that I am "terrified", "like the wicked witch", "hyserical", "mysogynistic", an "idiot". He makes no argument, just an emotional outburst against someone with the "wrong" opinion.

This is the problem with the Ideological Echo Chamber in which Izzy, and many of the people attacking the Google Engineer, live. They can't accept a difference of opinion. Rather than a discussion or a debate, people who are wrong are shut down with strings of insults and sometimes worse.

This guy was fired for his opinion, and many people are calling for his head. Izzy illustrates this point nicely... an emotional ad hominem attack from someone who can't accept any diversity of opinion.

emmett grogan
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2017 09:08 am
@izzythepush,
Thankyou. The Brits here seem to on top of the mess here.
izzythepush
 
  5  
Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2017 09:10 am
@emmett grogan,
That's very kind of you to say so. Unfortunately Despicable May has tied herself to Trump, so whatever **** creek Trump decides to sail America up, we'll probably be close behind.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2017 09:15 am
@emmett grogan,
emmett grogan wrote:

Thankyou. The Brits here seem to on top of the mess here.


I am disappointed in you Emmett, it seemed like you were at least a little willing to step out of your ideological bubble. The question is how do you choose to handle a difference of opinion; you can either discuss differences in a reasonable way, or you can attack people who disagree with you. Supporting Izzy's string of ad hominems and personal attacks doesn't suggest that you are willing to think critically or consider more than one side of the issue.

Ideologically based attacks are easy, any time you are confronted with an argument that challenges your beliefs, you can simply attack the people. Whether they have a reasonable argument or not doesn't matter.

However, now in the US, we have a two political camps that are just shouting at each other. On one side are ideological liberals who are waging a campaign to slander and silence any belief that they feel is threatening. On the other side are ideological conservatives who pretty much do the same thing. Facts don't matter to either side, it is all about ideology.

The liberal side in the US refuses to understand that a lot of what they are pushing doesn't make too much sense to people outside their political bubble. And that is why they keep losing elections.


emmett grogan
 
  4  
Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2017 09:36 am
@maxdancona,
In case Izzy doesn't want to handle small beans:

Quote:

1. The main issue is whether Google has a moral or legal right to fire an employee based on the opinions he expressed. There is legitimate discussion about what constitutes a "hostile" work environment and whether this crossed the line. Obviously there are different opinions on this which Emmet, Osso and I were all able to discuss intelligently.


Morals aside because they are only germane personally, Google has the legal right to fire the engineer because Google set their standards for employment in the contract between both parties and the engineer breached his contract with his post on a Google forum. Break your contract here with intemperate speech at A2K and I bet arguing "free speech" will get you nowhere.

Ironically you do argue his firing was the result of a hostile workplace when the posting the engineer made was a hostile act.

Quote:


2. Izzy, rather than this discussion writes a series of personal attacks without addressing any of the issues. His argument is that I am "terrified", "like the wicked witch", "hyserical", "mysogynistic", an "idiot". He makes no argument, just an emotional outburst against someone with the "wrong" opinion.

This is the problem with the Ideological Echo Chamber in which Izzy, and many of the people attacking the Google Engineer, live. They can't accept a difference of opinion. Rather than a discussion or a debate, people who are wrong are shut down with strings of insults and sometimes worse.

This guy was fired for his opinion, and many people are calling for his head. Izzy illustrates this point nicely... an emotional ad hominem attack from someone who can't accept any diversity of opinion.


Where to start. Izzy's comments were to me and not about article.

Why do you think Izzy's echo chamber is more significant that the echo chamber of the alt-right you and the engineer re-echo? Why do you think the engineer has the right to his choice of environment but that Google and the rest of their employees don't? What's keeping the engineer from working with a company that has the internal environment he likes ie: Fox News?

The guy was not fired for his opinion. He was fired airing his opinion in an inappropriate venue and trying to create a hostile environment at Google in the name of free speech.

He made his speech freely. He did that under the Constitution. Unfortunately he practiced it without regard to his employment contract that was explicit and that he signed. He was not fired for his free speech, he fired for breaking the terms of his employment by hostile remarks he made in a company organ.

Both you and he need to learn what free speech is (speech made without prior restraint) and what protected speech is (free speech made without violating the rule of law}.

Look up "yelling fire in crowded theater".
 

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