Opinion

The puerile bleating of James Damore

This guy is a real chucklehead

The 161-page class action lawsuit recently submitted to the clerk of court in Santa Clara County, California, alleging anti-white "discrimination" is easily the funniest thing you will read this week.

James Damore — he of the infamous "Google memo" that asserted that the gap in representation between men and women in the technology industry was due to biological differences — filed the suit along with one other named plaintiff and "on behalf of all others similarly situated." Surely Damore and his cohorts are just taking the piss.

This supposed petition, like the relentlessly creepy social media campaign its backers have waged since last August, is a piece of high-level trolling, a progressive answer to the infamous Sokal hoax. It's not quite as well done, unfortunately. Part of writing an effective parody is getting the tone just right without taking things too far. What experienced reader could believe that a sentence like this appeared in a serious legal complaint filed by adults with college degrees in a real-life justice-dispensing American court of law?

Google employees and managers strongly preferred to hear the same orthodox opinions regurgitated repeatedly, producing an ideological echo chamber, a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink. [Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara]

This is too perfect a specimen of #GamerGate online racist misogyny-bro English, the dialect I like to think of as Redditese. The authors' attempt to conjure up the atmosphere of mouth-breathing libertarian entitlement — in which commonly held standards of decency are "groupthink" and "orthodoxy" is a dirty word, where women exist for the sole purpose of having boobs in video games and, occasionally, in real life — is admirable but overdone. A real-life Damore would save this gibberish for the bitcoin forums and let his well-remunerated lawyers state his case plainly and on the ostensible merits.

Unfortunately, it would seem to be the case that Damore is for real. He really does believe that he was discriminated against because he is a white man. For a certain segment of the American adult male population between the ages of 14 and 40, in an online world in which a feminist author protesting PlayStation sexism is among the most pressing moral issues of our time and cryptocurrency is more real than Greece, Damore's fantasies are not only true but of world-historic importance.

The real story here is one that will be familiar to any American who has ever had a job: After a work-related event, Damore pissed off his boss and creeped out his coworkers. We've all known that guy. Holiday parties, training sessions, conferences, seminars — all of this is a yawn-inducingly integral part of working for a major corporation in the 21st century. You show up, you pretend to look interested, you find an excuse to step out for a cigarette at least twice, and you move on with your life. Maybe the "TGIF" presentation on women at Google was boring. Maybe his alt-right sensibilities were outraged by something a vice president said at the Diversity and Inclusion Summit in Mountain View. So what? Corporate faddishness is something we all put up with. You would think it's a pretty small price to pay for earning gobs of money to sit in front of a computer, but maybe that's just me.

What you don't do, and what Damore did, is to respond by distributing memos in which you calmly explain that your black and female coworkers are too dumb to be your colleagues and that the fact that they have jobs at your company in the first place is bad not only for you but for them. Never mind the racist and sexist premises here or even the questions of decency and propriety, which can only be politely ridiculous fictions for the libertarian mind — doing this is clearly not in your self-interest, pal, and you have no right to complain when you get canned for doing it.

The most amusing thing about the case is how it reveals the gaping lacuna in libertarian thinking. On paper, of course, Google is a mere association of free individuals, a corporation that should be absolutely at liberty to hire and fire as it likes for reasons far more ridiculous than the ones alleged by Damore. They wanted to get rid of him and they did. Case closed, right?

The truth is that none of us thinks of Google as just another business. The place it occupies in the public and private life of 21st-century America is unique; it is as ubiquitous as the Catholic Church in medieval France. Is it a problem that we let one company get this big and this powerful? Of course. Which is why the Justice Department should sue and regulate Google as we know it out of existence.

But these are serious questions about law and political economy that have nothing to do with Damore's lawsuit. Damore has a whole life ahead of him quasi-professionally decrying the baleful overrepresentation of women and people of color in the technology industry. He deserves none of our sympathy and as much of our ridicule as we can summon.

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