James Damore Speaks to the Press — Sort Of

So what’s up with James Damore, the Google dude who wrote that diversity memo and then got fired? The New York Times had this yesterday:

“I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does,” Mr. Damore said.

That’s a strikingly precise phrase, isn’t it? And it just happens to be precisely one of the grounds for declaring a termination illegal. I don’t imagine most software engineers are aware of that. Then today the Guardian had this:

As mainstream journalists across the globe reached out to him for interviews this week, Damore largely ignored the queries and instead selected two rightwing YouTube personalities to make his first, expansive comments on the international firestorm he has ignited. Damore — who argued in his memo that “biological” differences between men and women contribute to the gender gap in the tech industry — gave lengthy video interviews to Stefan Molyneux and Jordan B Peterson, who both have large followings on YouTube and have espoused anti-feminist views.

Huh. It’s almost as if he’s more interested in stirring up the right than in facing even the most modest challenge. That’s a little odd considering what he told Peterson in his interview today. Here is Damore explaining why his memo suddenly went viral even though he wrote it a month ago after attending a Google diversity program:

I just wanted to clarify my thoughts on this, and I really just wanted to be proven wrong, because if what I was saying was right then something bad is happening. And so about a month ago I submitted feedback to that program. And I saw that people looked at it, but no one actually said anything.

….There’s a group at Google called Skeptics, and so I was like, maybe they’ll be able to prove me wrong in some way. They’re skeptical about things, right? I was naive, I guess. And so I sent them a message, like, OK, what do you think about this? Is Google in some sort of echo chamber, or am I in an echo chamber? And then it just exploded after that.

I dunno. Did Damore really write a lengthy paper just because he was hoping against hope that someone might tell him why he was wrong? Anything is possible. But if that was his goal, it’s peculiar that when he finally got some attention he did his best to avoid talking to anyone who might do exactly that.

All very strange, isn’t it?


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