Opinion

Google memo message : No dissenting views welcome?

To the editor: How ironic that an ardent defender of free speech — Google — fires an employee for speaking out and circulating a position on Google’s corporate employment practices different from the corporate model.

(Re “Sexist memo a new blemish on diversity in tech, “ Aug. 8, “Free speech limit seen in Google case, ’’ Business, Aug. 9 and “How effective is diversity and bias training?” Business, Aug. 10)

In fact, I strongly suspect that the employee’s memo will have a very beneficial effect on women’s rights in the workplace by starting an active and public debate on the issues the employee has raised.

I am sure many, like me, strongly disagree with the viewpoint of the memo writer. But, as the saying goes: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Ken Goldman, Beverly Hills

To the editor: Obviously, Google's idea of diversity doesn't include allowing an opinion diverse from its own.

This is not diversity. It is censorship, and this particular act of censorship is giving the author's views more attention.

Google should allow the opinion to live or die on its own. Think outside the box? I guess they meant somebody else's box.

Don Tonty, Los Angeles

To the editor: I don't want to get caught up in the debate about diversity in technology so much as to comment about how debates are conducted these days. This one follows a very familiar pattern.

Someone publishes opinions that differ from some orthodoxy or another, so they're subjected to a firestorm in both social and regular media with the result that they're forced out of their job. So much for free speech.

I actually read James Damore's paper when it first appeared. I don't necessarily agree with his conclusions, but I can't complain about the way they're presented — the paper was well thought out and respectfully presented.

Martin Usher, Thousand Oaks

To the editor: If female "weaknesses" such as compassion and generosity were universally considered more valuable than the ability to intimidate, the world would be a much different place.

An inclusive question that a female supervisor might ask such as "what do you think we should do?" elevates the caliber of a work environment to one of mutual respect, as opposed to a male-dominated arena in which "competitors" are considered a threat whose efforts must be sabotaged.

Elbowing others out of the way and covering for underperforming buddies (rather than focusing on excellence) are elements of a dysfunctional male culture, as evidenced by our current administration.

Jennifer Rabuchin, Burbank

To the editor: So an employee writes that Google imposes groupthink and does not welcome dissenting viewpoints. Google fires him. Point proved.

Mitchell Keiter, Beverly Hills

To the editor: Google employee James Damore apparently uses company time and assets to publish a manifesto claiming women are an inferior species that do not belong in his work space and then complains about being fired for expressing his thoughts. That's chutzpah on steroids.

He just told his company that could not trust the work product of co-employees if they happen to be female. Does he believe that Google's response to his behavior would be any different if said he could not be compatible with black or Jewish co-employees?

Frank Ferrone, El Cajon

To the editor: Most assuredly, James Damore's memo was replete with bias and displayed a glaring lack of judgment, especially in 2017.

But is Google any less culpable in its firing of Damore? Our world is imperfect, peopled by insensitive and mean-spirited individuals. As a person of color, I was subjected to racial barbs, slurs and stupid comments.

The great majority of the tech world's hires are some of our country's best and brightest, and hopefully, they are capable of winnowing the chaff from the grain. We cannot live in glass bubbles. Do we really expect that we can be protected, insulated and sanitized from every word that hurts us?

If Damore had been allowed to stay on his job, he would most assuredly be a pariah and naturally would have been ostracized and excluded by his co-workers. Let him suffer whatever social consequences his actions precipitated.

Google was placed in a truly difficult situation; whatever course of action it chose would be condemned.

The content of Damore's memo is ugly and reprehensible, but does expression of an unpopular thought automatically violate a code of conduct?

Steve Sato, Torrance

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