I’ve reached a very important conclusion about white men, and I’ll get to that soon enough, but first, please repeat after me: Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.
Say it again. And again. And if you’re one of those aggrieved white guys out there harboring the odd misconception that your voice is being unfairly stifled by “political correctness,” say it 15 more times, because it just doesn’t seem like this concept has sunk in.
Consider this week’s firing of a white, male Google employee who published a 10-page memo about diversity on an internal company forum. The software engineer used 3,000-or-so wholly unnecessary words to claim that there are fewer women in the tech industry because of “biological causes” and that diversity programs “increase race and gender tensions.”
The memo is riddled with sexist stereotypes poorly supported by scientific references that are, at best, dodgy. And it contains repeated statements that the author is all for diversity, is not sexist and eschews stereotypes — statements proven false by the aforementioned poorly supported sexist stereotypes.
The engineer’s MANifesto also slams Google for not being a friendly place for conservatives, which is odd because conservatives spend a good bit of their time mocking the idea of safe spaces.
He writes: “Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require (sic) for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.”
So the dude who doesn’t believe in stereotypes claims conservatives are more conscientious than everyone else. Perfect.
If you care to read the full memo, you can find it online, though you’ll likely sprain an ocular muscle rolling your eyes.
My take — as a white, male who, for whatever reason, is not part of the aggrieved brommunity — is that the Google engineer’s word barf is insufferable, unquestionably insulting to women (and pretty much any non-white person) and the epitome of white, male privilege. And with all that said, he absolutely, without question, had every right in the world to write what he wrote.
Just like Google had every right to fire his white, male butt for, I assume, violating all manner of company standards and for just being an all-around turd. (I would’ve fired him just for thinking anyone would want to read a 10-page memo in the first place.)
There will surely be legal action, and maybe he’ll wind up prevailing. But Google was right to can him, and that canning isn’t an attempt to curtail his freedom of speech.
He can say or write whatever he wants. But the things he says and writes might come with consequences, particularly when he’s sharing his words on an internal company forum.
This isn’t a First Amendment issue. The government isn’t interfering with anybody’s right to free speech. Still, many white guys have rushed to the Google bro’s defense, crying about how put upon they are because they’re never allowed to speak their minds.
If you are a white guy in America, you are not put upon. And if you feel put upon, it’s because you can’t be bothered to put yourself in another person’s shoes for half a minute and try to understand what being put upon actually looks like.