When Google fired James Damore, they were acting like that macho guy who thinks he has been insulted and chooses to pick a fight. (“What did you just say? Ideological echo chamber?”) They chose confrontation where none was required.
Instead of firing Damore, Google could have said something along the lines of “we are happy that Damore supports our goal of increased diversity, and we will consider his proposals”. Or, to be a litte less positive and avoid the risk of being identified with the memo as a whole, they could have prefaced that statement with “While we disagree with Damore’s analysis..” Instead they chose to fire him, claiming that he had advanced “harmful gender stereotypes”.
So Google could have chosen to defuse the conflict, but chose instead to escalate it. And that is my main point: We have choices about how to interpret other people’s communications and how to respond. We can choose to emphasize the parts of it that we disagree with or the ones we agree with. We can also choose to some extent what we read between the lines, since implicit messages are characteristically ambiguous. We can choose whether to consider the other person innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent.
How I wish I were a Nobel laureate, and preferably a real one. That’s the thought that runs through my head as I witness the altercation between Paul Krugman and Mark Steyn.
Background: Climate scientist Michael Mann, famous as the main brain behind the so-called hockey stick, has sued Mark Steyn. Steyn sums it up thus:
In 2012, Mann, the inventor of the global-warming “hockey stick”, decided to sue me, National Review, Rand Simberg and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, for calling his stick “fraudulent” and deriding his “exoneration” by the same Penn State administration that covered up for Jerry Sandusky.
Krugman is sure Mann is right and Steyn is wrong and tries to come to Mann’s rescue. He invokes the mighty Google to emphasize his belief that Steyn is clueless, hopeless and pathetic:
Now for the slightly encouraging news: Mann filed suit against National Review for defamation. Also encouraging is the evident inability of NR to understand how you defend against a charge of defamation. You don’t repeat the false allegations — sorry, guys, but courts also have access to Google and Nexis, and can find that all the charges have been rejected in repeated inquiries.
A lizard. Any resemblance to a person named in this post is purely coincidental.