by WorldTribune Staff, May 24, 2019
A Google software engineer, who is also a Republican, says the company’s culture has become dominated by “outrage mobs” and “witch hunts” which have became an “existential threat not only to Google’s culture internally, but to Google’s trust and credibility externally.”
Writing for Medium.com on May 21, Mike Wacker cited human resources counseling Google employees who complained about the sharing of a link to a National Review article, outrage over an employee’s professed admiration for Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, and Wacker’s own experience with outrage mobs after he started a republicans@ list for other like-minded employees.
“If left unchecked, these outrage mobs will hunt down any conservative, any Christian, and any independent free thinker at Google who does not bow down to their agenda,” Wacker wrote. “Anyone who stands up to them will be hounded until they either shut the f–k up or they ‘get the f–k out.’ Furthermore, Google HR has clearly shown that they function as an accessory to these witch hunts.”
Google “has long claimed to be a nonpartisan company, yet like many other tech companies, they also maintain many policies against ‘hate speech,’ ” Wacker wrote.
“So what exactly is the definition of hate speech? Well, let’s just ask the outrage mobs at Google that succeeded. One outrage mob formed when Google sponsored CPAC, and they created an internal petition titled, ‘Google, Don’t Sponsor Hate.’ Another outrage mob formed when Kay Coles James, President of the Heritage Foundation, was appointed to an AI ethics panel, and they created an external petition from a Medium account called ‘Googlers Against Transphobia and Hate.’ ”
These outrage mobs, Wacker notes, “are not opposed to all conservatives. They are only opposed to the ‘hateful’ conservatives.”
“While some of their rhetoric is so outlandish that you have no choice but to laugh it, the psychological effects that these outrage mobs have on their targets is nothing to laugh about,” Wacker wrote.
Wacker cited an excerpt from Kay Coles James about her own experience with Google’s outrage mob:
“In 1961, at age 12, I was one of two-dozen black children who integrated an all-white junior high school in Richmond. White parents jeered me outside the school, and inside, their kids stuck me with pins, shoved me in the halls and pushed me down the stairs. So when the group of Google employees resorted to calling names and making false accusations because they didn’t want a conservative voice advising the company, the hostility was reminiscent of what I felt back then — that same intolerance for someone who was different from them.”
Wacker noted that “I won’t lie, that was a tough part to read. But if you ask the outrage mob, that wasn’t the real problem.”
The real question was this: “So the real question to this is whether or not we think there’s value in having the Grand Wizard of the KKK on this board.”
Wacker wrote: “What sort of alternate universe do you have to live in to think this sort of rhetoric is OK? And what sort of alternative universe do you have to live in where you would turn a blind eye to that rhetoric?”
The outrage mobs and witch hunts “don’t just target outsiders like CPAC and Kay Coles James,” Wacker noted. “They also target insiders and Google’s own employees. But whether the target is external or internal, the goal of these outrage mobs and witch hunts is the same: to control who belongs at Google.
“More importantly, if you can control who belongs at Google, then you can also control what content belongs on Google.
“If the people who work at Google — or who feel psychologically safe expressing their opinions at Google — are only the ones who think that CPAC and Kay Coles James are hateful, then don’t be surprised if, one day in the future, hate speech is used as a pretext to censor CPAC or Kay Coles James and remove their content from Google’s platforms.”
Internally, human resources wields incredible power at Google, Wacker noted.
Recently, the Lincoln Network released its 2019 Viewpoint Inclusion Survey Report, and Wacker cited a pull quote from the survey which he directly captures the Google human resources experience:
“CONSERVATIVE — Employees will interpret your words in the most offensive way possible, then report you to HR based on that interpretation. It’s one big offendedness sweepstakes. When people get in trouble, it’s often based not on what they said, but on how others interpreted their words, regardless of how unreasonable that interpretation is. And there is some evidence HR does have a political agenda. I’ve even seen someone get reported to HR for sharing a National Review article.”
Wacker also noted that Google employees “are still free to espouse pro-life views so long as activists don’t perceive those views to be hateful, incendiary, or inflammatory. Just remember that some of these activists also think that women can’t be expected to work at Google if it donates to groups that espouse pro-life views.”
A Google employee who gave Wacker permission to share his story, “was once hauled into a meeting with management and HR over some of his writings on company message boards. He was not directly punished in that meeting, but the meeting did carry a strong implied threat of future punishment.”
One of the issues that was mentioned to the employee in writing after the meeting: “One Googler raised a concern that you appeared to be promoting and defending Jordan Peterson’s comments about transgender pronouns, and this made them feel unsafe at work.”
Wacker noted that “Allegedly, Google is a company that supports a freedom of expression, but Google is also a company where you can get in trouble with HR for defending Jordan Peterson’s stance that the government cannot compel speech, including compelling the usage of preferred pronouns.”
In October 2016, Wacker created the republicans@ mailing list in an effort, he said, “to create a community for Republicans at Google and help make the company a little more friendlier for Republicans.”
Wacker wrote: “My role as the republicans@ owner has also made me a prime target for the outrage mobs and witch hunts. On March 6, 2019, I was pulled into a meeting of my own with my management and HR. During that meeting, I received a final written warning, and I received a verbal offer of 8 weeks of severance pay if I left the company. That verbal offer of severance was an implied threat of termination. While they never said it explicitly, it was clear that if I didn’t take that offer, they would invent some pretext to fire me shortly thereafter.”