Here we see James Damore, who had himself a sad little two-person protest at Google’s Mountain View headquarters Thursday afternoon. (Mr. “Fired for Truth,” of course, fudged the truth on his resume.) But yesterday was a whirlwind day in the Damore uproar, as the story of his viral anti-diversity screed that got him fired has gone from butthurt manbaby curiosity into a disturbing online bullying campaign of harassment against Google employees. Google had planned an all-company ‘town hall’ meeting yesterday to soothe concerns over the matter, but there was no soothing. Recode reports that CEO Sundar Pichai canceled the meeting as employees were being harassed and doxxed.
Googlers (Alphabetters?) were able to submit their town hall questions in advance via an internal system called Dory, but when staff’s names and questions started leaking to right-wing hate sites, Pichai called the meeting off less than an hour before it was supposed to begin. Wired obtained Pichai’s cancellation email, which is seen above. “TL;DR Sorry for the late notice but we are going to cancel today’s Town Hall,” the CEO wrote. “Our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally. Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”
Ironically, Pichai then addressed a young girls’ coding event Thursday evening, speaking to a crowd of teen and tween ladies who were finalists in an app-building competition. The Verge has the full text of Pichai’s remarks, which appear to be only about five minutes in length, but are symbolically quite significant given the timing. “To the girls who dream of being an engineer or an entrepreneur, and who dream of creating amazing things: I want you to know that there's a place for you in this industry, there's a place for you at Google,” Pichai told the girls. “Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here and we need you.”
Feeling uplifted? Let me completely demolish that sentiment with the news that trolls are organizing a March on Google next Saturday, a supposedly nationwide effort at all Google offices to stand up for the rights of men to openly criticize their female colleagues’ biological inadequacy. “Today, the March on Google was announced by Jack Posobiec and a coaltion [sic] of free speech activists around the United States,” the site says, clearly not having consulted spellcheck. “Organizers are reaching out to James Damore to invite him to speak as well as planning a ‘Google Meme Contest’.”
The March On Google website is quite a piece of work (check out their kick-ass home page!) and the comments, as you can imagine, reflect a mindset that assumes the Constitution guarantees white men the right to high-paying tech jobs. The spelling and punctuation in the comments are predictably awful, but the threats seem disturbingly real. “That ‘Report Your Coworkers’ meme is weapons-grade,” writes one commenter, sounding eager to harass. “Make that viral, and put posterboard-sized versions of it in the hands of marchers.”
And sure, we have had plenty of fun at Google’s expense on this site, but they’re in a pretty tricky and scary situation here. Their own tools are being used against them, as Damore is now doing interviews with alt-right YouTube stars perhaps indicating that he's enjoying his new fame at the expense of his critical thinking abilities. And they’re taking fire from both side on the gender equity front, being sued by the U.S. Department of Labor who allege that the company does not pay women equally compared to their male counterparts. But that concern might seem secondary right now, as this particular men’s rights brouhaha may soon spawn threats, violence, and workplace harassment on a whole other level.