William Saleton chimes in on the Google Memo controversy with The Conversation Google Killed.
It is an elegant, eloquent, highly educated, highly sophisticated instance of The Coddling of the American Mind; of “triggers,” and of the primacy of feelings over facts.
It is an obtuse, elitist, instance of killing the messenger.
Saleton is not saying Google was right. Note the title of the essay. He’s saying Google was wrong to fire Damore.
But he also says Damore wrong in at least two ways, and in so doing Saleton makes things worse, not better.
First, he says Damore’s writing and speaking style is unsophisticated, “ham handed.” Essentially, he says Damore should be more like Saleton; more like an erudite professor of literature.
Sorry Bill, but we can’t all write like Earnest Hemingway and speak extemporaneously with the suave, glib, skill of JFK.
Second, he says Damore should have been more circumspect; more aware of and sensitive to how people might react. Saleton doesn’t use the phrase “sacred values” but in essence he says Damore should have known that his memo violates some sacred values, and therefore he should have been more sensitive and nice. Damore should have known that people don’t do active listening; they don’t try to hear what one actually says and means. Rather, they listen for “stereotypes” they dislike, e.g. women aren’t as smart as men, and pounce on those rather than on the actual content of the memo.
Saleton in his essay is doing two things.
First, he’s validating the concept of “triggers.” He calls them “sterotypes,” but his meaning is clear. Don’t “trigger” people.
Second, he’s validating infantile emotional reasoning of the type described in Coddling. He’s saying feelings trump facts. He’s saying “don’t speak in terms of facts and logic because people might be upset.”
The whole thing is specious. Thinking like Saleton’s IS THE PROBLEM!