On January 8th, 2018, former Google employee James Damore filed a discrimination lawsuit against the tech giant. Damore made national headlines last year after he released the Google Memo. In the memo, Damore alleged that Google has shunned ideas that disrupt their leftist narrative. Google fired Damore for drafting this now infamous memo. The lawsuit lists Google’s discrimination against white conservative men as a violation of Damore’s rights. Despite the outright immorality of Google’s anti-freedom bias, James Damore is wrong to sue.
Ultimately, James Damore will only damage freedom if he wins this lawsuit. Assuming the judge sides with him, Damore will only expand the scope of forced association in the United States. While it is perfectly reasonable to boycott and publicly shame Google, no libertarian should support James Damore in this lawsuit.
Google Has the Right to Discriminate
While the State may infringe upon this, Google has the natural right to discriminate. In the same way that a Christian baker has the natural right to refuse to cater a gay wedding, so too does Google have the right to discriminate against conservatives, whites, and men. James Damore is correct in saying Google has a bias against conservatives and libertarians, but that does not mean we ought to force Google to hire us.
Google is private property. Therefore, the owners of Google have the right to exclude anyone they wish for any reason. This is the natural law, no matter what a man-made piece of legislation says. This is a classic example of a “Bake the Cake” scenario. If you side with James Damore in this lawsuit, you are siding against private property rights. You are begging for the coercive State to use violence to halt peaceful behavior.
A Win For Google Will Set the Precedent for Freedom
A short-run win for Google will lead to a short-run and long-run expansion of freedom. Since 1964, the State has forbidden the people from exercising their right to discriminate. While the State generally recognizes the right to association, they seem to outright reject the right to disassociation. Under current conditions, the State will readily force businesses to hire and/or serve people whom they would rather avoid. This is due to the precedent of Public Accommodation the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sets forth. If the courts rule in favor of Google, the precedent that will ultimately rid the US of these anti-freedom public accommodation laws is born.
Since this result may come with the defeat of James Damore, it is actually a good thing Damore sued Google (assuming he loses, which he probably will). If Damore wins, however, you lost a little more freedom. Currently, political ideology is not a federally protected class. Since America is a Common Law society, a court-case can alter, abolish, or even create legislation. If Damore wins, a business will not be allowed to hire or fire based on political ideology. If Google wins, however, there is precedent to end laws that force association.
Libertarians and conservatives have mixed views on James Damore. While the consensus is that Google had the right to fire him, many are defending Damore’s decision to sue. What follows are my answers to the objections set forth by people who hope Damore wins this lawsuit.
Google Receives Public Funds, and Should Therefore be Bound by the First Amendment
While it is true that Google does receive corporate welfare, this is not an excuse to use the State to regulate Google’s behavior. Rather than calling for the State to penalize or fine Google, libertarians should call for the revocation of Google’s corporate welfare (and the elimination of all corporate welfare, for that matter).
Perhaps the most egregious solution to this problem is the nationalization of Google. While Google does receive corporate welfare, it is vastly private. To hand over such a massive outlet to the government would immensely expand the power of the State. Libertarians should never advocate increased power to the State.
Rather than advocate for an increase in government overreach, libertarians ought to work toward the abolition of corporate welfare. In addition, libertarians ought to avoid patronizing Google by any means possible. Libertarians should know more than anyone else that boycotts will regulate business behavior through the free market in a much more effective way than the coercive measure James Damore has opted to pursue.
Since Non-Discrimination Is the Law, It Should Be Universally Enforced
Since the top tax bracket in the US is 37%, should every American be taxed at 37%? Obviously not. Every human being has equal rights, but equal tyranny is not the solution to injustice. Just because the law forbids hiring discrimination, that does not mean libertarians should encourage the State to enforce this law. Rather, we ought to compel the State to stop enforcing this law. Although the total abolition of this unjust law is ideal, it is not possible in the status quo. Therefore, libertarians should stop the growth of regulation and support exceptions to unjust laws.
On a more extreme note, think of an escaped slave living in the 1850s. Should an abolitionist comply with the Fugitive Slave Act and return the slave to his master? Of course not. While the goal of an abolitionist is the total end of slavery, an abolitionist should celebrate every time someone escapes such an injustice. This is the same logic for every other invasion of liberty. If Google asserts their property rights, good! Suppose the rich get a tax cut, also good! If the poor get a tax cut, awesome! No matter what, libertarians ought to celebrate expansions of freedom and encourage further expansions.
Since Leftists Support Non-Discrimination, They Should be Forced to Obey It
This is childish. If you fight fire with fire, you’ll only get burned. This logic backfires very quickly, especially in politics. If the State forces Google to hire conservatives, it’s only a matter of time until they force conservatives and libertarians to hire leftists. If you want liberty, the only way to do that is to stop the growth of tyranny. Forcing a leftist to serve you only empowers the State.
Rather than using the State to violate the private property rights of those who disagree with us, we should defend our own rights. If a Leftist comes after you for asserting your property rights, public shaming and self-defense is a much more practical and principled strategy than forcing the leftist to join you in misery. By promoting private property and non-aggression, we will create a more free world in which self-ownership is actually respected.
Libertarianism is not a philosophy that allows you to use the coercive State against your foes. It is a philosophy dedicated to private solutions. Conservatives and Libertarians are better than this.
How Should Libertarians Handle This Ordeal?
Since James Damore has chosen to attempt to use the State to violate the property rights of Google, libertarians must defend the rights of the tech giant. Despite supporting Google legally, we ought to condemn them morally. James Damore is right. Google is an incredibly biased organization with a disdain for western civilization and the liberty that is implicit with such a civilization. Libertarians ought to condemn the beliefs of Google.
Libertarians can disagree with someone without initiating force. If one supports libertarian ethics, one must support the property rights of Google. This doesn’t mean we ought to patronize this organization, however. Libertarians should boycott Google at every opportunity. Since they hate us so much, we should not patronize them. Why would I take my associate myself with people who hate me because of immutable characteristics? I wouldn’t. I would disassociate.
So ultimately, libertarians ought to use capitalism against Google. Use a competitor such as DuckDuckGo. This does not mean we should abandon all policy options, of course. If one can find a way to eliminate Google’s corporate welfare (and any additional government spending), we ought to support that.
Let me be clear, Google’s beliefs are morally reprehensible, but so is employing a coercive entity against them. It is the libertarian’s duty to support private property and seek non-aggressive solutions to social problems. This is how a libertarian should handle Damore V. Google.