Faux Calls for Debate

Much has been written about that (sadly too common) “manifesto” from a Google employee. I’d chip in with a dissection of their claims about the biological capabilities of women, but I’ve already done so, multiple times. I also haven’t seen anyone bring up that women were essential to early computation, but again I’ve touched on that angle already.

So instead, I’ll settle for boosting one of the more interesting takes. Take it away, Dr. NerdLove.

This isn’t really about the memo itself but more in how people treat others, esp. other people who they fundamentally oppose.

First: the positioning oneself as being rational. In cases like this? It’s enshrining “This doesn’t affect me” as “value-neutral”.

It’s easy to say “This is is a topic that should be debated” when it’s not something that will touch you at all.

The superiority of Genesis vs Super Nintendo is a debate. EMACS vs [Vim] is a debate. Virtue of flat currency vs. fiat currency: debate.

“Your gender means that you’re biologically incapable of doing this job and should never have been hired” isn’t a fucking debate.

(Especially when it’s someone who doesn’t understand biology, gender roles, etc. saying this)

It’s easy for someone who has no skin in the game to say it should be “debated” because the outcome doesn’t affect them at *all*.

Let us also be real: this person doesn’t actually mean “debate”. Just as when eggs demand debate on Twitter, they don’t mean debate.

They aren’t asking for a structured discussion about whether someone has the biological capability to write code. They want to gish-gallop.

This isn’t going to be about changing minds or opinions. This is about playing to an audience and making enough noise to shut the others up.

This is why it’s so often framed as “if you won’t discuss this with me, your ideas are weak”. It’s about endurance and frustration.

In this case “whomever quits participating first” is framed as the “loser”. Not “there’s no point b/c this isn’t in good faith”.

These “debates” inevitably turn into goal-post shifts and fire-hose torrents of bullshit (gish-galloping) until the other person leaves.

Dr. NerdLove has more detail, but you get the basic gist: that manifesto isn’t calling for debate, any more than the creationists who make the same maneuver. This is about legitimizing a viewpoint that is illegit on its face, and hounding you until you pack up and leave. Don’t fall for it.