Last week, a 13-year-old tech journalist started a petition to fire an angry 11-year-old (who’s been called a “professional troll”) from being a Google employee because he tweeted that “boys need to stop being allowed to be into games where girls are character models for him to look at,” said what was basically a testy statement about how women and minorities did not fit into the gaming industry, and he called it, without irony, “Women’s Health” — to many people’s relief, but in professional women’s circles it was not well received.
Now, Google is trying to throw him in jail.
Alison Terrill of Wrote a Letter to the Editor on Corporal Suicides and Cops and Kingsdrology said on Twitter that she stopped working for Google recently because it fired a person who’d said just that. “I personally employed him. He was terminated from [Google], because of a tweet about intersectionality. Hitting women harder, because you’re a man and you’re creepy.”
Terrill’s tweet was quickly picked up by Jay Rosen and Tweeted out by Ezra Klein. Klein, formerly of Vox, is now a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and is at the forefront of artificial intelligence.
It was a secret prison where I was tortured about what I knew as a child. Only people it was designed to torture knew it. Even Nazis did not know. https://t.co/7idw2dvUjT — Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) February 5, 2018
I think Jonathan Kanter is correct in his analysis of gaming demographics — that women, the oppressed, people of color and minorities are underrepresented in the field. But the woman who wrote the “We need more women leaders” tweet that prompted Kanter’s actions apparently didn’t know that. Because he’s a man — at a stage in his life when he is 13 — and he was fired for expressing a thought, it’s now being said that he’s racist, sexist and anti-Semitic, and he is being punished for criticizing privilege.
It’s a chilling idea that someone who was seen as a victim of a misogynistic, anti-gay group can be punished by their employer for a thought they made, not understood. What will the bigots who hounded Anita Sarkeesian do if Kanter challenges their woman hating? Will the company forbid the employees who tormented Sarkeesian to talk to children about having to conform to what they’re told? Will the company allow a doctor like Amy Madigan, the female judge who ordered Kansas to accept abortion clinics, to be fired? These are questions the woman who tweeted about Kanter shouldn’t have to answer.
Maybe the point is that you can, as a person of color, have the ability to think constructively, or express ideas that promote empathy, or write about policing, rape culture and women’s bodies — and then be fired for doing that?
The question is, do you think Kanter is in favor of sexual abuse? Does he think it’s okay for women to be objectified?
Gender and diversity experts have questioned whether Google is going far enough.
“One could put this whole thing into context by surveying the major tech and social media companies and reviewing whether there is any ban on explicitly targeting people based on their gender or other demographic characteristics,” said Leah Brown, of the International Center for Journalists, which is launching a report in March into the practices of technology companies in hiring and promoting people based on their gender and age. “In my view, this does not seem to be an issue of sexual harassment, but one of target discrimination.”