Technology × Freedom

James Damore and His Anti-Diversity Manifesto Ignites Alt-Tech

August 11, 2017 nitsuj

Kevin Roose, writing for The New York Times, on the growing backlash against Silicon Valley technology companies that the firing of Googler James Damore has punctuated:

For the last several months, far-right activists have mounted an aggressive political campaign against some of Silicon Valley’s biggest players. Extending their attacks beyond social networks like Facebook and Twitter, tech’s typical free-speech battlegrounds, they have accused a long list of companies, including Airbnb, PayPal and Patreon, of censoring right-wing views, and have pledged to expose Silicon Valley for what they say is a pervasive, industrywide liberal bias.

The rise of “alt-tech” – a term I like in that it easily categorized alternative, freedom-valuing technology, even at the expense of being too closely associated with the alt-right – has been happening for some time now, but was missing the match to light the whole movement on fire. It certainly appears that they’ve found their fire starter in James Damore.

While we are not alt-right at this site, there are a few areas where our opinions overlap, including our disdain for censorship in the name of political correctness. As such, I’m thrilled that this drama has people talking about alternatives like Hatreon, Gab, and RootBocks, all of which are mentioned by Roose. These services provide a vital opt-out from the increasingly hostile agenda mainstream technology companies are pushing through their policies and services.

It’s a tech company’s right, of course, to bar whomever it wishes. The First Amendment, often cited by right-wing activists as a bulwark against censorship, does not apply to the activities of companies, and tech companies almost always have terms in the fine print that give them the right to cut off access to users for any reason.

Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing to see a company that once hosted Ron Paul move so far in the opposite direction publicly.