Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Putting One's Money Where One's Mouth Is

In the wake of the Indiana passage of their Religious Freedom Restoration Act a lot of Very Important People have rushed to deplore Indiana's attempt to protect its citizens' religious liberties. Their concern, of course, is that the law gives businesspersons the right to refuse service to gays and others. One of the most outspoken was Apple CEO Tim Cook, who, according to blogger John Hawkins at RWN, proudly announced that:
Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination....This is about how we treat each other as human beings....Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.
Indeed, it does take courage to oppose discrimination, and it's wonderful to hear Apple's CEO assure us that Apple will never tolerate it, but as Hawkins goes on to note, Apple's indignation at discrimination doesn't seem to stand in the way of doing business with some of the worst nations in the world in terms of how they treat gays and women. Hawkins writes:
Tim Cook’s message seems rather ironic in light of the fact that Apple willingly does business with some of the most virulently anti-gay nations on the planet....[H]omosexuality is punishable by death in Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran. So not only is [Apple] willing to “tolerate discrimination” in those countries, Apple is also happy to sell an iPod to the people who are murdering gays so they can listen to some cheery music when they’re done. What these nations are doing to their gay communities is despicable and should be condemned by every decent person. We hope Tim Cook believes that as well.
Given the news coverage of the Indiana RFRA you might think this photo was taken outside an Indiana pizza shop, but it was actually taken in Iran, a country with which Apple does a very brisk business. The two boys about to be executed were arrested and convicted of homosexuality. Perhaps Mr. Cook has not yet heard of how homosexuality is treated in Muslim countries.

Hawkins concludes by calling on Cook to show that he's not just indulging in empty moral preening, but that he really does have the courage of his convictions. Indeed, that he actually does have the convictions he claims to have:
Tim Cook says that, “Opposing discrimination takes courage,” and we agree. We call on Mr. Cook to live up to our shared principles by pulling Apple out of Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran until they stop their official government policies of jailing and murdering gays and lesbians.
Well, Mr. Cook, how deep is your commitment to non-discrimination really? We look forward to the news that Apple refuses to do business any longer with any country that tyrannizes gays and oppresses women, but we're not holding our breath. There is, after all, a lot of money to be made in those countries.