This is one of those few times when tech and religion cross paths, for real. I will be cross-posting this editorial on my other site: "Beyond Religion". It belongs in both places. Truthfully, like the issue it addresses, it doesn't really belong in this time at all. It belongs in a time gone by, a time when cross-burnings, lynchings, and sundown signs were common. Who could have guessed those old civil rights signs would find employment some fifty years later? Not me. More fool, I
By now, everyone knows about the legalized discrimination law disguised as a freedom of religion bill in Arizona. It seems the world will have to wait until the end of the month to see if the Governor will veto the bill, or sign it into law. Adding to the drama, a number of companies have joined the fray in an attempt to pressure the governor to veto the bill. Apple is leading the charge from Silicon Valley.
Tim Cook is one of the most high-profile gay men in the world. Arguably, he is the most powerful. He is not some Jonny-come-lately to the fight for civil rights. He is also not some outsider looking to make a media splash to boost his company's image. Apple is in the process of opening a major new plant in the state of Arizona. They also have six retail stores in the state. Apple creates jobs and revenue, as well as bleeding edge technology. What happens in Arizona matters to Apple
The NFL is also involved in the process as the next Super Bowl is scheduled to be played there. If the bill is not vetoed, the Arizona Super Bowl will be nixed. Tim Cook was not explicit about what he would do if the law goes through. But at the very least, I'm guessing that the sapphire glass plant gets scrapped. My understanding is that the governor is feeling the pressure, and will probably veto the bill. From where I sit, the damage is done. It is already too late. Here's why:
1. The legislation passed in the legislative branch. Those politicians were voted into office by the people of the state. By a narrow margin, enough of those politicians felt confident that they were representing the will of the people to vote this thing into law. Even if the governor signs the veto, she still let it get this far. She should have been leading the charge against this thing from the very beginning. She should have been threatening veto from day one. We shouldn't be sitting around waiting for her to make her decision. The fact that she has a decision to make means that she gives some credence to the position. No matter what she does at this point, we already know who she is. She is someone who has to think about whether or not religion-motivated discrimination is a good idea.
That is also the truth for Arizona lawmakers and citizens. Enough of them lean in that direction to make the state a no-fly zone. At this point, any veto is just based on damage control and not conscience. The Arizona well is already poisoned. We know who they are! If Apple opened the plant there, who would Apple hire as low-level and middle managers? If the workforce comes from the cesspool of people who pushed for this bill, the plant will be polluted before it belches out a single puff of greenhouse gasses.
No! Arizona should not be forgiven. This should not pass without consequences even though a veto is likely. Businesses who care about human rights and discrimination should pull up stakes and abandon Arizona: remanding it to the desert from which it arose. Decent folks out to leave. Arizona has sewed the wind, and it must reap the whirlwind.
But who am I kidding? If businesses cared about human rights, no one would be doing business in China. I was against Apple pushing further into China. Manufacturing there is bad enough. I was against it when Google entered China. The companies see China as a large pile of money to be exploited. The reality is that we consumers cannot avoid China if we wanted to. However, we can surely avoid Arizona. Today, Arizona, you are worse than China. Shame on you! .The decent people in Arizona have a lot of housecleaning to do.