25 Feb 2016 Tomorrow I Will Speak to Apple Shareholders About Human Rights
Tomorrow morning, at the annual Apple meeting of shareholders in Cupertino, California, I will speak in favor of Proposal #7, “Human Rights Review,” a shareholder proposal submitted by the National Center for Public Policy Research.
(To read it, go here and scroll to page 62).
Last spring, Apple CEO Tim Cook penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he blasted religious freedom as having no place in our country. With no background in public policy or Constitutional scholarship, Mr. Cook used his poison pen to claim that religious freedom – a Constitutional right – should be trumped by his oppressive opinion. Speaking specifically about efforts in Indiana and Arkansas to pass religious freedom laws, Cook called this “something very dangerous” that “would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors.” That’s a lie.
The federal government and 31 states have RFRAs and none of them legalize discrimination against anyone. The federal RFRA was co-authored by now-deceased liberal icon Ted Kennedy and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. That law and similar state religious freedom laws simply set a high threshold if the government seeks to impinge upon someone’s religious liberties. If the government crosses that line, the injured party can go to court and seek relief. That’s it.
Mr. Cook distorted these commonsense laws to attack Americans of faith. In the words of esteemed law professor Richard Epstein, Cook and others have given these laws their “broadest possible construction and then give a parade of horribles, none of which have ever occurred.”
America has always given special consideration to those who cannot protect themselves in the political or legal process – what we call the discreet and insular minorities. Cook attacked them. I hope that Mr. Cook will reflect on his words – which carry a strong totalitarian bent.
Everyone knows that Apple and other major American retailers would never discriminate against a gay customer. But Cook attacked the small fundamentalist Christian that may not want to be coerced by her government to partake in a marriage ceremony that contravenes her faith.
While Cook bemoans religious freedom here in America, Apple operates in 17 nations where homosexuality is outlawed. In four of those countries, homosexual acts are punishable by death. Apple also supports opening business relations with Iran – a state sponsor of terrorism. Good luck getting a Hamas or Hezbollah baker to make a cake for a gay wedding.
If you are an Apple shareholder, please join me in supporting proposal #7 and send a message to Apple’s leaders that we shareholders support religious freedom.