This week’s spectacle of Apple CEO Tim Cook praising censorship as a religious obligation opened yet another front in the corporate war against free speech. Cook was receiving the Anti-Defamation League’s “Courage Against Hate” award, when he made his chilling remarks, seizing for his massive corporation the right to determine who can express themselves freely and who cannot.
His speech was such a prime example of smiley-faced liberal fascism that it deserves a close-up examination.
Cook bragged that “haters” would be banned from Apple’s platforms. “There is no time to get tied up in knots,” he said. By knots, I have to assume he means the moral discomfort that often arises when we put the value of liberty above our own personal views — as when, for instance, our great nation allowed people to argue that gay marriage is a right even though a majority of the people believed homosexuality to be a sin. It is not silencing “haters” that moves us forward, it is allowing all to have their say no matter how strongly we disagree.
Cook went on: “We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: you have no place on our platforms, you have no home here.”
Like other enormous social media corporations, Apple is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This provides that they can’t be sued for the content on their platforms because they are a platform — like the phone company — that provides everyone a place to speak, rather than a publisher that curates what they publish and is therefore responsible for it. If Cook, as he bragged during his speech, is able to censor an admitted fat-head like Alex Jones of InfoWars, then we should be able to sue him for every lie told on his platforms. If we can’t sue him, even clowns like Jones should be allowed to have their say in the great American tradition.
Then Cook made his most chilling statement: “My friends, if we can’t be clear on moral questions like these, then we’ve got big problems ... I believe the most sacred thing that each of us is given is our judgment, our morality, our own innate desire to separate right from wrong. Choosing to set that responsibility aside at a moment of trial is a sin.”
Only a man worth over 600-million dollars could spout such simplistic horse manure without someone telling him he’s a chucklehead. Of course we all have an inner moral voice. Throughout the centuries, people in the sure and certain faith in that voice have set each other on fire for disagreeing with religious doctrines, loosed dogs on them for the color of their skin and gassed them to death because of their religious heritage.
Each of these killers thought he was doing good. Over time, we learned that, even if we have ever so much money and power, our sacred inner moral voice doesn’t always get things right, and sometimes gets things murderously wrong.
So we learned. We learned to let everyone speak so that the wisdom of the people might find its way to the best argument. We learned that the question is not whether we support “hate” (whatever that means), but: who decides what “hate” is? Who decides who gets silenced?
Tim Cook, the head of a powerful corporation, has stumbled miraculously on the answer that powerful corporations should decide.
The Left used to understand that this answer was unAmerican. But as we shifted from a fact-reliant manufacturing economy to an emotion-charged information economy, we also shifted from a right-wing corporate culture to a left-wing corporate culture. Corporations can be wonderful, creative things. But they are also power centers and like all power centers, they corrupt the minds of the people they empower and cause them to envision themselves our moral overlords.
They are not. Our founders arranged that each power center should have a rival to keep it in check. In the case of massive corporations like Apple, the rival is the government. Tim Cook and Apple should be brought to heel by forcing them to either abide by the terms of CDA-230 or be sued by every single human being who has ever been slandered on their platforms.
Tim Cook’s is not the voice of morality but the voice of raw power. It’s that voice — not the voice of “hate” — we should fear the most.