Apple CEO, Tim Cook, spoke up for free speech, tolerance, and standing up to protect the First Amendment when he accepted the Free Expression award in the Free Speech category at the Newseum in April 2017.
'Freedoms require protection'
Located in Washington D.C., the Newseum promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.
Cook took time to stress the value of free speech and the importance of allowing others to articulate ideas that you as a listener may find difficult.
“We know that these freedoms require protection,” he said, standing among exhibitions that include the 911 Gallery and Pullitzer Prize winners.
“Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us. The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They’re the ones that need protection the most. It’s no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights.”
Cook was given the award to mark his work in creating communications technologies. He was also praised for using his position as CEO of the powerful company to stand up for values that matter, such as racial equality, privacy, protecting the environment, access to education and LGBT rights.
“For democracy to work, we are not just free to express ourselves, we are obligated to. If public square falls silent, we are all at risk,” (I think) he said.
Cook insisted on maintaining his stance against the innate nihilism of our age. Calling protection of First Amendment rights a “responsibility,” he said "First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves. Because companies can, and should have values." He also stressed the need to be open to alternative points of view.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis received a Lifetime Achievement Award during the same event. A prominent civil rights campaigner, his book, March, is essential reading if you want to understand the struggle against racial intolerance. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, received an Arts and Entertainment Award shared with Hatch Beauty chairman Christie Hefner.
I suppose Cook’s critics will criticize the award. I don’t think they can credibly complain that these plaudits come at any expense to Apple.
They also miss the wider context of the solutions the company provides, a matter Cook touched on shortly after the recent U.S. election, when he said:
“Our products connect people everywhere, and they provide the tools for our customers to do great things to improve their lives and the world at large. Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the U.S. and around the world -- regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship, or who they love.”
‘A bunch of people’
Cook in 2016 was declared the world’s 11th most valuable CEO.
The company continues to successfully navigate a complex economic environment, and while economic uncertainty is impacting most global business, we all know Apple is on the cusp of introducing a range of “great” products.
"Of course corporations should have values, because people should have values. And corporations are just a bunch of people,” he stressed during a 2016 USA Today interview.
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