Has Apple committed a sin against humanity?


copyright Getty ImagesApple and several other major consumer electronics companies get their gear manufactured for them under contract in China by FoxConn. FoxConn is a massive organization that employs hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers and has been at the centre of several controversies in the past including several scandalous and high-profile suicides.

While some news outlets and blogs have questioned the responsibility of FoxConn clients like Apple for these sad incidents, the general attitude seems to be that what happens in China is the responsibilty of the Chinese government, end of discussion. Or is it?

Enter Mike Daisey, a gonzo journalist and self-professed Apple fanboy who finds relaxation in the act of dismantling his MacBook Pro to perform a deep clean of its innards. Recently Daisey was interviewed by TechCrunch in a series of video segments to find out why he is now in the process of rethinking and possibly recanting his previous love for Apple and its products.

As you’ll hear in the video, Daisey visited the city of Shenzen in China and spoke with FoxConn employees outside the factory. Their stories raise serious questions.

Now I don’t for a moment think that we should listen exclusively to one man’s tale of despair and tragedy, especially when he uses loaded terms like “thugs” to describe the Chinese government (if they are thugs then they aren’t alone) or slippery-slope arguments that end in slave-labour or worse. But despite the hyperbole, Daisey gives us food for thought and even if we all simply take a moment to consider the full price of that gadget we’re about to buy in terms greater than dollars and cents, his comments will have been worthwhile.

Take a look and judge for yourself.

[via: TechCrunch]

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11 comments

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  2. Victor Missiuna

    I listened to the video and read your short article. I find it interesting that the other companies involved were not named also. Is there a reason for this?

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    • Simon Cohen

      Hi Victor, I singled out Apple as did Daisey because they are enjoying incredible success right now and the products that are driving that success are made by FoxConn. But you’re right that they aren’t alone. Dell, Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo, just to name a few are amongst the brands that contract with FoxConn for manufacturing and they all share in the responsibility that Daisey discusses.

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      • Victor

        Hi Simon, good followup. I feel that when we present a problem, we need to involve all the parties and not just single out the most popular. The problem is more with the supplier then with the client. It all comes down to business ethics, on both sides. One should know better, and the other probably doesn’t know better and needs to be taught. By the way, would you be so kind as to remove or change the avitar that you have posted beside my name. It appears that it can be taken as being offensive. Bunnies, turtles, puppies, kitties, even lizards would do better. Thanx.

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      • Simon Cohen

        LOL – Sorry Victor, those avatars are assigned randomly based on your email address by Gravatar. To change it yourself, simply head over to Gravatar.com and use the same email address as the one you’re using here to upload your own avatar – can be anything you like. Hope that helps!

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  3. curt

    What makes him a “gonzo” journalist other than his size? Hunter Thompson would probably have taken a few shots at his laptop if he read that!

    Other than that I don’t believe he is telling us anything we don’t know but of course few care. Out of sight, out of mind. The only way it will stop is if no one buys the products and we all know that won’t happen.

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    • Angela Sharp

      I agree with the statement that the only way it will stop is for consumers to stop buying the products made in China. I also agree with the comment that it will never happen. I am as guilty of this as my neighbours however I recently tried to be more aware of where the items I purchased are made and make sure to only purchase if it was made in Canada or the U.S. I ordered a couch set that I was advised was made in the U.S.A but when I took delivery of the set it was very clearly labeled “Made in China” so how is a consumer to know what they are really purchasing.

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  4. Real Gonzo

    I’m in agreement with Curt when he addresses your labelling of Mike Daisey as a “gonzo journalist”. In no way does this man come close to Gonzo Journalism. This man’s journalistic practices don’t even remotely resemble the style that was created by the late, great Hunter Thompson.
    Shameless sensationalism to attract readers, Mr. Cohen? Yes, it appears so. I can’t help but wonder if you even know what “Gonzo Journalism” is.

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    • Simon Cohen

      You’re both right – I grabbed the label from a quote in Daisey’s bio, but he doesn’t claim to be a gonzo journalist and I shouldn’t have referred to him as one. Good call.

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      • John

        None of us like to here the truth but whatever you post on here you all know he’s right. Those of you who have chosen to make disgusting comments about this persons physical appearance will make great candidates for any vacant corporate positions that may become available as you enter adult hood. I prefer to think maybe naively that you have not yet grown up and probably don’t share your toys either.

        Just remember that whatever happens in the industrialized world elsewhere and is allowed will eventually become accepted in your world to as being okay and an acceptable price t pay.

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