Monday, October 31, 2011

The Ethics of Apple

I spend a fair chunk of time in Bethesda, even now that I don't work there.  Many Saturdays, I snag some New-York-worthy bagels at Bethesda Bagel.  This last weekend, I chilled with the missus in Barnes and Noble, she reviewing materials for an upcoming conference, me finalizing my sermon.

Bethesda's business district is a pretty upscale place, filled with high-end boutiques and nice restaurants.  And, of course, an Apple Store.   Their Apple store has been through two iterations, as the first one proved just too small to manage the mobs of iProduct-obsessed Bethesdans.  The new one is plenty big and spacious, with the usual array of t-shirt clad geniuses and shiny shiny toys set out to play.  I've bought stuff there.  It's a nicely run business.

Sitting right next to the Apple store is a little boutique that sells yoga-related products.  It's called Lululemon.  On the March weekend earlier this year the iPad 2 was released, things were undoubtedly crazy hopping busy at the Bethesda Apple store.

Next door, at Lululemon, things were more crazy, in the worst possible meaning of the word.  On that Friday night, one of the employees of Lululemon murdered her co-worker, after the co-worker apparently discovered some thefts from the store.  The killing took a while, as the victim was beaten to death.

After a failed effort to make it look like a botched robbery and sexual assault, the murderer's clumsy and inconsistent story fell apart, and she's now going to trial.  I've been following that trial.  

As it happens, there were witnesses to the killing, who are currently testifying.   Employees of the Apple store heard the whole thing while they were closing up.  All of it.  The screaming.  The cries to "please stop."  The sounds of violence, followed by moans for help, followed by more sounds of violence.  It wasn't short.  The victim, according to forensic analysis, suffered over 300 wounds.   And it wasn't just one employee who heard it.  

Did the human beings working in the Apple Store take a break from what they were doing to investigate what was happening right next door?   No.  Did they take a moment to call the police?  No.   The body of the victim was not found until the next morning.  Although they clearly and evidently knew something was terribly wrong, in the worst possible way that things can go wrong, they did nothing about it.  

It was a product launch weekend.  They were closing.  They listened until the noises stopped.  

Then they apparently went about their business, which, as reflected in Apple's laser-like corporate focus, is not looking out for neighbors or community.  It's producing and selling highly desirable Apple products.

As I recall, that launch weekend was very successful.