As I listened to Mike Daisey talk during his monologue about a week ago, I imagined him as a tall, good looking middle aged man with a voice that put me at ease. I may not have agreed with some of his opinions, but I respected him for what he had done. A week later, when I listened to him speak during the “Retraction” segment, his image morphed in my head. He became very ugly, overweight, and aging. I was now disgusted by his previously calming voice. In my mind, he is a liar and nothing else.
He didn’t exaggerate the facts; he consciously crossed the line from what was correct into what was not. And then he sold it as the truth.

The most important idea that helped me be confident that Daisey is an unethical liar or not, is the fact that he probably would not have had a story if he kept to the truth. If he left out the meeting with the union workers affected by n-hexane, if he did not set the scene by saying the guards had guns, and if he never said that he met underage workers, then his monologue would have sounded petty and silly. I am assuming that what the translator said is the truth and anything outside of that is either far too exaggerated to be considered true or flat out false. I am not going to say that there is no truth, or that it is subjective, I fully believe that there is a line dividing what is true and what is false. There is certainly a gray area in between, but Daisey is nowhere near it. I see him fully in the wrong.

Some people have brought up the idea that the ends may justify the means in their posts, yet I see this as very unfair. Obviously the “end” they are talking about is that the attention that Daisey’s monologue got would bring about stricter rules and better working conditions for Foxconn and other Chinese manufacturing employees. But I immediately think of what this does to Apple and its stakeholders. Apple has to spend millions, if not billions of dollars to rectify their public image. This may be done through checking in on manufacturers more often, publishing reports, running advertisements, and more. This costs the board, employees and shareholders. This may seem minor compared to the ends, but let me remind you that Apple did not really do anything wrong in the first place. Even Foxconn is, arguably, still behaving ethically. It is not like Apple sends out kidnappers to snatch Chinese workers from their homes and force them to work. The workers can always leave if they deem the working conditions too dangerous. Yet workers choose to go to Shenzhen because work there is better than what they can get in most other places.

One response »

  1. srp008 says:

    I find your initial reaction to the original podcast to be very interesting, specifically Daisey’s demeanor, age, and even looks. I too listed to this man, who I originally viewed as a journalist telling a compelling account of his travels to be of the same look as you’ve described. Hearing his retraction allowed him to “morph” in my mind as well. It’s funny how when we detect the first signs of cynicism, the person’s physical image contorts to that as ugly as his lies. Secondly, in my response on how the ends may justify the means, I spent time concentrating more on WHY Daisey did what he did, rather than how. Although I do not think his actions are justified, I think he went about it in the only way he knew to make people care – which they ultimately ended up doing.

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