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Feature

Tim Cook's 'rhino skin' tested by a rash of angry flies as Apple investors shrug off concerns

In the days following Tim Cook's statement that he was "proud to be gay," Apple's chief executive has been commended for his openness in a variety of online opinions, but also needled by a pestilent swarm of haters, ranging from Twitter trolls to Russian politicians and businessmen. Apple investors don't seem to care.

Tim Cook


Initial praise gives way to incessant digging



While lavished with praise for publicly coming out by figures ranging from former President Bill Clinton to business leaders including Microsoft's Satya Nadella, T-Mobile's John Legere and Virgin's Richard Branson, many people--including a number of AppleInsider readers--have wondered in their public comments why Cook should be "proud" to be gay, and whether it would be Politically Correct for a straight man to write of being "proud to not be gay."



Apple's investors don't seem to be concerned about Cook's statement; in the three days since, the company's shares are up about 2 percent, reaching another new all time high fueled by strong global demand for iPhone 6 and news of collapsing profits at Apple's primary hardware rival Samsung, which represents about half of the Android platform.

"Being gay," Cook wrote in his surprise essay published last week by Bloomberg, "has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority." He added, "It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple."

Since his disclosure, Cook's "rhino skin" has been poked at by Gyrostigma rhinocerontis, the botflies of the world that have lives dedicated to burrowing under the thick skins of rhinos and living a life cycle that plagues the animals's stomaches before the parasites' barbed larvae are excreted out to continue their cycle of torment in successive generations.

The first eggs of contempt were laid on Cook's rather innocuous Twitter feed, starting with Cook's tweet announcing support for schools in the ConnectED program ("abomination" tweeted @GadgeDC, an "Indie Recording Artist" on Beats iTunes music, which Cook runs; "shame on you" contributed @ibrahimNmr from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a nation with an official policy banning gays from entering the country).

Gage on Cook


Even Cook's cheering on his alma mater Aubern Tigers attracted flies ("thanks FAG" tweeted "Aubern all day" @MrJohnD right off the starting line, followed by "the gays are NASTY creatures, monsters, fags, that pervert children with his ideas," from @___Dan__ a twitter user who has shared over 66,000 tweets to his 522 followers, regularly referencing homosexuals).

Some Russian leaders terrified Cook might spread gay



Beyond minor Twitter trolls like the prolific "Dan Black," who portrays himself hiding behind a Mickey Mouse mask, several more prominent figures have also emerged from post-poop pupae in a flight to burrow under the rhino's skin, including Russian politician Vitaly Milonov, who said Cook should be "banned for life" from entering the country on fears of "Ebola, AIDS and gonorrhoea."

According to CDC estimates, Russia and the United States have roughly identical per-capita rates of gonorrhoea, while Russia's growth in HIV infections ballooned by 41 percent last year, compared to a 10 percent retraction in the United States.

Ironically, medial professionals in Russia are blaming the HIV epidemic on the nation's failed drug policies and Milonov's new laws targeting "gay propaganda," because the anti-gay crusade makes it harder to treat people living with HIV or to distribute health related information.



"Earlier this month" reported Channel 4, Milonov similarly "demanded Russia's postal service refuse all letters from Finland bearing commemorative stamps depicting the gay Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, calling it "homosexual propaganda."

Milonov's campaign to remove any reference to homosexuality in Russia shares similar themes with laws in the Middle East and Cook's home state of Alabama in the American South, all of which also share a history of abusive treatment of gays and other minorities.

Russia worried about propaganda, spying



Milonov's crusade against gays appears to have support among some business leaders in Russia. That includes Maxim Dolgopolov, the head of ZEFS (West European Financial Union), who ordered that a memorial to Steve Jobs installed by the group be removed from a St Petersburg University after learning that Jobs' hand selected successor was openly gay.

Russia removes Steve Jobs monument


According to a report by Philip Elmer-DeWitt for Fortune, the group's removal of the monument had two underlying reasons: "the execution of the law prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality among minors, as well as the revelations of a former employee of the national security Agency, USA Edward Snowden, according to which Apple products transmits data about its users to the American secret services."

Four years ago, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met with Steve Jobs, who gave him an iPhone 4 and advised him of the need to change Russia's culture of corruption that has hampered the nation from developing a competitive, innovative economy.

In the years since, very little has changed to make Russia more economically viable as an incubator for innovation, while Milonov's efforts to end "gay propaganda" have taken the limelight, gaining support from Russian President Vladimir Putin (who signed Milonov's inititive into law) and inciting widespread outbreaks of violence against gays throughout the country.

Public access to a Private API



Despite having developed a 'rhino's skin,' Cook--a multi-billionaire executive with an unassailable record of virtually perfect operational acumen--wrote, "I'll admit that this wasn't an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I'd like to hold on to a small amount of it."

Since taking the helm at Apple, Cook has emerged as a well known personality, leading the company's keynote addresses, testifying before the U.S. Senate, delivering high profile interviews, engaging leaders in China on privacy and security and increasingly addressing issues of inequality, most recently in his home state of Alabama.

In a speech at his induction into the Alabama Academy of Honor, an institution that celebrates distinguished Alabamans, Cook addressed the state's slow action on racial equality in the 1960s, noting it has only been 14 years since interracial marriage was made legal in the state.

Cooks added that Alabama is "still too slow on equality for the LGBT community," citing a legal right to fire employees based on their sexual orientation. "We can't change the past, but we can learn from it and we can create a different future," Cook said.

Republican Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, an opponent of same-sex marriage, told the Anniston Star he objected to Cook drawing connections between the Civil Rights movement and gay rights.

"I don't connect those two, and in fact I don't think the African-American community connects those two either," Bentley said."Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King Jr.

However, as Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., stated in 1998, "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'"

Cook essay described that he realized he was giving up his own privacy in the hope that hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay might help those who still struggle with their identity.

"When I arrive in my office each morning, I'm greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy," Cook wrote in his coming out letter. "I don't pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I'm doing my part, however small, to help others.

"We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick."