From the summary (and the article) I interpreted the issue is a person accused somebody else of being racist without proof. So the issue wasn't someone expressing an unpopular opinion and being branded a racist by the courts for it, but a person accusing someone else of being racist. So the opposite of what the OP was complaining about.
That said in no way do I feel this fine was just or reasonable.
Smart move from Apple - even if it was to replace a previous dumb move.
Apple can do fine living in isolation developing hardware enclosures and user interfaces, but the world of AI is much bigger than Apple and it's where the majority of progress in the computing world is going to happen now.
I'm happy Apple has realised this. Apple vs "the rest of the world" in developing AI was not going to end well for them.