Thursday, April 15, 2010

Help! Help! He's Being Repressed!

Outrage at Apple yet again. Now that Mark Fiore has won a Pulitzer Prize (no doubt, for explaining how to talk "like a tea bagger"), a few have noticed that his iPhone App was rejected a few months back.

Now, Apple's rejection criteria has been, to say the least, fluid. However, Apple has started clearing the dross of the app store, rejecting apps that are just graphics collections (i.e. usually softcore porn). Their claim (and rightly so) is that those can be better viewed just as web applications by a browser.

However, a few folks have decided this is political censorship:

Are you to be the new Digital Taliban?

If you cannot understand the First Amendment, if you can’t understand it supercedes your narrow monetary interests, perhaps you might want to consider moving your Corporate headquarters to a place like Singapore or Malaysia, where you’d at least have the excuse of hiding behind their similarly-repressive governments.

Yes, clearly Apple - with board members like Al Freaking Gore - is a bastion of repressive, right-wing anger. Or maybe, they realize that releasing politically-polarizing material - on either side of the aisle - is a good way to lose customers. Oh, and comparisons of a corporation making a minor policy decision to a fundamentalist terrorist group like the Taliban are always nice - what's the matter? Afraid to go full Godwin here?

Since you suggested it, let's take a look at the First Amendment, shall we?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

"Congress shall make no law..." Now, the Amendment's reach has been extended to other governments besides just Congress. But it hasn't been extended to Apple Inc., and as far as I know, Apple cannot pass a law.

The First Amendment means that the state cannot prevent you from speaking your mind. Indeed, this guys publishes on NPR - the state is actively supporting his speech. The Amendment does not say you get to choose how your speech is distributed. If Apple doesn't want to distribute political speech, that is their right. Just as it is your right to complain, boycott Apple, whatever you want.

Because I hope you really don't want the government forcing corporations - any corporation, not just networks or newspapers - to support any type of speech that comes down the road. That truly is fascism, not just the pretend label that gets slapped on anything politically disagreeable these days.

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