Apple Steps in Culture Wars with Anti-Gay App Approval

| News

Apple has found itself in the midst of the culture war in the U.S. (again) by approving the self-titled app from Exodus International, a group that works to “convert” homosexuals into heterosexuals. The approval has sparked at least one online petition from gay-rights group Truth Wins Out, and landed Apple, the app, and the petition all manner of press coverage.

The Exodus International app describes itself as, “With over 35 years of ministry experience, Exodus is committed to encouraging, educating and equipping the Body of Christ to address the issue of homosexuality with grace and truth.”

The app comes with a calendar of events relating to Exodus International activities, access to blog posts from the organization, podcasts and videos produced by the group, and links to social networking connections.

Exodus International App Screenshot
Exodus International App Screenshot

Apple gave the app a “4+” rating, which means it was deemed to contain “no objectionable material.” This is the same rating that was given to The Manhattan Declaration, another app with an anti-gay agenda. Plenty of people find the content of both app objectionable, of course, and Apple pulled The Manhattan Declaration after the same hue and cry was raised about it that is currently being raised for Exodus International.

Truth Wins Out wrote, “No objectionable content? We beg to differ. Exodus’ message is hateful and bigoted [original emphasis]. They claim to offer “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ” and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients.”

The group takes particular exception to EI’s use of “reparative therapy,” a technique critics call brainwashing that has been rejected by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association.

This is another situation where Apple’s role as gatekeeper to the App Store is guaranteed to please no one. If it doesn’t approve the app, those on the far right of the culture wars will be offended, and if it does, those on the side of gay rights will be offended.

As of this writing, the Truth Wins Out petition has garnered 23,429 signatures. The petition demanding Apple pull The Manhattan Declaration app eventually reached 85,000+ signatures, with Apple pulling it before it reached that point.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

Comments

Lee Dronick

I just did a search and there are LGBT/GLBT apps so I guess the Universe is in balance.

AdamBerkey

*sigh* 
Good is called evil and evil is called good.  Thanks for pointing that out, but I don’t come to TMO for morality checks.

AdamBerkey
TitanTiger

It’s called Freedom of Speech, not “Freedom of Speech That I Agree With”.  People shouldn’t be bellyaching about any of these apps.

cb50dc

...Apple?s role as gatekeeper to the App Store is guaranteed to please no one

And what happens when/if EI’s supporters garner comparable (or more) signatures to keep it?

Hoooboy.

Fart apps are starting to look better and better. :D

Lee Dronick

Fart apps are starting to look better and better

“A man may break a word with you, sir; and words are but wind; Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.”

From Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors

Windsor Smith

I’m a gay man and I know that what Truth Wins Out says about Exodus International is correct—it does indeed “use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients,” and its “reparative therapy” is ineffective and potentially harmful.

But I disagree with Apple’s policy of rejecting apps that are “offensive to large groups of people” (as stated by Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris on CNN in late 2010). I don’t need Apple protecting me from offensive content. Nor do I want “large groups” effectively vetoing content that others might find perfectly acceptable. After all, it wasn’t long ago that merely acknowledging the existence of homosexuality was considered offensive by a large number of Americans.

Apple should keep its maturity ratings but otherwise loosen up on its app review guidelines. We can deal with the likes of Exodus International through other means—like the robustly negative comments already overwhelming its app’s customer reviews. And then, when truth eventually does win out, it would stand on a much stronger foundation than it will if authorities such as Apple continue to interfere with the free exchange of ideas.

Mikuro

Orrrrrrr they could set the precedent to allow any technologically clean and functional app, ignoring politics entirely, follow that policy consistently, and give a big fat finger to anyone who says they should engage in censorship. The only people who could be upset with Apple in such a case are fanatics.

Apple is setting themselves up to be a slave to every group who’s offended by things.

Apple has made some very pro-gay-rights gestures in the past, so I absolutely don’t see this as reflecting some agenda.

But maybe Apple likes the free press coverage.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

This is another situation where Apple?s role as gatekeeper to the App Store is guaranteed to please no one.

Except the shareholders.

cb50dc

I disagree with Apple?s policy of rejecting apps that are ?offensive to large groups of people?

Windsor, thank you for articulating all this so well, with the inherent credibility of first-person experience and perspective.

It’s a tricky challenge, as I do appreciate the Apple environment remaining free of, say, outright porn (as in “I know it when I see it.”) I acknowledge fully that even that may still entail some borderline decisions. But those specifics go beyond the scope of this particular issue.

Nemo

Apple’s various App Stores have grown to a size and so dominate the industry that users all across the political and social spectrum use the App Store’s apps.  Invariably, those apps will reflect or at least attempt to reflect the diverse views of those users, and thus, apps will inevitably offend some while pleasing others.  That is simply life in America, and if Apple intends to sell to Americans and to the world, it will simply have to accept that, provided the diverse views are civilly presented and meet universally accepted standards of decency.  If Apple tries to adopt any policy other than permitting all civil and decent opinion without censorship, it will find itself constantly at the center of controversy and subject to either the praise or hatred of certain of its customers.  With the result that Apple must become a partisan for particular positions, which will imperil its ability to sell its products and forsake the moral obligation of the American manifesto to foster free expression and debate.

Neutrality with respect to civilly presented views that comport with universally accepted standards of decency is the only way for a business to successfully sell to all customers, regardless of those customers’ views, and it is the only way to satisfy the moral obligation to permit free and open expression and debate of ideas.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

If Apple tries to adopt any policy other than permitting all civil and decent opinion without censorship, it will find itself constantly at the center of controversy and subject to either the praise or hatred of certain of its customers.

Nemo, you appear to be a perfect example of how “shallow” these controversies turn out to be. And, no, I do not mean that Nemo is “shallow”. I mean that even though the Manhattan Declaration episode clearly disturbed him, it wasn’t enough to take Nemo out of the fanboy camp. Similarly, if Apple’s app approval policies favored ferret legalization and private organ and tissue markets (two issues very close to my heart), it probably wouldn’t convince me to end my near 1 year moratorium on buying or recommending an Apple product.

If it doesn’t hurt Apple to engage in rotten behavior and it doesn’t help them to take a more enlightened approach, they’re just going to do what they’re going to do.

Nemo

Bosco:  I do have a problem:  Apple’s products are just so damned much better than its competitors’ products that I don’t take boycotting Apple lightly.  I also believe that Apple’s senior leadership are decent folks who are genuinely dealing with a moral delimma:  Their support for gay rights and their support, as good Americans, for free expression of decent and civilly presented ideas.  Their support for gay rights, unfortunately, has led them in the past, in the episode with Manhattan Declaration, to wrongfully suppress civil discourse, because they believed it was wrong.  But there they missed the essence of what it means to be an American, that is, we don’t permit speech based on whether it is right or wrong according to our beliefs; we permit it because everyone has a right to be heard in the public square, and Apple’s iOS devices have become at least a, if not the, public square, as opposed to simply being Steve Jobs’ company.

Eric Savitz puts it eloquently:  “If the iPad and iPhone have become, by virtue of their information app-lization, a version of the public square, we?d be better off letting the public decide whose ideas are more consistent with our national character and whose are not.”  And, if you could show that Apple’s iOS devices and their associated app stores have in fact become a public square, there is U.S. Supreme Court precedent for imposing the on even such a private actor, the requirements of the 14th Amendment to make the 1st Amendment binding on Apple’s App Store.  However, I am not sure that any federal court would at this point be ready to go there.  But I think there is little doubt that the App Store has become a place of public discourse, a public square, so that Apple is at least morally, if not legally, obligated to permit all civil and decent discourse.

If Apple were to make it clear that it permits all discourse that comports with universally accepted standards of decency and that are civilly presented, no group, no matter what its opinion, would think that it can dictate to Apple what controversial apps may be on its App Store.  That is true now for Android’s Market Place, which is open to all decent and civil views so that no group expects to be able to petition Google to remove any app that presents controversial views, so long as those views are decent and civil.  Apple needs to adopt the same policy as Google with respect to controversial speech so that no group, whether pro or con any controversial topic, thinks that it can petition Apple to suppress the speech of those who present a civil and decent dissent from its views.  As it stands now, it seems that prior to presenting an app to the App Store that presents controversial conservative views on at least gay rights, the developer of that will have to present his app to LGBT/GLBT community for prior approval. 

Perhaps certain groups do have the right to veto what appears on the App Store based on their beliefs.  I hope not.  And in that hope and the belief that Apple’s senior management will do the right thing in protecting the value of free expression, I still use Apple’s products and services.  However, if my hope turns to despair, I will forsake Apple, because free speech is far more important to me than the latest gadget from Apple, no matter how elegant and superior to its competitors those gadgets may be.

cb50dc

Neutrality with respect to civilly presented views that comport with universally accepted standards of decency… is the only way to satisfy the moral obligation to permit free and open expression and debate of ideas

There’s the rub, Nemo: EI and related groups will not accept the broad continu?m of human sexuality as “decent.” They revere above all an irrational dogma that cannot, or will not, allow any assertions beyond a simplistic binary worldview. Therefore “Free and open expression and debate” have no value for them on these points. Those issues go waaaaay beyond the scope of this forum.

Per your first paragraph and Windsor’s post above, I also hope Apple will kick out the jams and establish policies that minimize the likelihood of these kinds of clashes, or at least respond consistently.

Nemo

Dear cbsofla:  It doesn’t matter whether El believes in free speech or whether they accept any particular form of human sexuality as decent.  The moral obligation to permit free expression of civil presented idea is accorded to the idea being expressed regardless of the content of that idea or whether person expressing it is believes in free speech.  So the people of El are entitled to civilly express their world view without any prejudice to their ability to express their view.

And while El’s ideas are controversial, they are no more irrational that any other religious belief, and it is beyond question that one may express his religious views, at least in a civil manner.  And that El views are held by such a large number of people establish that its views comport with standards of decency, that is, there is no universal accepted view that what El express is beyond the pale.

So Apple should ignore the petition to remove El, and while it is at it, it should reinstate the Manhattan Declaration.  And in the future, Apple should make it clear that it will not censor ideas that comport with universal standards of decency and civility.  I say this knowing that such a policy will doubtless lead to the expression of ideas that offend me, but I am American:  I protect the expression of even the idea that I hate, can tolerate the existence of that idea in the public discourse, and know how to answer an argument with an argument.

cb50dc

it seems that prior to presenting an app to the App Store that presents controversial conservative views on at least gay rights, the developer of that will have to present his app to LGBT/GLBT community for prior approval.

Major problem here: No such monolithic, authoritative “community” exists for purposes of approving or disapproving this or any other issue. I think Windsor nailed it very well all around; simply put, not all LGBT persons agree, no more than all heterosexuals agree on those same issues.

Even if Barney Frank, Alice Walker, Dan Savage, and Ted Haggard (“I’m not gay! Or bisexual! Or whatever!”) appeared together on the Ellen Degeneres show to voice their unanimous agreement on whatever sensitive issue, that doesn’t make it any sort of official LGBTQ proclamation.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Of course I agree 100% with Nemo about censorship of civil presentation of even generally offensive views. There are strong institutions in our country that protect those individual rights. There are no institutions at Apple that we can depend on to uphold such rights vis a vis the App Store. It’s pretty much been Apple’s whim from the beginning, which is wonderful if the App Store is just one legitimate channel. But it’s the only channel, and so that’s how Apple holds its customers and developers hostage to its whims. Really nothing new to see here…

Oh, and if you feel like you’re losing your “Apple Cred” by agreeing that this system is terminally and perpetually problematic, you need to look at the bullies who would take that cred from you. There are plenty of such people in fanboy circles.

Nemo

Dear cbsofla:  Well, there certainly seems to be such groups, for they certainly have acted to organize opposition to certain apps that they disagree with, here El’s app.  But if you’re right, and the groups seeking to remove El’s app don’t have the authority to speak for gay Americans or to present the gay community’s orthodox opposition to El’s app, there is even less reason for Apple to consent to their request to remove El’s app.

cb50dc

It doesn?t matter whether El believes in free speech or whether they accept any particular form of human sexuality as decent… the people of El are entitled to civilly express their world view without any prejudice to their ability to express their view.

I agree. My observation related mainly to how they might respond to these discussions (having been on that side of things for almost the first half of my life).

And while El?s ideas are controversial, they are no more irrational tha[n] any other religious belief…

Again agreed. And some beliefs have far more real-world consequences, and so they lead to more complicated discussions (far too intricate an issue to address here, and not suitable for the setting anyhow).

Apple should make it clear that it will not censor ideas that comport with universal standards of decency and civility. ...such a policy will doubtless lead to the expression of ideas that offend me, but I am American:  I protect the expression of even the idea that I hate…

Again, I share that perspective. A few weeks ago when the SC gave free rein to Fred Phelps et al., I said I’d hold my nose while agreeing with the 8-1 decision, on principle.

On the other issue: Sure, some major groups do the actual organizing, and those who agree with the issue in question can rally around that. Among the most sensitive examples I’ve seen: those who prefer not to come out, for whatever reasons, strongly disagree with those who would deliberately “out” them, against their will. The “outers” act AS IF they are “RIGHT” enough to impose their values on others who still prefer to keep their sexuality private.

In this example, no one, no group, has any “authority” to insist that all closeted LGBT persons must come out. Any person or group can certainly use her/his influence and position to encourage others to do so. But that’s not “speaking FOR” everyone.

Similarly, not all gays want to marry; I have gay friends (mostly older) who’ve shared concerns that pushing for it too strongly right now serves mainly to mobilize more strident opposition and possibly delay and derail other practical goals. Again, certainly any person or group may act to pursue that goal, state by state, but they do not speak for everyone.

Bottom line, again I concur: Apple shouldn’t give in on this. And again, it’s partly pragmatic: it brings the decision down to which wheel squeaks more loudly. Not a good basis for serious decisions on this or any other deepy personal issue.

Nemo

Dear cbsofla:  I am not so naive as to believe that good things always come from open discussions, but open, civil discussion that is conducted in good faith is among the best and is sometimes the only way for opponents to get some appreciation and understanding of the other fellow’s position and point of view.  From that understanding can come some movement: a compromise and/or, on occasion, even a re-evaluation and change of one’s own position.  I think that you and I have had such an open and civil discussion, and I think that Apple’s adoption of a policy permitting civil and decent discussion of tough issues may also do some similar good.  In any even, civil and decent discussion won’t do any additional harm. 

And it is the right of everyone to have his civil and decent expression heard.  And while respecting that right may do no good, denying it has proved throughout history to breed only secret hatred that, like a festering wound, suddenly burst on the scene.  Or would you rather Sarah Plain or the KKK be festering in secret.  Quite frankly, provided that their discourse is civil and decent, I want them on the App Store, where, if I can’t persuade or at least moderate their views, I am fully aware of them and the effect that they may be having.

Good talking to you.

Duane Williams

Free speech is perhaps a nice sounding idea, but no one in this country has unfettered free speech.

Apple has chosen to censor apps according to their content.  That is the background here.  The question is, given that background, should the EI app be approved or not.  Apple’s corporate policies of treating its gay and lesbian employees fairly and with respect suggests it should not approve an app that demeans those employees.

The idea that if Apple disapproves the EI app, then EI’s point of view will not be heard is plainly absurd.  EI has an easy to find presence on the web where they can and do spread their lies about gay people, religion, etc.

cb50dc

it is the right of everyone to have his civil and decent expression heard…. Or would you rather Sarah Plain or the KKK be festering in secret.

Nemo, I’m not sure if you realize that I’m with you on every major point, though I’d rather not address certain other specific examples here wink

Did you perhaps take my original comment on the EI mindset to suggest that I favor removing their app? It still sounds as if you’re trying to convince me—and citing again the recent Westboro 8-1 decision, I agree with upholding free speech as we’ve discussed here.

Nemo

Dear cbsofla:  No, I understand that we are in general agreement.  I was speaking more generally to others, such as Duane Williams, supra, and about the policy that I think Apple should pursue and is morally obliged to pursue.

geoduck

I thought about this over the weekend and came up with one overriding question:

Where do you draw the line?

I can understand that as reprehensible as this groups motives and actions are (they obviously understand neither the nature of homosexuality or for that matter have any real understanding of the teachings in the Bible) that is there opinion. I can understand those that say that Apple should not be in the position of policing thought.

But where do you draw the line?

How about a group that wants to “cure” Jews with much the same ideology and methodology? (1) How about a group that views Anorexia as a “lifestyle choice? (2) Should Apple allow an app from a group that endorses pedophilia? (3) Holocaust Deniers? (4)

Where do you draw the line?

It’s a broad grey area with no clear demarcation. In the case of the AppStore it means that on one side are obviously non-controversial apps. On the other side are Apps from organizations that are clearly beyond the pale and few have any problem with Apple rejecting them. Things that are simply unacceptable to and incompatible with society.

Lets invent an imaginary group. They hold ceremonies that involve large quantities of heroin, croquet mallets, and kittens. I think we can agree that Apple would be perfectly justified in rejecting an app from them. It may be their free speech but it’s not acceptable. Apple has to think of not only the damage to society but the repercussions to Apple’s bottom line. There is a school of thought that if Amazon sells a book they are endorsing the book. This is not true but it’s something any storekeeper, including Apple, has to keep in mind.

On the other side of the great grey field are Angry Birds and Barcode Scanner Apps. Somewhere between is The Line. And there is The Line. There has to be The Line. I’m the biggest believer in free speech as an absolute there is and even I understand that some things are just on the wrong side of The Line. Things that are so corrosive to society that for it’s own protection they have to be blocked. Son of Sam was not expressing acceptable free speech. If Charles Manson wrote an App celebrating his accomplishments I don’t think anyone would have a problem with Apple rejecting it. (5)

But where do you draw that line? That’s the hardest question, and I don’t have an answer.

1) Jews for Jesus
2) Numerous Pro-Ana groups
3) NAMBLA
4) Numerous people and groups, See Wikipedia
5) Note that I’m deliberately choosing the most extreme examples. This sets the end zones if you will. It’s where the line of scrimmage goes that is in question.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@geoduck: You only get these questions when you accept as reasonable that Apple has one legitimate channel for obtaining software for iOS devices. Since they started this system, I’ve wished them nothing but grief. What they’ve actually received is endless controversy that is more “attention” than anything else. It doesn’t matter where they draw the line on anything. They still get attention. And that’s what the App Store feeds on. No matter where they draw the line from month to month, they look courageous for addressing the problem.

cb50dc

I understand that we are in general agreement.

Well, OK, then. wink

(Ten points to anyone who recognizes the Coen Brothers there.)

CCardona

it wasn?t enough to take Nemo out of the fanboy camp. Similarly, if Apple?s app approval policies favored ferret legalization

Nor enough to take Bosco out of the “rebel-without-a-cause-apple-haters-because-they-are-successful-and-I’m-not-camp” either. “Ferret Legalization”! That explains A LOT! tongue laugh

If Hitler had yelled “Free Speech!”, would you let him have an app too? There have to be sensible limits to free speech, which our Supreme Court’s recent decision didn’t seem to understand. (I hate it when I agree with Alito!) Fundamentalists attacked us on 911, you want to approve their apps too?

vasic

Apple is a (very successful) business entity that has developed a huge Wal-Mart of sorts. It is by far the most popular online store for mobile applications and digital content. The store is actually global, but the largest single market is in the United States. Much like Wal-Mart, in order to stay in business, Apple must be careful about what it sells to the consumers, otherwise they may begin alienating them. Much like Wal-Mart NOT selling products they find unsuitable for whatever reason (such as pornography, etc), Apple simply cannot afford to stand on some “free speech” principle and just open those floodgates. One of the primary reasons Apple still has the most popular mobile platform and by far the largest selection of mobile software is because of the image of cleanliness and safety. Because those who choose Apple believe that there is somebody who filters the kind of stuff they would not like to have to wade through. The increasing numbers of spontaneous switchers around me all tell me the same story: “I just couldn’t stand the viruses! I have teens at home, and it was impossible to keep that computer clean! Since I switched, I never had to think about those anymore.”

People overwhelmingly prefer Walmart-style selection process. Apple, like any other major retailer, sells to mainstream American consumers. Even if all else were equal among mobile offerings, mainstream American consumer will always choose a solution where he (she) can comfortably send their teen kid shopping without fearing what kind of content they might come across. For those responsible, thinking adults who live outside of this simplistic, mainstream world, there is a chance that these constraints might find them wishing for things available elsewhere, and they may follow Bosco’s advice and move to another platform. However, realistically, there aren’t that many of those, and what Apple is doing is not really all that different from what any other mainstream retailer is doing.

Lee Dronick

Because those who choose Apple believe that there is somebody who filters the kind of stuff they would not like to have to wade through.

Also it isn’t like Apple is stopping people using Mobile Safari from visiting a web site or subscribing to a calendar, adding images to Photos and video to iTunes that may not pass App Store standards.

geoduck

what Apple is doing is not really all that different from what any other mainstream retailer is doing.

Which makes me wonder why Apple gets excoriated for filtering what goes on their shelves while Wallmart, Target, Amazon, B-Dalton, etc. etc. get a pass.

In college I worked for a store next to campus. In the magazine rack we stocked HeavyMetal. It sold well to the college kids. Then one of the Blue Hairs complained to the owner and it was gone. That’s the way it is in business.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

?Ferret Legalization?! That explains A LOT!

Whoosh!

Nemo

Geoduck and vasic raise essentially the same issue, so I will deal with both together.  Where do you draw the line?  As I have said throughout this discussion, you draw the line at any expression which is beyond civil discourse that comports with civilized societies’ universally accepted standards of decency.  Now, that line as a principle is clear enough, but, depending on the expression one is dealing with, it can be a near thing in practice.  But the Geoduck’s kitten and mallets group is a clear and easy case, because that groups practice falls outside of civilized societies’ universal standards of decency and is also in most civilized societies illegal.  And what most societies deem illegal is also beyond the pale, either because it too is indecent or because Apple, as must all companies, obey the law.  So Hitler and the mallet-and-kitten group are easy cases to deal with.  There are at least indecent, if not also illegal, so they are notwithstanding being a personal opinion or religious practices excluded.

Exodus International (EI) is also an easy case.  Nothing that it expresses is illegal, nor does its expression abet any illegality.  Its expression, notwithstanding Vaisc’s view, is as likely to please as many customers, depending on the region of the U.S., as it displeases, and its expression clearly falls within the bounds of universally accepted standards of decency, though certain groups, depending on the group either find it repugnant or an expression of divine truth.  So EI is also an easy case.  By the principle of permitting civil and decent discourse, it clearly is in.

Now, there is no way for me to apply the principle of civil and decent discourse for every conceivable group or hypothetical here.  But I am confident that the principle of permitting civil and decent discourse draws a line that most customers are comfortable with, that gives every one of Apple’s customers and developers everything that they are entitled and can expect to from free expression, and is a line that any fair, reasonable, and well educated curate its App Store to permit free expression of civil and decent discourse, while not reasonably giving offense to any of its customers, except those who insist on bigotry against ideas that don’t conform to their cherished beliefs.

Once Apple adopts the policy of permitting all civil and decent discourse and the sooner that it does so, Apple will be drawing the line in right place and will be free from groups—right, left, and any where else on the continuum—that think that they have some special right to control the content and nature of civil and decent discourse to suit their particular views.  After Apple draws that line of permitting all civil and decent discourse, which is the only line that it has a right to draw, the remaining lines drawing will be where, as a matter of personal right and dignity, it should be:  with each customer according his views, and not with some overlord at Apple.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

But the Geoduck?s kitten and mallets group is a clear and easy case, because that groups practice falls outside of civilized societies? universal standards of decency and is also in most civilized societies illegal.

So an app based on this popular song would be on the wrong side of the line (NSFW), unless there is a sarcasm exception?

Seriously though… Aside from the occasional Ataturk video in Turkey, how often does YouTube have this kind of drama?

vasic

Nemo, I don’t think you are looking at this the correct way. I can understand your angle; as the resident legal mind of TMO’s boards, you obviously suggest a very clearly defined (and legally easily defensible) definition of that “line”.

Apple has no obligation, nor reason, to define such line. They can use their own collective, corporate, business-driven common sense to arbitrarily draw that line wherever they please, in order to make comfortable the highest number of their consumers, with the primary goal of preserving the image of their retail experience being safe, clean and protected of offensive content. Their corporate ‘common sense’ will likely always be slightly bent to the liberal left (strictly politically speaking), as they seem to be that kind of corporation in general, but nonetheless, the prevailing critera will sill remain increasing the number of consumers who feel comfortable with the available products, services and content (much live previously mentioned Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, etc).

We will also have to keep in mind one other thing; product/content/service CANNOT offend ANYBODY if it is NOT in the store. It can only (potentially) offend it if IS available. So, just like approaching IT security from the CYA (cover-your-@$$) angle by closing down everything and filtering everything, and then opening up only those things that are needed (as opposed to starting from open and then plugging the dangerous holes as necessary), a retailer can safely easily remove the product as soon as minor voice of discontent appears about it, not caring for customers who might be interested to buy that product. You can’t really be blamed for NOT selling something that someone finds offensive.

Nemo

Geoduck:  Apple isn’t your college bookstore.  Depending on the estimate, iOS devices control 25% of more of the market.  Apple has no business deciding for 25% or more of the market which instances of civil and decent expression they may be permitted to see.

Sir Harry:  When one controls as much of the public space of discourse as Apple does, you need a damn good reason for banishing an app from the App Store to the Web.  When a app otherwise complies with Apple iOS developers’ guidelines, as I’ve argued in my foregoing comments, the only sufficient reasons for denying to adults the right to choose for themselves which ideas they will favor is that the discourse presented is either indecent or uncivil.  As much as I like, respect, and admire Messrs. Cook and Jobs, I don’t want either of them deciding for me which civilly presented and decent ideas I may see, and I sure that is true for most adults, and would be true for Vasic, if we replaced Steve Jobs with Rupert Murdoch, so that that all LGBT apps would be banned from the App Store.

Nemo

Oh yes, items excluded from the App Store can and have enraged people, and the resulting firestorm has on more than one occasion forced Apple to back down.  That is easily enough documented and has been reported here on the pages of TMO.

And the reasons for drawing the line at civil and decent discourse are:  When one controls, as Apple does, such a large space of discourse, there is a moral obligation to permit civil and decent expression both to acknowledge the right of the developer to speak his message, the diversity of Apple’s customers, and the right of each of Apple’s customers to choose for themselves which civil and decent ideas they will hear;  Apple’s present course is impractical and, if not doomed to failure, will at best lead to increasingly arbitrary and capricious acceptance and rejection of apps based on apparently nothing more than the mysterious views then prevailing in Apple’s executive suite; and Apple’s present course leaves it subject to groups all across the political spectrum constantly petitioning Apple and retaliating against Apple for either rejecting or accepting a particular app, which would stop or at least substantially diminish once Apple quit censoring based on who knows what principles. 

I think that those are pretty good reasons.

vasic

Nemo,

Regardless of whether it is Jobs or Murdock who decides what flies or not, the point is that such decisions are based on what makes the majority of their customers most comfortable. As I said, Apple’s ‘common sense’ may be bent ever so slightly to the left (but only slightly), but they DID approve this EI application, regardless of rather numerous complaints. And my feeling it that it was done precisely to placate those who were bothered by the denial of the ‘Manhattan Declaration’. I haven’t seen this application yet, so I can’t make my own judgment about its content, but I do remember seeing text in the other one. We’ve already debated that one here extensively.

The main problem here is that those who argue against Apple’s current level of arbitrary control do that with the premise that Apple now controls a “large space of discourse”, which must be properly put into perspective. To begin with, iOS is still only barely half of today’s mobile market, which itself is a small sub-segment of a large global market for computing devices that present information (which by itself is a small subset of all other ways to present and exchange information—‘a space of discourse’). And within iOS, primary vehicle for such discourse is obviously the web browser; people don’t just go trawling through the App store in order to gain information; they use Google in Safari.

So, the point is, Apple exerts control over minuscule segment of public discourse that, beyond the pages of TMO, The Advocate, The New Republic and similar, no one had really noticed anything happening.

Wal-mart has about the same exact approach: it does NOT sell products/content that may make their customers uncomfortable (magazines not family-friendly). And their control over space of discourse is arguably larger (with large number of people getting their magazines there).

jfbiii

There isn’t anything civil about the Manhattan Declaration, or about EI. IMO.

Nor is there any right to free speech in the App store. Just as there’s no right for my grandmother to sell her knit sweaters in the Gap if the Gap doesn’t want to sell them, there isn’t a right to distribute an app in the App store.

People who want to turn private into public are every bit as scary as people who want to turn public into private.

Nemo

Vasic:  The problem with your view that Apple’s iOS devices control a miniscule share of the public square is that you’ve defined the market to include irrelevant devices and markets.  Apps is what we are talking about, and Apple both created, defined, and today dominates the devices that use mobile apps.  That is the relevant market.  In that space, Apple share isn’t miniscule but is at least 25% with just the iPhone.  Throw in the iPad, which at present doesn’t have any viable competition, and the iPod Touch, which is a favorite of younger and less affluent customers, and you have iOS devices by themselves easily constituting over 30% of the space for apps, and I don’t doubt that is an underestimate.  So yes, Apple does control, as a single supplier, a huge part of the space for apps. 

That kind of control places different obligations on Apple than would be imposed on a college bookstore, a WallMart store, or the local Best Buy.  Also, the nature of apps place them in a different category.  Apps, unlike a great many products and services, convey information and, thus, are excellent, if not ideal, for speech, some of which will be controversial.  Given that Apple’s iOS devices control such a large space and that space is a space for speech, Apple is in a position to block controversial speech based on the views or prejudices of its senior executives. 

To prevent that from happening, Apple must find a way to open discourse that protects civil and decent speech, the right of developers to engage in such speech, the diversity of its customers’ political views, and the right of its customers to decide for them what of civil and decent discourse that they will patronize and enjoy.  To accommodate these several and often conflicting interests, what I’ve proposed here is that Apple, like most retailers who are faced with a similar problem, adopt the least common denominator of civil and decent discourse as the principle to govern when to reject an app from its App Store.  The U.S. in particular is a very diverse nation, as our recent elections evidence.  I know, having spent considerable time in both places, that what will satisfy or offend a majority of user in San Francisco is the exact opposite of what will satisfy or offend the majority of folks in Dallas Texas.  The only way to satisfy both—and Apple sells in both places and in many other places that are similarly diverse—is to use some least common denominator:  Motherhood and Apple Pie, for example, or civility and civilized societies’ universally accepted standards of decency. 

And even Motherhood and Apple Pie can get you in trouble, if you try to too closely define the nature of either.  So as a matter practically serving the diverse majorities that it has decided to serve (there isn’t one majority of extant or prospective iOS device customers that either favor or disfavor EI and the Manhattan Declaration; there are many, and they are all over the map of politics and opinion, and that is just in the U.S.); acknowledging and respecting the diversity of its customers; avoiding controversy and reprisals; respecting each customer’s right to choose for himself which ideas he will accept or reject; and respecting the at least moral right of free, diverse, civil, and decent discourse, at least where, as is true for Apple’s iOS devices, one controls a significant space of public discourse, Apple should as quickly as is practical announce the adoption of the policy of permitting all civil and decent discourse for apps on its App Store.

vasic

I most certainly disagree that in its current shape and with its current content (as well as current trends regarding such content) the iOS, together with its App Store, represents a significant avenue for ordinary consumers to receive and share information. The only way I could see Apple shouldering a responsibility for the unrestricted flow of information and discourse to the populace would be if they genuinely controlled access to the significant segment of that space for discourse. And such space in fact does also include all traditional media, where consumers receive information and exchange it, as well as all new media, consumed via all manner of devices (including personal computers and mobile devices), where Apple’s iOS is just a small (but high-profile) player. In such context, Apple really does NOT have to be burdened with such ominous restrictions, while other avenues of discourse (MSNBC, FOX, etc) are permitted to heavily filter their content based on their corporate criteria.

Out of all the current apps on the iOS platform, the percentage that exist that allow for exchange of information and ideas is rather limited. If we exclude from such segment those that are just vehicles, rather than content (such as various social networking and messaging solutions), the amount of apps delivering very specific type of content (wrapped into an App wrapper) is practically negligible. Practically every one of them is essentially just an advertising extension of their existing online presence, which is normally accessible (and much more easy to find) using Google on Safari.

There may come a point some time in the future, when traditional web sites may end up giving way to custom-built apps. There also may come a time when Apple’s iOS may be the omnipresent, dominant platform for all mobile computing, and within such context, Apps may become the dominant way for people to exchange views, at which point Apple may become responsible for providing unrestricted flow of information to all who want it. That time is in way too distant a future to be discussed today. And ironically, the only way I believe Apple may get itself into such position is by providing a curated, well-liked solution to consumers today.

Nemo

Vasic:  You stand pretty much by yourself in the view that Apple does not have a significant position to censor the flow of information to users of the iOS and that Apple’s iOS device constitute a major space for communication of information in general and political speech in particular.  Law professors from Stanford, Columbia, and, I believe, Harvard have commented on how apps are rapidly displacing the open web as the place where consumers gather information for everything from retail stores to restaurant to news to political commentary, and just about everything else.  And the law professors have been joined by other in the general press and tech press in noting that apps are displacing the Web as the destination for users.

And among vendors in the app-space, the law professors from Columbia, Stanford, and, I think, Harvard expressed concern about Apple’s ability, as a major app store and maker of mobile devices, to restrict the flow of information based on its policy for censoring apps.  And once again, the law professors are not alone.  There isn’t one major developer of games, media apps, news apps, apps on sexuality, and apps that contain any message but the most innocuous speech that doesn’t dread being banished from the App Store.  Apple is being singled out, as opposed to Android which doesn’t censor based on the content of speech and Windows Phone 7, which, like the App Store, is also curated but doesn’t have significant market share, because only Apple among the app stores has both a significant market share and clearly does censor apps based on the content of their speech, according to occult policies and standards of taste that no one outside of Apple is privy to.  Many go to their iOS devices exclusively for news, entertainment, games, Twitter, Facebook, etc., only going to their computer for work or larger format entertainment. 

Today among apps, Apple can censor what tens of millions of people see on their iOS devices, and that number of iOS users is growing rapidly.  Apple is the only apps store with significant market share that censors apps based on their content.  Other prominent observer, many of whom are scholars who study these matters, agree that apps are taking over from the Web as a principal means of acquiring news, games, entertainment, and other kinds of information (Certainly, Google is frightened by this trend, which motivated it to create Android) and that Apple’s position, as the only major vendor of a major app store to censor based on the content of speech, means that it can restrict the flow speech on controversial issues for a large population of American, does in fact do so, and does so using standards that many and, depending on the issue, most Americans may not agree with.  And that is the state of affair today, not at some distant time in the future.

As my final authority for the proposition that apps are taking over, I cite a fellow that you may have heard of, one Steven P. Jobs, who at a fairly recent presentation to introduce, I think, the iOS’s then new iAds service spoke of how apps were taking over from the Web and then presented charts, facts, and figures to show how Apple’s iOS devices were leading that trend.  Google scoffed at Jobs in public but shuddered in private.

His Holiness the Pope must turn green with envy when considering how easily Apple can place disfavored ideas and opinion on the App Store’s index and banish them from the App Store and thus significantly hinder, if not completely restrict, iOS users from seeing those apps that are indexed based on nothing more than the predilections of Apple’s current executive suite.  The Catholic Church’s indexers of works, which are indexed, that is, banned, by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, can only wish that it had the same exclusive effect of the College of Cardinals in Apple’s Executive Suite.

geoduck

On one hand Apple’s a Corporation and I don’t expect a corporation to do anything other than what will make them the most profit. That is after all their purpose and what is appropriate for society is only relevant when it impacts the bottom line.

Apple though has the right to control what is in their store.

As far as Apple having significant control of this marketplace, I know of a fair number of small towns where the Walmart controls an absolute majority of the retail space and sales. I don’t hear Walmart getting a lot of grief over what they do and don’t allow in their stores.

vasic

I most firmly believe that all what you had said is true to a certain extent. There is no doubt that very many preeminent thinkers are voicing their opinion regarding the trend towards Application-izing of the web. But to honestly believe that this is really so significant today is, I’m absolutely certain, naive. Yes, everybody (including myself) agrees that this trend is very clear. But do you really believe that everyone gets their news from some IE-type app in iOS? Even significant number of people? This trend may be tectonic, but at this point all the noise about it is mainly because iOS and Apple have such high profile. I’m sure we can all agree that Apple very often gets very disproportionate share of publicity, regardless of what it is. It certainly worked extremely well for their business. But as far as getting news and setting agenda via apps today, or even in the near future, that is really really NOT where we are at today. And if Bosco gets his way, it may never even get there since his Android platfom may even grow to become dominant and Apple’s control over what goes in may be even less significant.

I have two daughters. One will soon become a teenager, the other not so soon. When they earn their right to own a smart phone, I’m certain I’d prefer to give them an iPhone, knowing that there is at least SOME control over what they can do. Nothing replaces parenting, of course, but it helps very much when I know that there is only one single source for them to get apps, I can set up proper restrictions, and Apple themselves has some measures in place to restrict malware and other undesirable things from reaching my kids. As far as my own use is concerned, I know exactly where to go to get the ‘Manhattan Declaration’ or ‘IE’ on an iOS device, and I don’t need an app for it.

macobjectivist

There is a lot of media bias against groups like Exodus International.  I just want to to present a different side for your consideration, even though you probably won’t agree.  Exodus is all about helping people and leading them into a relationship with Jesus Christ, fully accepting that not everyone will choose this faith path.  Their ministry is evangelical and Christian and non-denominational.  They get branded by the liberal media and the pro-gay lobby that they are a “gay cure” group.  That is not so.

Exodus helps people who want to leave unhealthy lifestyles.  Some people are homosexual and very happy; for others it is destroying them.  Some people cannot reconcile their homosexuality with their Christian faith and want to walk away from unhealthy behaviors.  Exodus is not claiming that a homosexual can simply change and never have homosexual feelings and tendencies again.  They ARE claiming that through faith and a lot of support, not just from their ministry but also compassionate local ministries and churches that—someone can walk away from homosexual behaviors, meaning homosexual sex.

Exodus has helped a lot of people in 30+ years.  Surely there are some who started down a recovery process and went back to being actively homosexual. This can be true of any number of organizations and ministries, such as AA who help people that fully recover.

To be successful in an Exodus or Exodus-like program, it is necessary to adopt a Biblical worldview.  Exodus realizes that this isn’t for everybody either.  I truly believe in one of their foundational teachings—the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, it’s holiness.  There is a difference between someone having a homosexual orientation / disposition and living the homosexual lifestyle.

Some question whether or not moving from homosexuality to heterosexuality is possible.  I would like to offer up Sy Rogers, as a very bold example.  He was helped through ministries like Exodus 30 years ago, ended up working for Exodus and now has his own ministry where he helps those with many different kinds of sexual brokenness.

http://www.syrogers.com/

I want to let you know that I too dealt with homosexuality for many years.  I am now 30 and after getting so much rejection from churches, have come to embrace ministries like Exodus because they present Biblical truth in a loving way.  For so long, our conservative churches have tried to WIN THE ARGUMENT (which was stupid because most Christian homosexuals would agree with what the Bible says on this issue) instead of helping the homosexual FIGHT THE DAILY BATTLE that will continue until they leave this earth.

If this APP was removed, I think I would definitely sell my iPad, but probably wouldn’t go as far as selling my MacBook.  I know I am in the minority on this.

I just wanted to present the other side in a peaceful rational manner. This is the “other side” to the issue that is not commonly or articulately presented.

vasic

I don’t want to sound like a condescending, arrogant prick here. I just wanted to say, you sound like a genuinely good person, who really means well. But I can very clearly see why many people (gay or not) are deeply offended by the concepts you describe. Here is why. What you describe is based on the premise of recovery. In this particular context, recovery from homosexuality. What is deeply offensive is that homosexuality is treated like an addiction or affliction. Much like one can recover from alcoholism or drug addiction, with help, support, love and caring, one would recover from homosexual thoughts and desires. The fundamental wrong of this whole concept is the very consideration of homosexuality as a condition from which one is compelled to recover. It is almost exactly like saying that someone is afflicted with the ‘black skin disorder’, and with love, care and support, they could recover form that condition and eventually become non-black.

I can’t help but notice how you consistently used the word ‘homosexuality’ and ‘homosexual’, rather than ‘gay’, with the exception of just one sentence, where ‘gay’ was used to denote a disparaging label. I’m not sure whether this was conscious or not (or sub-), but it’s there. I’m sure you’re aware that among those in the gay population in America, the less offensive (and thus more preferable) term is gay. Much like we prefer these days to call blacks African-Americans. This probably borders on the PC (political correctness)-zealotry, but there certainly is something to it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@kbvictory: I think your note touches especially close to home for a few here because they know they will one day need assistance getting out of the destructive iTard lifestyle.

Now, imagine if you all had Android phones and cold shop for apps at the newly opened Amazon Appstore for Android in addition to the official Android Marketplace. This issue would probably solve itself because Amazon, for the most part, brings a bookseller ethos to its business and doesn’t bow to silly politically correct pressure.

Anyway, kb, I can find plenty to disagree with you about, but I respect your right to your views and experience. I especially respect that you came here and presented those views civilly. If there were an app that helped men grow a pair, you wouldn’t need it.

macobjectivist

Anyway, kb, I can find plenty to disagree with you about, but I respect your right to your views and experience. I especially respect that you came here and presented those views civilly. If there were an app that helped men grow a pair, you wouldn?t need it.

Thank you and its with someone like you Bosco that I would be willing to share a coffee or a meal with any day.  Two people can have significant differences of viewpoints but still co-exist in a free society.

jfbiii

Exodus realizes that this isn?t for everybody either.

If all EI did was try to help people who want to leave, they might be ok. But, this is NOT all they do. They are politically active in denying equal rights to LGBT citizens.

The difference between the speech of organizations like EI and the Manhattan Declaration and that of LGBT organizations complaining about the presence of their apps is that EI and the Manhattan Declaration are specifically focussed on the suppression of freedom and equality for a specific minority, while LGBT groups are focussed on obtaining freedom and equality for themselves. One group’s speech is about hurting other people, one’s is about helping themselves. Big difference.

vasic

The state of this debate (on the issues of gay rights) is approximately the same as civil rights issue was some 50 years ago; specifically, the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine, and miscegenation laws. Genuinely good, well-thinking and honest people were convinced that the best thing for everyone is if they lived their lives separately. At the time, it was deeply offensive on a personal level to see an interracial couple. Fortunately, at that time, the primary objection wasn’t coming from the church (which was mostly supportive of the civil rights cause), but from the conservative society. In today’s debate, we also see conservative society on one side of the debate, but what makes the issue one of the last few remaining civil rights issues to solve is the fact that this time around, organised religion seems to be pretty much on the side of the conservatives, rather than on the side of the civil rights. I’m sure that eventually, one of the two groups (social conservatives, or the church) will come around and begin supporting equal rights for all. For now, though, the debate continues.

wab95

Nemo clearly has a well-trained legal mind and finely honed reasoning skills by which he is able to cut through the emotion-laden cloud layer to the bedrock principles at issue. Although I have had neither the internet access, nor the time to read all of the above, I have enjoyed his posts and the many others in response that have highlighted a key, but vital point, that he has consistently been making; namely that of ‘civil discourse’ that follows and ascribes to ‘universally accepted standards of decency’ - a hallmark of the latter being the genuine and demonstrable respect shown for all, but especially opposing, points of view.

The context of that principle, he has repeatedly stressed, is Apple’s de facto footprint in the electronic public square of global discourse, which by nature of its having become a dominant forum, should obligate Apple to apply that standard of ‘civil discourse’ and ‘universal standards’. It is to acknowledge, at the level of its corporate leadership, Apple’s having come of age to become a truly global presence among clients and customers whose opinions will inevitably, and necessarily, differ.

I believe that vasic and others expressing a similar point are correct to argue that Apple, like any private company, can follow and apply its organisational values (all corporations and organisations are encouraged these days to define and adhere to these) in matters of controversy; however it misses, as Nemo has argued, the broader issue of Apple’s (or more specifically its App Store’s and iOS’s) emergence as a global forum for public discourse and exchange of views.

There comes a point in the evolution of an entity (corporation or otherwise) when it crosses over from a being proscribed and limited concern to being an integral part of the larger social fabric, too large to any longer enjoy the unfettered pursuit of its corporate values without affecting that social fabric, for better or for worse.

At which point, that entity can either voluntarily evolve beyond the limited adherence to its corporate values and instead apply those broader concepts of ‘universally accepted standards’, as they apply, or it can be compelled to do so by courts of law, if its failure to do so negatively affects that social fabric and its norms. It is not always easy for an entity to recognise when it has reached this point.

I think implicit in Nemo’s and other’s suggestion that Apple take the former voluntary and proactive approach, is the intangible but lasting gain in stature and value, and all that that implies, in having wilfully elected to apply those universal standards. Afterall, growing beyond one’s initial, limited and often self-interested standards, and allowing for the free but civil expression of all points of view in a manner consistent with universal norms, is not a capitulation from weakness, but the quiet exercise of tolerance and true freedom, from a position of strength. It is a recognition of a coming of age for oneself, as well as for others, and the role that one plays on that broader stage.

If ever there was anything more honourable, respectable and quintessentially ‘cool’, this should surely qualify.

jfbiii

1) There’s nothing civil about a viewpoint that demonizes a minority and seeks to prevent them from equal protection under the law; there is no way to civilly express such a viewpoint.

2) The App Store is not the only means of expression of a message on iOS devices, let alone the broader internet or even communication in general. Attempts to argue that Apple’s emergence into a dominant position as a distributor of apps makes them a monopoly subject to increased scrutiny and regulation ignores the fact that they did not get there by anti-competitive behavior; they earned that position by creating a superior product, ownership experience, development environment, and ecosystem. The fact that nobody else has showed up to the game with another team ready to play isn’t Apple’s fault.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@jfbiii: Mix in some Dale Carnegie, or better yet, some Guy Kawasaki. You are not going to change people’s hearts and minds by bullying them or refusing to engage in a conversation.

On point #2, nice thesis, except it ignores the reality that Apple has already been forced to respond to heavy regulatory pressure in the way it operates its App Store. See third party developer tools and the EU. And see what your favorite Senators are up to this week.

zewazir

So, according to some here, religious people are supposed to ignore - or even change - their religious beliefs in order to be politically correct?  And if we don’t, then expressing our beliefs is AUTOMATICALLY offense, no matter how our beliefs are expressed. And as such, religious people are supposed to seek out other avenues of expressing their message, because it is automatically offensive.

Have I got that right? Because that sure as heck seems to be what many are saying.

The majority of religions hold to the belief that homosexual conduct is sinful.  Note how that is stated.  No one is saying gay people are automatically sinful, or evil, or any other such thing as has been bandied about here.  Sin is the result of actions on the part of the individual, not on what tendencies they may have according to their psychological makeup.

For instance, humans are biologically polygamous. (ie: we are born that way.) Yet, society as a whole expect married people to maintain a monogamous relationship, and even allow for rather strict legal penalties, in property division, etc., against people who break their vows of monogamy. Most religions take the expectation of monogamy a couple steps farther, defining any sexual activity outside of marriage as sinful. Note again it is not the people who are automatically sinful in all matters of sexual conduct, but specific actions.

Question: what PROOF do you people, who think the expressed belief that homosexual behavior is sinful is automatically offensive, have that the religious view point is incorrect? Do you have some proof that there is no God, and therefore any rules of conduct based on a belief in God are invalid? Or, perhaps, you have proof that the content of the Bible is somehow erroneous? You must have SOMETHING other than your personal belief in POLITICAL CORRECTNESS to warrant the claim that it is not only OK, but morally mandatory for any view which conflicts with yours on this issue to be relegated to other avenues, so as to keep your little world nice and PC clean.

cb50dc

what PROOF do you people, who think the expressed belief that homosexual behavior is sinful is automatically offensive, have that the religious view point is incorrect? Do you have some proof that there is no God, and therefore any rules of conduct based on a belief in God are invalid? Or, perhaps, you have proof that the content of the Bible is somehow erroneous?

Zewazir, I think these questions start to move a bit too far beyond the question of what to do with the E.I. app (especially now that it’s been settled).

But the very fact that you mention the prospect that anyone might have “some proof that there is no God” shows a serious, fundamental problem in what you accept as reasoning. Simply: you cannot prove a negative, no more than you can divide by zero, create a square circle, or have too much chocolate.

Likewise, as long as we’re here: nothing in valid reasoning can ever “prove” any idea or supposed entity that by definition is non-rational.

If you don’t get that, forget even trying to discuss the other, more slippery issues. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

This has nothing to do with, as you yelled it, “POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.” It’s about mud-wrestling with the bad boys of hermeneutics, textual criticism, etymology, comparative religions, and so forth. But before jumping into all that, get a grip on at least the basics of Critical Thinking 101.

If you want to go into these things in more detail, feel free to email me off-forum.

zewazir

cbsofla

You missed the point entirely. That there IS no way to disprove the religious beliefs in God and in God’s mores on sexual behavior is the point. Yet people here act a if the religious ARE in the wrong for their beliefs, and are therefore demanding the expression of those beliefs be rejected from main stream access (“Oh, they have OTHER avenues to express themselves!” while simultaneously decrying the religious want “separate but equal” for gays.)

This is not a matter, as some have tried to equate, of sexual behavior paralleling racism. It is not about how one was born, but how one ACTS despite how one was born That is why I included the fact that mankind is fundamentally, biologically polygamous, yet few chiming in on this issue have any problem with laws which openly discourage and even penalize free expression of this basic fact.

The entire premise of EI’s app is focused on behavior, not on “how we are born”. The purpose of this app, (As an organization they do have other agendas, but we are talking about an app available through the App Store.) is to offer assistance to those who believe in the sexual proscriptions in the Bible, but are having a difficult time meeting the expectations of their own beliefs system. EI also has a program aimed at sexual addiction, which includes heterosexuals who habitually cheat on their spouses. The focus is on the relationship of the individual with Christ, their Savior, how actions which are defined within the Bible as sinful affect that relationship, and how one might deny their “desires of the flesh” in order to have a better relationship with their Lord.

Yet people are claiming that even to hold such a belief, that certain behaviors “of the flesh” are sinful, is AUTOMATICALLY offensive to the gay community. They completely disregard that the assistance offered through EI’s app is completely voluntary. They completely disregard that there are gay people who are deeply religious, accept that the Bible proscribes homosexual behavior, and desire help in learning to control their desires. To these people, it is offensive (because they do NOT believe) and as such, they are somehow in the right (of political correctness) to demand those who DO believe take their beliefs elsewhere.

I am pointing out that if these people have no proof that the beliefs of the religious are wrong, they have no business taking action on the premise that the religious beliefs are wrong.

jfbiii

zewazir, EI and other religious organizations (and people) are free to believe whatever they want. That doesn’t make their beliefs less sinful or wrong. What they don’t have a right to do is claim a spot on anyone else’s soapbox. They also don’t have the right to express those beliefs without repercussions. If the expression of those beliefs makes other people think that they are hateful people and poor representatives of christ’s message, then tough.

EI is more than what they appear. They always have been a political organization founded and funded by a political religious group and been actively involved in trying to limit the civil rights of LGBT citizens.

Yeah, I find that offensive. And yeah, I have every right to take action on the premise that religious beliefs (which themselves offer no proof that they are right) are wrong. If people can believe something stupid without any proof, I can dismiss it just as easily without proof.

zewazir

EI and other religious organizations (and people) are free to believe whatever they want.

Sure we are, as long as we keep our beliefs to ourselves so we don’t “offend” your delicate sensibilities.

If people can believe something stupid without any proof, I can dismiss it just as easily without proof.

Yes, but the difference between you and EI is you and your ilk take it one step farther: you presume to have the authority to tell others to dismiss those beliefs. YOU are offended by the app being offered through Apple’s App Store,, therefore NO-ONE should have access to the app through the App Store.

Who appointed YOU (and those like you) our moral guardian?

You purport to support freedom and equality, but the reality is you only are willing to apply that ideology to those with whom you agree. You are so profoundly arrogant in your view you are completely blind to your utter hypocrisy.

cb50dc

That there IS no way to disprove the religious beliefs in God and in God?s mores on sexual behavior is the point.

So you jump from there to the assumption that, since no one’s definitively PROVEN there’s no God out there, then some transcendent, anthropomorphic, conscious entity MUST exist.

That leap has no basis in fact, nor in logical inference, nor in even moderately educated speculation. Formally speaking, it’s part of the “argument from ignorance”: “God” must exist because no one’s disproven his existence.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

Yet still you demonstrate this very, VERY BASIC logical flaw, as you stated, “I am pointing out that if these people have no proof that the beliefs of the religious are wrong, they have no business taking action on the premise that the religious beliefs are wrong.”

Again, to get this, you don’t need the Ph.D level of profound, complex deliberations. This is the 101 level of basic, careful, critical thinking. You’ve repeatedly and explicitly invoked the argument from ignorance as your fundamental.

Imagine this: I claim, “No one can prove that I, while in a deep meditative trance, cannot fly in the spirit realm,” and then I insist that you must believe the stories I give you of my heavenly visions. Plausible? Not a bit. Preposterous, foolish, and not worth a moment of any thinking person’s time.

Note the direct parallel:
“No one’s disproven it, so no one should try to challenge my beliefs that I can fly in the spirit realm.” = “No one’s disproven the Biblical God, so no one should try to challenge my beliefs that the scriptures are perfect, infallible, and eternal (and therefore homosexuality is sin).”

When you start from this bottom-level critical flaw, everything else that flows from it, presuming to speak about morals or ethics based on supposed literal, divine revelations from a supposed deity is irrelevant.

I’m an active member of a Congregational church. One of the first things that attracted me there, in contrast to the Biblical-literalist-fundamentalist traditions of my youth, was the subtitle of a lecture I attended there: “Taking the Bible Seriously but not Literally.” I respect the varied canons as compilations of ancient literature, folklore, legend and myth. But to take them literally? As if Genesis presents a scientifically valid cosmology, and the origins of life, all instantly fully-developed? No.

You do take it literally. You assume that just because it says it’s true, it must be true. But LDS elders say the same thing about Joseph Smith. Good Catholics say the same thing about Papal Infallibility in matters of faith and doctrine. Muslims allow no desecration of any image of their prophet Muhammad.

And all those themes and variations, including E.I., are ultimately built upon?yep, you guessed it?the argument from ignorance. Truly helping a person who struggles with her or his sexual orientation and/or gender identity means helping that person learn to accept it, and thrive on it, as it’s just as natural for them as heterosexuality is natural for me. Those religions who do see past the xenophobia and homophobia of the ancient middle east can offer meaningful help ? simply by telling everyone, “You’re welcome here. And you’re fine as you are. None of that ‘original sin’ nonsense. None of that hypocritical foolishness about God creating many of us with homosexual or bisexual orientations, and then saying, ‘DON’T YOU DARE DO ANYTHING ABOUT how you I MADE YOU! Get used to the cold showers!”

Why do many in the LGBTQ community feel burdened, depressed, unsure, self-doubting? Because the majority of dominant religious voices from all around have told them, “Thar’s sumpin’ WRAWNG ‘bout ‘chew.”

All such nonsense reflects not only the “argument from ignorance,” but additional, specific extensions of ignorance as well.

That’s one of the very WORST places to start, if you want enlightenment.

Good luck.

jfbiii

Sure we are, as long as we keep our beliefs to ourselves so we don?t ?offend? your delicate sensibilities.

Not at all. What you aren’t free to do is to voice your beliefs free from the repercussions of doing so, or to voice them without any responsibility for having done so.

I said as much (but you chose to ignore that) in my previous comment.

I have the right to petition The App Store to remove an app, just as EI has the right to submit an app. Your attempt to paint me as a bully, when bigoted groups like EI are bullies themselves, is misguided and futile.

zewazir

So you jump from there to the assumption that, since no one?s definitively PROVEN there?s no God out there, then some transcendent, anthropomorphic, conscious entity MUST exist.

No, I did not say that.  But when you have no proof that a religious belief system is false, acting to shut down communication avenues for those who hold to those belief systems is antithetical to the political philosophy you CLAIM to support.

You can challenge religious belief systems all you want. You can even write an app about the “illogic” of religion - and I would support your right to have Apple offer such an app on their App store, as long as the method of discussion does not use deliberately offensive language, such as calling religious beliefs “stupid”.

What I object to (and this goes to jfbiii also) is when you take your challenge of other peoples’ beliefs to the next level, and act to tell those whose belief systems do not agree with your own to take the expression of their beliefs elsewhere; that somehow YOU have more rights than those who have the unmitigated gall to disagree with YOUR beliefs. 

You do not see EI asking Apple to pull pro-gay apps do you?  But YOU are “OFFENDED”, so those who DISAGREE with your conclusions on the issue need to go elsewhere to express themselves.

I am not debating the reality of religion.  That is useless to people who do not want to hear; “casting seed amongst the stones”.  What I am arguing is one of the primary principles on which our nation is founded: the right of equal freedom of expression.  NOT SEPARATE but equal, with all your “they can do it on the web” hypocrisy, but ACTUAL equality of the right of expression.

You think censorship based on your perceptions is fine?  What if the situation were reversed, and a company started pulling anything remotely pro-gay because it “offends” their religious clients?  I bet you would scream bloody murder.

And THAT is what makes your type hypocrites.  You “believe” in freedom of speech, but in reality that only applies to expression of beliefs what you agree with, or at best, are not “offended” by. And then, to top it off, what you are “offended” by has nothing to do with the manner in which a belief is expressed, but with the fact that the belief itself even exists. The pure, unadulterated arrogance of your stance is beyond the pale.

zewazir

I have the right to petition The App Store to remove an app, just as EI has the right to submit an app. Your attempt to paint me as a bully, when bigoted groups like EI are bullies themselves, is misguided and futile.

And I could protest every app that I find “offensive”. I could even go so far as to choose to define “offensive” as those beliefs I disagree with. Yet, somehow, I don’t. Nor do the vast majority of religious people. Calling for suppression of free expression is YOUR baliwick.

I did not call you a bully.  I do call you a hypocrite who only believes in equal freedom of expression for those whose beliefs systems do not conflict with your own.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

and I would support your right to have Apple offer such an app on their App store, as long as the method of discussion does not use deliberately offensive language, such as calling religious beliefs ?stupid?.

There goes the Richard Dawkins app… But isn’t this what happens when you buy into an ecosystem where one particular entity is always between users and developers?

When you guys all decide that you’ve had enough of this crap, Apple will get the message.

jfbiii

What if the situation were reversed, and a company started pulling anything remotely pro-gay because it ?offends? their religious clients?

But the situation is reversed…anti-gay groups actively work to suppress the rights of LGBT citizens.

Again, no one is attempting to silence EI in the public square. But when they choose to speak, that speech—like everyone else’s—is not immune to criticism or reaction.

But go ahead, lecture me about separate but equal and about rights, too. I have some personal experience with the consequences of truly being denied equal rights.

zewazir

But the situation is reversed?anti-gay groups actively work to suppress the rights of LGBT citizens.

And you undoubtedly protest such actions, while simultaneously claiming the right to engage in them when it supports your view.

Again, no one is attempting to silence EI in the public square. But when they choose to speak, that speech?like everyone else?s?is not immune to criticism or reaction.

“Oh, but we only want them to STFU in the App Store!” Sorry, but it still does not wash. You still are literally claiming the right to suppress the rights of others to a specific avenue of discourse based on your own perceptions of civility. YOU are RIGHT, and everyone who disagrees is WRONG.

“But, they have their OWN drinking fountain!  No one is claiming they cannot take a drink in the park!”  (Sound familiar?)

But go ahead, lecture me about separate but equal and about rights, too. I have some personal experience with the consequences of truly being denied equal rights.

Yes, which is EXACTLY what makes your entire argument full blown hypocrisy.  Suppression of civil rights is wrong EXCEPT when you agree with its results.

jfbiii

while simultaneously claiming the right to engage in them when it supports your view

Not quite. I am not an advocate of denying anyone’s civil rights.

You still are literally claiming the right to suppress the rights of others to a specific avenue of discourse based on your own perceptions of civility.

No, I’m claiming the right to petition the store owner and complain about a product that is on their shelves.

Suppression of civil rights is wrong EXCEPT when you agree with its results.

No, it’s wrong period. I’m not trying to suppress the civil rights of anyone.

I’m sorry that I cannot sufficiently explicate the difference between complaining to a store owner to remove a product from the shelves because I believe it to be inappropriate and using the power of government to prevent people with a particular racial heritage from drinking out of specific water fountains.

cb50dc

No, I did not say that.

Another case in point of needing some basic reasoning. No, you didn’t state it; I did present the necessary logical conclusion of your putting forth the argument from ignorance?which, ironically, you then assert AGAIN, right there: “But when you have no proof that a religious belief system is false...”

I encourage you to find a decent course, or at least a book or two, in critical thinking skills. One text I particularly appreciated back in the days before electricity was Harvey Siegel’s Educating Reason. You might also consider (just for starters)
http://www.criticalthinking.org/
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies.

I offer those resources because the majority of your comments consist of falsely attributing to me things I haven’t put forth, haven’t expressed nor implied, and which aren’t reached through any logically valid means.

In several posts I tried to keep this a little lighter with some humor. More significantly, in most cases (if not all), I’ve explicitly, unambiguously, and freakin’ OBVIOUSLY affirmed the opposite of your accusations:

A. You suggest I only “CLAIM” (your caps) to advocate openness, or simply “CLAIM” to support “equal freedom of expression.” In my initially lightweight take on this topic, in my first post (March 18th, 2011 at 11:14 PM [EDT]), I cited the hazard of censorship ? clearly contrary to your accusation. This foundation perspective remains consistent with everything else I’ve posted.

B. You say that I’ve acted “to shut down communication avenues for those who hold to those belief systems…” Nope. Despite my distaste for EI’s dogmatic assumptions, I made it clear that I support their right to have their app.

C.1. You say I “tell those whose belief systems do not agree with [mine] to take the expression of their beliefs elsewhere.? You repeat it not much farther below:

C.2. You say I hold that “those who DISAGREE with [my] conclusions on the issue need to go elsewhere to express themselves.” Again, the opposite holds true: In fact, in my first response to you, I did expressly offer to continue a dialogue, more suitably off-forum. (Read it yourself, from March 23rd, 2011 at 5:07 PM [EDT].) You opted for the public venue, and here we are.

D. You say I believe “that somehow have more rights…” Again, nothing in my posts leads to that stance. Cite concrete evidence, please ? not your assumptions or (mis)interpretations.

E. Another red herring: you assert that “censorship based on [my] perceptions is fine.” Blatantly false. Back to (sigh) my very first post…

Given that I?ve presented none of these points you attribute to me, I have to wonder whether perhaps you’re getting me confused with someone else.

Your entire final paragraph consists of one final logical fallacy, expanded: an especially feeble straw man.
? I never opposed Apple?s hosting the EI app.
? I never told you or anyone to shut up or go elsewhere.
? I never called for censorship.
? I never made any attempt to shut down your views. Not once. Vigorously advancing my points, disagreeing strongly with your assertions, and explicitly pointing out flaws, do NOT make up any attempt to “shut down.”

I’ve indulged this too far already in this context. If you honestly see value in further exchanges, I REPEAT my initial offer to continue this off-forum.

No one gets everything right. But if you choose to continue, at least please do take the time first to read the actual posts, and address the actual content presented.

And to those who’ve actually followed all these posts because you find that reading this helps you overcome your insomnia more effectively than any legal, or not-so-legal, pharmaceuticals, do feel free to send donations of appreciation. Good night.

Log-in to comment