TMO Daily Observations 2015-06-26: Apple’s Confederate Flag App Ban

| Daily Observations Podcast

Apple is pulling titles from the App Store that include the Confederate flag following hate-related shootings in South Carolina. Dave Hamilton, Bryan Chaffin, John Martellaro, Kelly Guimont, and Adam Christianson join Jeff Gamet to offer up their perspective on Apple's decision, plus they have some thoughts on Apple's potential purchase of finger print sensor company Privaris.

TMO Daily Observations 2015-06-26: Apple’s Confederate Flag App Ban

Jun. 26, 2015 — Download: MP3 Version (AAC Version Coming Soon)

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Comments

wab95

Jeff et al:

It’s a good thing that no one on your very full panel had strong opinions, otherwise, things might have got a little heated.

I’ve been, and am, travelling extensively throughout this month, and continue to do so into next month, and have had little time for my TMO reading, so apologise for the late comment, but given the gravity of this subject, feel it’s better late than never to respond to your request for input.

I commented a while ago on Bryan’s ‘Apple Backtracks’ piece, but to reiterate, Apple’s attempt, as I see it, is about sending a message that Apple will not proactively or by neglect provide an environment on their app store, or for that matter, their business practices, that promotes discrimination, intolerance, unwelcome or hatred towards any recognised sector of society, however large or small, robust or vulnerable, vocal or voiceless it might be. Tim Cook’s Apple have more than once commented on inclusivity and its benefits to both individuals and society, no less than to Apple’s business, including the treatment of their offshore workers.

By doing so, Dave and Bryan are both correct that Apple are assuming the role of keepers of our moral compass, whether by intent or simply as a by-product of curating the App Store. And to Kelly’s point, this is a reactive and not proactive application of that principle insofar as this Confederate Battle flag is concerned.

This is a complex topic for which I have no intention of going into any depth, but to strip this to its core on Apple’s decision, this belated action did not occur in isolation, but in the greater context of institutionalised respectability in which that flag was heretofore held (it’s on the state lawn of several southern capitals and ensconced in the Mississippi state flag). Only after the killings in South Carolina, and the juxtaposition of that flag alongside other symbols of segregation and institutional oppression with the nine people who were murdered simply because of their skin colour did society at large take collective umbrage to its continued albeit site-specific honoured status.

That crime, against the backdrop of this flag, catalysed an apparent consensus that, not only was this flag too often used as a symbol of hatred and brutal oppression, irrespective of any other nobler sentiment, but that this hate-filled use overshadowed that flag’s already checkered and controversial legacy, and that it was time for it to be hauled down and relegated to obsolescence. That was a sudden societal sea-change, without which Apple or anyone else would have been hard pressed to take an oppositional stance without appearing to meddle in US states’ rights, and the right to self-determination. In that regard, to hold Apple to a higher standard than the country of its origin is unfair and unreasonable, in my view, and Apple’s action to remove the flag in gratuitous and non-educational or historical use is no more reactionary than that of US society at large.

Nor should we be surprised by this sudden move, inasmuch as human rights - related progress has always come in fits and starts. Catalysed by crisis and purchased in blood, the unfettering of human dignity and the expansion of freedom and fairness have always been far from steady and wilfully predictable, but instead precipitous and galvanised by conflict.

Apple get a pass on this one, but remain lashed to the thankless burden of curating their store, and the inconsistency and mistakes that come with such a task at the imperfect human hand.

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