Monday, May 17, 2010

Freedom from Pornography

Dear Steve Jobs,

If Valleywag’s Ryan Tate is to be believed, and the e-mail exchange he touts between himself and you is real, I have this to say:


But it’s a qualified bravo. Does Apple’s App Store still sell what I consider pornography? Yes. I have to say, however, since the App Store purge of a few months ago, there’s a lot less there, or at least a lot less visible. That’s certainly a step in the right direction, but the App Store is hardly porn-free, at least by my definition of porn. I’m willing to concede that my definition – coming from an adherent to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – is narrower than what Apple is using. Nevertheless, thank you for what you’re doing.

I’ve seen many ironies circulating around the App Store porn debate. One supporter of Mr. Tate cites L. Ron Hubbard in defining what freedom is as Mr. Tate takes on your desire of a world “free of porn.” Considering how hostile the Internet is towards Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, the tautology there is more than striking.

I have to admit I’m holding my breath for an upsurge of people desiring the App Store to be “free of religion,” as a backlash to the freedom from porn. They’ll try to frame it as an apples-to-apples debate, which it most certainly is not. From what I’ve read, there are many like me willing to concede to a certain amount of risqué apps as long as their icons and descriptions don’t go overboard, or, as I’ve suggested earlier, they were offered in a section for risqué business only. I’d hardly expect the anti-religionistas to offer the same concessions.

To them, I turn their own idea upon their own heads: Don’t like it, don’t look at it.

Now, I have seen people – including members of my won family – become disaffected by religion, or become hurt by it, or bristle when the subject is even brought up. I know there are people out there who truly do desire freedom from religion. I do not shove my religion into their faces because I know it bothers them.

Why, then, should they insist on shoving pornography in my face even though they know it bothers me? I’ve written before about the effects of pornography in my family. It’s certainly had a much more negative effect in my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances than religion has had.

I laugh at their arguments that since Apple’s products come with web browsers, pornography is only a few clicks away, so Apple may as well allow pornographic apps. That’s just like saying since AK-47s can be obtained outside of licensed gun shops, they should be available everywhere, or, since religious symbols can be seen at churches they also ought to be prominently displayed on public property. Turn the argument on its head enough and they’ll see how faulty it really is.

Apple has the right to conduct business as it sees fit. If Apple desires to exclude pornography, or religion, or whatever topic you could choose, that is Apple’s right. Freedom to protest is also a right. Freedom also means that freedoms do not necessarily have to be reconciled. To stray from quoting L. Ron Hubbard to quoting Mahandas Gandhi:

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.

Maybe in the future, Mr. Jobs, I’ll find myself on the opposite side of the fence when it comes to Apple touting “freedom from x.” I won’t deny the possibility. But for now, let me say thanks.

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