Maybe Apple needs to rethink some things. First it declines to create an app for GOP Congressional candidate Ari David that would have been (gasp) critical of Henry Waxman. If the kids don’t know this story yet, clap earmuffs on them. Ari David was going to compare items on Waxman’s agenda to…Soviet farming regulations.
The horror. Apple decided that that was “defamatory.” I deduced originally that this was code for “our lawyers would freak and Waxman would retaliate as only he can”; but there’s also the possibility that selling derogatory app content about Soviet farming regulations could tend to discourage purchases of the iStalin app.
Now comes word from Allahpundit that Apple killed a just-created app, iSlam Muhammad, for reasons the company’s representative “could not discuss” over the phone with the content creator, a comedian and filmmaker. Referring to this app as “KoranThumper” seems appropriate, given that it was modeled on an app called BibleThumper that remains available as of 6:15 PM PDT today (20 May) on the iTunes commercial site. (Threatening to behead Steve Jobs over BibleThumper is, in the end, not What Jesus Would Do. One of the many crucial differences between him and Mohammed.)
Apple gets it coming and going, of course. The company pulled its popular app iMussolini earlier this year, although it appears that there was a legitimate issue with coyrighted material behind the challenge in Italian court. It’s not clear whether the objections of Holocaust survivors would have gotten the app pulled on the basis of offensiveness.
They would surely have done so if the iHitler app, proposed to Apple by the same Italian app designer, had seen the light of day. Apple rejected the concept outright, however, according to Italian tech media. (Admin note: if you use an online translator for this Italian-language news item, it will probably mistranslate the key verb bocciare, which occurs in the third-person singular in the summary – boccia – as the noun “ball.” The verb means “reject,” and what the text actually says is that Apple’s approval team rejected the proposed app before it got to the App store. It doesn’t say “the team approved prior to the ball.” One of the many delights of online translators.)
So Ari David can congratulate himself that Apple recoiled from an app criticizing Henry Waxman with the same promptitude accorded its rejection of the iHitler app, intervening before anything could even get recorded. As others have pointed out, however, Apple continues to sell the Che for iPhone app. If you’re in the mood for laughing at credulous fools who imagine themselves to be striking blows for Totally Blow-Worthy Stuff, this interview of the (yet again Italian) creator of Che for iPhone is priceless. His i-app posse was reportedly inspired by the Steven Soderbergh movie – information he may have actually communicated with a straight face.
Apple does seem to be an unerring windsock in the siroccos of political correctness. Che – check. BibleThumper – check, check. Mussolini – court case! Separate column. Hitler – NOT. Criticism of Henry Waxman – NOT EVEN. KoranThumper – “Can’t discuss that with you at this time.”
But it’s interesting to note that we go orange and horizontal in some winds too. Does anyone think it’s actually a travesty for civil liberties that there isn’t an iHitler app? Certainly the civil right exists for us to have one. Apple could have made a lot of money with iHitler – it would probably have outsold iMussolini and undoubtedly would have cleaned iStalin’s clock – but we all know why Apple rejected the app. Most of us would have. And for most of us, enforcing the right of some people to buy an iHitler app if they want one isn’t worth whatever it would take to make one available (a hostile takeover of Apple? Extorting Jobs somehow to sell off the iPhone division? Creating unauthorized software with pirated code and selling it through China?).
There are forms of censorship we care little about and live with unconcernedly. Apple doesn’t always pick the ones we agree are tolerable. We ought to be concerned when censorship – including selective censorship by a private company – is being imposed because of the fear of retaliation, even though theoretically nothing has changed in terms of our rights under the law. The Apple decisions about KoranThumper and the David campaign app fall into that category, and the rejection of iHitler overlaps with it.
But our motivation to do something about it depends – always – on what is being censored, who is censoring it, and what there is to do.
If people want to draw Mohammed, they should draw Mohammed. Some enterprising folks might want to “gig” Apple for KoranThumper by displaying their drawings on Macs, iPhones, and iPads across America, and leaving plenty of photographic evidence on the web. Others with less free time might just swear off Apple products.
But for my money, banning the burqa will be one of the biggest useful steps taken in the West in a long time, if France can close that deal. It’s a deal that will require courage when the backlash begins; whether the French have that courage or not will be one of the key tests of this young century.
Meanwhile, the real payoff, in A.D. 2010, would come from inducing regime-change in Iran. Symmetric political warfare – e.g., having confrontations with Islam in civic venues in the West – hasn’t been working for us. The question is what, if anything, will motivate us to go asymmetric in defense of our civilization. It’s when we do that that we will see results.
Cross-posted at Hot Air.