The Effective Boycott and “Freedom”

Friend-of-the-site Evan at Truth Wins Out just won a fantastic victory: reacting to a successful petition, spearheaded and originated by his site, Apple pulled from the Apple Store an iPhone “app” by the extremist Christian organization “Exodus International.” The app would have provided, one imagines, a convenient way to dehumanize gay Americans “on the go.” TWO spotlights Exodus in the video below, demonstrating that this is not just another anti-gay group pursuing their own political interest. Exodus, as a member of the discredited “ex-gay” movement, sought and waged active psychological warfare against gay Americans. This is not something polite society should condone.

There’s no legal issue here. As a private content provider, Apple can curate the content that it hosts on its servers, and supports for its devices, as surely as Fox can cancel Firefly.

Perhaps Exodus can justly feel marginalized. But it is the job of society to enforce discretion and decency within the exceedingly broad range of speech permissible, and unregulable, under the First Amendment. Losing the war of ideas does not indicate that the system has failed to protect value. The system decides value, meaning some ideas must lose for the system to work. The marketplace can and must make these judgments, or the “search for truth” has failed, and the First Amendment becomes a hollow husk. Contra Fox and Forbes, subjective judgment calls like this one, delimiting what’s legitimate political argumentation and what’s “hate speech,” are exactly the kinds of decisions the Founders expected citizens and private organizations like Apple — but never the government — to make. The market’s decision made, the analysis should conclude.

Nevertheless, Exodus is doing a great job of playing the victim, asking by way of hashtag (like ya do) if this is what “freedom” has become. Yes. This is, in fact, the way the concept works, as should be apparent to any tea partier. We hear elsewhere how corporations must be trusted, and allowed to do what’s best for their bottom line, almost without limits, according to an increasingly relevant fringe. And Apple is doing just that. The company’s decision is compelled as much by the amoral calculus of capitalism as by any “liberal agenda.” Apple isn’t selling out to the liberals. It’s selling out to its shareholders, who would suffer from any successful boycott.

No-one would raise an eyebrow if Apple published, but then pulled, a Klan app. Exodus International is not different in any meaningfully way. Exodus entered the marketplace of ideas but, like the buggy to the Model T, summarily lost. So it goes.

Update: apparently “homofascism” is a word?

5 comments

  1. oneiroi · ·

    I mean, on the other hand, I have never really been supportive of Apple being able to hold on to discretion on what can be allowed and what can’t.

    There was that hubub, probably last year, about them removing apps of comics and literature, that had indecent illustration or references: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/technology/14ulysses.html

    So on one hand, yay, let’s get things promoting hate. But then, I still feel reserved about letting a corporation decide what’s acceptable or not, especially since the iphone comes from the world of computing and the internet, where almost anything goes.

  2. I second oneiroi’s distaste for “letting a corporation decide what’s acceptable or not”, but to me the more problematic issue is that apple is a content provider and should not be one. Once you buy an iPhone, it’s yours, you own it, you should damn well be able to do what you want with it – starting with jailbreaking it and moving on to getting whatever apps you want from whatever source you want. And third-parties should be able to write whatever apps they want and distribute them however they want to any device whose owner (not manufacturer) wants it.

    Apple should have no role in the publication and distribution of iPhone and iPod apps – or at least not have a monopoly on them.

    1. You can do all those things, it just voids the warranty.

  3. Yeah, you guys aren’t wrong. We’re just working with what’s there.

  4. Actually, Truth Wins Out is an organization motivated primarily by antireligious bigotry, as shown by the statements of its Director of Social Media Evan Hurst.

    http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2010/05/8855/

    Actually, Bob, most “reasonable” people, if we’re using the word with a respect for its root word, “reason,” agree that there is no evidence for God’s existence, and thus no rational REASON to believe that any god or gods have determined ANYTHING, much less morality.
    Comment by Evan Hurst — May 27, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

    Hahahahaha, um. Dude. Seriously? No one in the history of the universe has ever been able to prove that the idea of “gods,” which have always been used to control populations, ever existed. It’s a ridiculous idea, created by uneducated nomads from thousands of years ago.
    GROW UP>
    Comment by Evan Hurst — May 29, 2010 @ 4:13 am

    They all rank “10″ because they’re all retarded and none of them can be proven by any human who’s ever lived.
    God, your questions are really stupid.
    Comment by Evan Hurst — May 29, 2010 @ 4:29 am

    Bob. That means your god is a weak minded little bitch who changes his mind and is definitely NOT eternal or omnipotent. He’s merely a reflection of humanity’s most disgusting instincts.
    Grow the hell up.
    Comment by Evan Hurst — May 31, 2010 @ 4:20 am

    Of COURSE, their idea of god is as a serial rapist. Fundamentalist religious people ARE essentially battered wives. They just act it out on a grander scale without such visible bruises. The really screwed up thing is that their abuser is an imaginary friend.
    But it’s a rapist just the same.
    Comment by Evan Hurst — May 31, 2010 @ 4:22 am

    Ben, everything you said was spot on. Bob’s idea of “god” is a moral reprobate, and a child at that. I wouldn’t worship a sniveling ass like that if you paid me.
    Comment by Evan Hurst — May 31, 2010 @ 4:25 am

    People should also see the type of dialogue and thought encouraged and supported by Truth Wins Out towards people who disagree with them — in this case, mocking an observant Jew and his faith.

    http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/30284.html#comment-1057133

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