As you all know, Apple pulled the bigoted Exodus iPhone app after our petition drew over 150,000 signatures from customers demanding that the company treat anti-gay apps the same way they would racist or anti-Semitic apps. In reality, it never should have been approved in the first place, but mistakes are made sometimes, and Apple has corrected it. Unfortunately, a writer at another gay blog seems to have a problem with that, so I’d like to take a few minutes to set the record straight by responding to any misunderstandings they may have about what this was and was not about, starting with our old, original logo, with its completely wrongheaded accompanying caption:
Here is the oh-so-cute caption they placed beneath that graphic: “…But only if opposing viewpoints are effectively silenced?”
Um, no. The entire Religious Right has a louder voice in this country than their numbers would suggest, and no one is taking anything from them that falls under the category of “freedom of speech.” But more on that later. Let’s have a look-see at the article:
So why are we not exactly celebrating here at AfterElton? First, we’re bracing for the inevitable: complaints from groups like Exodus, AFA and NOM that this is yet another example of “gay activists” bullying and trying to silence Christians.
Yes, that’s what they say every single time their fee fees get hurt, on every loud speaker they can find. Their views, somehow, are never silenced, especially by Truth Wins Out and the other gay news sources which actually are experts on the Religious Right, who make a daily practice of quoting these people’s words verbatim. If we were trying to “silence” their voices, we’d hide under a rock and hope that makes them go away. Moving on:
Second, and more importantly, as vehemently as we might disagree with Exodus International’s mission and beliefs, we think they should be allowed to express them.
And they do. Moving on:
Exodus International’s smartphone app was basically a platform for their blogs, podcasts, latest news and FAQs – essentially the same material you could find if you went to their website. It’s not as if the thing was marketed as some sort of magical/religious gay cure in and of itself.
AND what does Exodus International do for a living?! They market “freedom from the homosexual lifestyle!” If one spent any time with the app itself, one would have found that the app opened up a world of false information and defamation of LGBT people. Indeed, Dr. Gary Remafedi specifically wrote a letter to Apple, stating that the Exodus app featured misrepresentations of his own scientific research, and that therefore they should remove the app.
And even if it was, anybody offended and yes, disgusted even, by the Exodus International app could of course choose not to download and install it.
Ah, yes. Freedom of choice. Just like you can choose not to go to a website you don’t like/are disgusted by. We’re winding up to the smackdown here, folks, give me two more paragraphs.
But honestly, how many people were offended by the application itself? How many people even saw the thing? Certainly not 150,000. It’s more likely that most of the people signing that Change.org petition simply didn’t like Exodus International and all that they stand for.
Would 150,000 people signing a petition against a KKK app need to actually see/download it to express their outrage?
Apple says the app was removed because it was “offensive to large groups of people.” But lots of things are offensive to large groups of people. Does the GLBT community really want that to be the standard for what is allowed on Apple’s increasingly pivotal app store? How soon until Apple gets a petition to remove Grindr? What if The Trevor Project tried to release an app to assist gay teens?
Indeed, and I wish Apple had worded that better, but the reason we petitioned for its removal is because it went against Apple’s own corporate policies in that it was defamatory against an entire minority group, and moreover, it spread false information about that group. So, if a bunch of wingnuts whine and start a petition against Grindr, they’re going to have to prove that Grindr defames them in some way, and it doesn’t. There are thousands of Christian apps available, and it’s important to note why we petitioned against this app. It has nothing to do with “opposing viewpoints,” and it certainly doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the First freaking Amendment.
Speaking of gay teens, Truth Wins Out claimed that a key rationale for the petition was “stopping a virulently anti-gay organization from peddling false speech at the expense of vulnerable LGBT youth.” This has an ironically familiar ring to it. The right is forever saying it is teens and children who should be protected from gay content. With this precedent established those Christian activists can now make the exact same case in opposing any gay apps they don’t like.
Oh, well, I don’t know how much time you spend covering things like gay teen suicide and the damage religious extremists do to gay teens and young adults, because I don’t read your blog, but we’re sort of the experts on that, seeing as it’s in our Mission Statement. So you might think it sounds “ironically familiar,” but whereas the Right doesn’t have the moral authority or the concrete evidence to show that they have a good reason to protect youth from gay people, we have both the moral authority and the concrete evidence, and the statistics on bullying and suicide, and a treasure trove of testimony and reporting on the effects of so-called “reparative therapy,” and unlike the Religious Right, we can back up our assertions with the findings of every single major medical and mental health organization in the United States.
Earlier this month the Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church had a First Amendment Right to wave their vile “God Hates Fags” signs outside of military funerals.
And the court got it exactly right.
Of course, you can distinguish the Westboro decision from the facts here in that Westboro was spewing their hateful message in a public space. Apple’s online app store is a private space, and thus they have the right to include/exclude whatever organizations and applications they want.
Well, if I had known you were going to win my side of the argument for me, I wouldn’t have wasted all this time.
But it seems clear that Apple’s dominance in the smartphone and tablet markets means that their App store has become a substantial channel for communication. How confident are you that the next public outcry and petition that Apple responds to won’t be to kick off a pro-Gay app?
We’re not very confident at all.
Are you scared? I mean, we’ll be there to fight it if that happens, but I’m a bit stunned that a blog purporting to represent the interests of the LGBT community is so willing to defend an organization with a proven track record of hurting gay people and their families. Yes, the App store is a “substantial channel for communication.” It’s also a private corporation, and as long as their policies are what they are, we will fight for people to recognize that true defamation against LGBT people has no place where racism, anti-semitism and other forms of bigotry would otherwise not be tolerated.
It is really that simple. I will allow that Apple often applies its policies inconsistently, and that this is a situation that will probably be revisited at some point in the future, for some reason, but that is not an excuse to tuck tail and run when something as egregious as this slips by their filters. Obviously over 150,000 petition signers agree.
UPDATE: If anyone is not quite clear on who the victims of reparative therapy are, what it does to them, and why Exodus’s “ministry” is really just a front for a hate organization against the LGBT community, please read this in its entirety. An excerpt:
Being an ex-gay survivor myself and personally speaking with over 1,500 fellow survivors, I can say that [Exodus's Jeff] Buchanan is correct on one point—Exodus has no cure to offer. Instead they issue a curse for those who submit or are forced to submit to their teachings. They offer harm—psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage. They tamper with their clients’ relationships, careers, personal development, and finances. They make a mess of our lives in Jesus’ name.
So what exactly does Exodus do? They now publicly admit that no one changes from gay to straight. They claim they don’t offer a cure. They say they don’t therapize. What services do they provide? Basically they will undermine your sense of self as they reinforce the notion that you are not good enough as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer person. They will demonize your desires, and will not even be satisfied if you choose to be celibate yet insist on honestly calling yourself lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. To add insult to injury they have fought to deny happy homosexuals and transgender people legal rights and protections. They malign LGBTQ people, our relationships, our desires, our dreams, and then they export this message to Uganda, South Africa, Croatia, Singapore, Costa Rica and beyond.
As I said, read it all.
UPDATE DEUX: I just took a gander at AfterElton’s homepage, seeing as, as I said before, it’s never a blog that’s seemed remotely useful to me in any way. As I expected, their piece on this was the only one which even approached an attempt to speak about something of actual import to the LGBT community outside of pop culture or Lady GaGa or Glee or whatever the hell else. Ya know, there are some who can do both. Joe does. Andy does. But then there are some who can’t and shouldn’t try, those who should leave it to the grown-ups.