Apple’s Intolerant “Tolerance”

In Steve Jobs’ world, traditional marriage is “offensive to large groups of people.”

At least, that’s what his Apple PR department told half a million Christians – signers of the pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-religious freedom Manhattan Declaration, whose app the company pulled from its app store just last week.

The app, originally awarded a 4+ “no objectionable material” rating by Apple, was removed over the protests of some 7,000 petitioners on “anti-gay, anti-choice” charges (this despite 30,000+ concerned consumers who in fewer than 24 hours signed a counter-petition to reinstate the app to Apple’s online store).

This puts the Manhattan Declaration in the inestimable company of other Apple-banned apps such as the disturbingly violent Baby Shaker game, Wobble’s boob-jingling app, the anti-Muslim iSlam Mohammed (curiously, the anti-Christian BibleThumper app remains in the App Store), and numerous other applications depicting graphic sexual content.

Is it just me, or does something seem awfully inconsistent here?

What’s most puzzling about Apple’s reversal of company policy is that if you actually read the Manhattan Declaration, it’s hard to find anything in the statement of conscience that could even be construed as “hate speech.” Rather, the document explicitly affirms the “profound, inherent and equal dignity” of all human beings – gays and straights alike.

It’s saddening to know that a reputable company like Apple – one whose very innovations espouse the virtues of an open, networked society – would choose to stifle reasoned and civil discussion of faith-based, cultural beliefs. After all, disagreement over the definition of traditional marriage isn’t “hate” any more than the 2,000-year-old teachings of mainstream Christianity are “offensive.”

Surely, Apple has the right to decide what to and what not to offer on its store. But Apple’s selective, subjective censorship of apps like the Manhattan Declaration’s should give us pause.

In the end, the debate over Apple’s unfounded decision to remove the Manhattan Declaration app isn’t just about one app and the so-called controversy surrounding it. It’s not even about political correctness and Apple’s disproportionate response to this should-be non-issue. It’s about honoring the value of free speech and openness to ideas on which our culture and nation were founded.

Wouldn’t it be great if Apple practiced the same kind of free-market, democratic ideals that allowed them to rise to the pinnacle of the technology industry?

Too bad there’s not an app for that.

This opinion piece was written by Chandler Epp, a senior at Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in International Affairs and Spanish. You can reach him at