09 March 2011

Curing "The Gay" - Now Available on iTunes

Old pal John Aravosis reports that Exodus International now has its very own iPhone app - one that tells kids they can relieve their burdens of homosexuality through prayer:
Pardon my French, but WTF? Why does Apple require you to click some "yes I'm old enough" button when downloading gay apps on the iPhone, but when downloading "ex-gay" apps - i.e., apps built by hateful anti-gay bigots who falsely tell young impressionable children that they can pray away the gay - Apple has no restrictions at all on that app. In spite of the fact that federal statistics show 1 in 3 gay kids tries to commit suicide. In spite of the fact that the very first thing in the FAQ of the app is focused at kids.
Apple would be wise to be very, very cautious here. I'm sure the argument they'll make is on first amendment and restraint of trade grounds - people of faith have as much right to their marketplace as anyone else, and they can't be denying apps simply because their content is controversial.  But they clearly are, and want to be, the dominant (if not the only) online marketplace for mobile applications.  They undeniably exercise their market power to influence other market forces to their advantage - look at the fight over flash versus HTML5.    And they review and approve any application that will be available for download - and quite often deny or restrict apps based on their content.  This makes them first amendment traffic cops by default.

So they're in a similar situation to what Facebook was in back in 2007 - banning pictures of breastfeeding while allowing pro-anorexia groups to grow and thrive on their massive-but-closed network.

And let's be clear about one thing - there is absolutely no valid scientific evidence whatsoever that so-called "reparative therapy" or "conversion therapy" or whatever Exodus International wants to call it will turn people from gay to straight.  None. Nada. Zilch. Zip.  Zero.   There is evidence, however, that this kind of "therapy" is harmful.  

From a PR perspective, I think Apple just dropped a turd in the collective lap of its gay and lesbian employees, not to mention loyal customers like John.  I understand the free-speech argument, but I don't envy Apple's position now as the arbiter of what's appropriate and what's not.  Because as John points out, their position is already precarious.

Of course, they could open up the iTunes store, creating even more choice for consumers, allowing for more innovation and creativity... oh, right.

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