A Geek With Guns

Views from a geek gun nut

Freedom of Speech so Long as It’s My Speech

I found an editorial over at Engadget that just makes me shake my head and weep for liberty. Apparently one writer there is shocked, SHOCKED I tell you that he was able to find Nazi themed applications on the Android Market. Hell he’s not only shocked he’s pissed off and demands censorship rights now!

Here’s the thing the Android Market is pretty open. There aren’t many restrictions in place unlike Apple’s iTunes Store. This means you are far more free to post what you want. Combine the fact you have an open platform and a freedom of speech in this country and you’re going to get things on there you don’t like. Of course the first thing a “progressive” liberal will want is censorship. I, on the other hand, want no censorship and instead realize that the price of the first amendment is having to encounter things I don’t like.

Let us look through some of the writer’s statements:

And here’s where we have to take a hard look at what censorship really means, and what kind of role it can (and clearly should) play in the new frontier of app marketplaces on mobile devices (and elsewhere). Let’s be clear about this right off the bat — an app store isn’t the internet. It’s not a free-for-all, it’s not an open venue where any type of wares might be hawked.

Actually it is exactly all of those things if the company running it chooses it to be. If Google wants to let anything into the Android Market then they can do that.

The whole point of these app portals is to provide a controlled service to your users that has guidelines and rules that make getting software onto your phone relatively easy and safe. Whether or not you have stringent policies for what you’ll accept (Apple), or few (Google), no one should pretend that this isn’t a siloed service that must have rails to operate.

No the whole point of an application store is to have a central place where store customers can easily find applications to run on their platform. This in turn is used to make it easy for those running said platform to find useful tools which encourages them to purchase that platform in the first place.

So the question becomes: what are your limits? If you say absolutely no censorship, does it apply to hate-speak?

Yes. The definition of absolutely no censorship is exactly that; absolutely no fucking censorship. In case the writer is unaware here is the dictionary definition of absolutely:

completely and without qualification; used informally as intensifiers; “an absolutely magnificent painting”; “a perfectly idiotic idea”; “you’re perfectly right”; “utterly miserable”; “you can be dead sure of my innocence”; “was dead tired”; “dead right”

I guess that word doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

If you say yes to porn, does it mean yes to Hitler themes that appear when you search for seemingly unrelated terms? Does being open mean accepting everything? Or do we have to set some reasonable limits for what we will and won’t tolerate?

This man is obviously a “progressive” liberal. Why do I say that? Because he wants to set some “reasonable” limits on a right. Now since Google runs the Android Market they are free to do as they please include censor things but it appears they aren’t doing so. Personally I’m quite happy about this fact because it means, for now, Google is respecting my right to free speech on their platform store. But unlike the writer of this article I realize that freedom of speech means in turn for my right to say what I want other people get the same right. I don’t get a say in what other people say.

Think of it this way: app stores are kind of like privately owned bookstores.

Yup and with any privately owned store the owner can chose to respect patrons’ rights or not.

The owner of the bookstore doesn’t have to carry the art book of nudes or the pro-Nazi thesis.

But they can if they chose to.

In most situations, it doesn’t have to carry everything because there are plenty of other places to get those books.

Not if the writer had his way there wouldn’t be.

That concept is especially true for Android — users can sideload any applications they want onto their devices. No one is going to tell you that you can’t install a Nazi theme on your phone, but we’re pretty sure that Google shouldn’t make it so easy, and it shouldn’t subject a large portion of its users to content that rightfully deserves to sit on the fringes, not in the center.

Google isn’t making “it so easy.” They are simply providing a service where developers can upload their applications without having to worry about being blocked by arbitrary rules.

So ultimately, what’s the answer?

Shut the fuck up and let Google run their store as they please. If you don’t like it get an iPhone and be happy with Apple’s censorship.

But the part that’s confusing is the part that’s essentially a lie — that keeping certain pieces of content out of systems like the App Store or the Android Market equates to censorship… because it doesn’t.

Fuck back to the dictionary:

the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts : details of the visit were subject to military censorship.

Once again that word doesn’t mean what the writer thinks it means. Removing things you find objectionable or unacceptable is the very definition of censorship. The writer is a stupid little prat. I wouldn’t be so mad if he wasn’t lying and using misinformation. If he simply stated that he was offended and wanted the applications removed that would be one thing. But going on a tirade about how these applications should be removed and doing so isn’t actually censorship is twisting the meaning of words to build popular support for his crusade.

Look I despise Nazism as much as most people but that doesn’t mean I have the right to censor them. I also despise the Ku Klux Klan, Black Panthers, RIAA, MPAA, The Brady Campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, SCIU and a long slew of other organizations. Do I want them silenced? No. They have a right to spew their bullshit as much as I have a right to spew mine. If any of those organizations made an application for the Android Market I wouldn’t demand a take down, I’d thank Google for allowing the first amendment on their store.

Sadly if this article gains any traction I know Google will most likely remove all the offending applications. Anyways I want to close out by saying fuck the author or this article for using standard “progressive” liberal tactics to justify his desire to only censor things he doesn’t approve of.

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Written by Christopher Burg

August 13, 2010 at 9:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. If the Nazis aren’t parading through the street openly, how are we supposed to know who to throw the rotten produce at? :)

    (“Nazi-themed apps”? I’m having difficulty visualizing what a Nazi smartphone app would do. Not that I’m in a desperate hurry to find out, of course. Unless, of course, it’s like those hookup-finder apps…in which case it could be useful for those of us with rotten produce and no creative disposal strategy. :) )

    Matt

    August 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    • Exactly. Frankly I think this application was a great idea just because if you saw it on somebody’s phone you knew they were a total fuckwit.

      Christopher Burg

      August 16, 2010 at 8:46 pm

  2. Two updates on the site. Seems that the themes did violate the Terms of Use.

    Update: Google has apparently pulled the themes due to “a violation of Android content policy.”

    Update 2: As PC Magazine points out, and as you can plainly read in Android’s Content Policy for Developers, Google forbids content in the Market which involves “promotions of hate or incitement of violence,” and (free speech-defying as it may seem) “pornography, obscenity, nudity or sexual activity.” From where we stand, it looks like this is more an issue of Google’s willingness to police its Market than it is about censorship — Google definitely has rules about what it will and won’t allow in its store.

    @Matt- It wasn’t a Nazi app, per se, it was an Adolf Hitler theme for your Android. Nazi wallpapers and icons and such.

    Freddy

    August 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    • I guess that’s good to know. Here I was all thinking Google respected my right to free speech on their Market, guess I was wrong.

      It is funny through to see how selectively they police these things (don’t do anything until somebody complains).

      Christopher Burg

      August 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm


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