What We Should Learn From Comic Creators Censoring Themselves For Apple

from the it's-still-their-fault dept

On the heels of Tim Cushing's story about Apple threatening removal of a comics app due to what it deemed to be adult content, leading me to wonder whether Apple realizes that their devices are indeed used by adults throughout the world, it's worth highlighting something Cushing mentioned somewhat briefly. Beyond the obvious problem of Apple's clearly arbitrary morality, and even beyond the struggle of that comics distributor having to parse out what to do with their product, is the chilling effect walled gardens like Apple's app store have on everyone else.

Consider what occurred the past several days with Comixology and their comics app with respect to a specific book, Saga #12. Initially there was a fervor of anger at Apple, including by the creators of the comic themselves, over what appeared to be a banning of that book due to depictions of homosexual sex. As it turns out, it wasn't Apple who had censored the comic, but someone at Comixology instead. Comixology issued a letter of apology to their customers and to the creators of the Saga series, while also noting that Saga #12 will indeed be available in the app after all.

As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps. Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today. We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance. Given this, it should be clear that Apple did not reject Saga #12.
After hearing from Apple this morning, we can say that our interpretation of its policies was mistaken. You'll be glad to know that Saga #12 will be available on our App Store app soon. We apologize to Saga creator Brian K. Vaughn and Image Comics for any confusion this may have caused.
It is tantalizing to take the easy way out, blame Comixology for the screw up, and all go on with our days. It wasn't Apple's fault, they say. However, you can only reach that conclusion if you fail to understand the plain meaning of words in Comixology's apology. The only way to interpret this is to say that, yes, they self-censored the content in their own app because they feared the consequences of not doing so and running afoul of Apple's sincerely illogical attempt at being the morality police. This is the inevitable result of creating the walled garden, an Eden if you will. Either you conform to the rules of whatever overlord suits you in this analogy, and you are therefore limited in your freedom and expression, or else you act free and risk being expelled from the so-called paradise. Those that wish to remain in the ironically named Apple's walled garden must not attempt at biting from any forbidden fruit and must take overly-protective steps to ensure they don't appear to. As one commentor at Kotaku put it:
A sign that Big Brother has won is when you start censoring yourself, instead of simply speaking your mind and stand the critics afterwards.
Indeed. Fortunately, unlike any Adam or Eve, Brian Vaughn and Image Comics have other, less trodden upon gardens in which they can play should they choose. And for creators of anything not aimed at school children, it's beginning to become more and more necessary that they choose exactly that, or risk obtaining the wrath of a so-called partner that sees itself as a god.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: comics, ios, self-censorship
Companies: apple


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    heath, 18 Apr 2013 @ 7:36am

    America is all about censoring yourself

    >A sign that Big Brother has won is when you start censoring >yourself, instead of simply speaking your mind and stand the >critics afterwards.


    Welcome to a free society.
    You are free to think what you want but not to share that thought. Actually, i dont even think you are allowed to think it.

    There are many, many topics that you cant broach without being attacked.
    You CAN NOT in any way shape or form criticize Israel or Judaism. Zero.

    You can NOT have a differing opinion on homosexuality and the topics surrouding it. You HAVE to like it, you have to shout it on the rooftops is seems.
    Nothing by 100% compliance to the cause is allowed.
    You can not say that the idea of two guys drilling each other makes you want to vomit.
    You can not say "give them spousal benefits and all the legal rights of common law spouses but marriage is a religious endeavour and no, its not up for change."
    You HAVE to support the agenda of a small minority of people.
    You HAVE to applaud at the idea of Elton John buynig kids at 69, not be disgusted by it. But you can criticize Madonna or the psycho Jolie when they do it.

    Apple is not any different than america, it is a perfect reflection of a violent society that exports death across the globe, can show autopsies, zombie brains at 8pm but the very idea of a breast on TV is enought to start a fatwa.

    Its totally fair game to make fun of christianity and the various whacko offshoots which pollute the country but can you make the same criticims of judaism and islam? Of course not, the fear of lawsuits and the fear of violence is very present in both cases.

    I could go on for hours but Apple is not any different than the culture which spawned it.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Sponsored Promotion
Public Money, Public Code - Sign The Open Letter at publiccode.eu
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.