A religious non-profit group, Exodus International, is drawing criticism for its official iPhone app. The group finds its roots in the "Ex-gay" crowd -- those of us in the reality-based community may know it by its less popular term, "still gay," or at best, bisexual -- comprised of those who believe that homosexuality is a "curable" condition. The message of Exodus International is all the more odious because of its target audience: confused, self-loathing gays and lesbians. Rather than spreading a message of genuine hope, best illustrated by the "It Gets Better" campaign, Exodus preaches that homosexuality is an obstacle to be overcome -- that deliverance from your burden lies not in coming to terms with and accepting who you are, but performing the psycho-spiritual gymnastics necessary to achieve a "conversion" to straight, "normal" way of life. The existence of this app may be detestable to those in the gay (or simply gay-friendly) community, but Matthew Zuras, writing for swtiched.com, offers a different point of view. He says:
I say, let them have their iPhone app. (We have more than enough of our own.) Denying Exodus an app on the App Store denies them a voice. While it may not be a natural right that all views should be legitimized by Apple, the fact is that, even if I and other members of the LGBT community don't agree with Exodus, the organization should be given the opportunity to civilly exercise its rights. Even if the organization's tactics are controversial, the contents of its app are not aggressive and do not encourage violence.
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His article is very well written (be sure to check it out for the full context), but I couldn't disagree more. We have an obnoxious tendency, particularly in America, to think in absolutes: The logic goes that denying freedom of speech to one group puts that of all other groups in jeopardy; it could, by the same heavy-handed approach, be turned back on you. There are a couple of problems with this. For one, it's an affront to our collective intelligence. It assumes that we are such childlike simpletons that nuance is simply beyond us. Left without the guiding light of absolutism, censorship would have a safe haven in the whims of popular opinion. Secondly, in this instance, the right to "free speech" is delegated to Apple. The First Amendment still stands; Exodus International can go out on their proverbial street corner and wax poetic about the evils of homosexuality until they are breathless and blue in the face, but freedom of speech does not grant one freedom to a platform. Yes, Exodus may find itself "under attack" by gay rights organizations, just as racist organizations find themselves under attack from anti-racist groups. The difference between the two is that racism is officially abhorrent -- after waking from our collective hate-induced coma, we put laws on the books to defend racial minorities -- while the morality of homophobia is, while steadily fading, still technically debatable. It still has the support of large chunks of the public, a political party, and at least one news network. It also, rather annoyingly, hides behind the apron of religion whenever one dares utter an unkind word against it. Leviticus is inevitably cited which, in fairness, does condemn homosexuality; it also condemns shellfish (bye bye Red Lobster), clothing made from two types of cloth (so long, wardrobe), and orders the execution of adulterers, blasphemers, and mouthy teenagers. As you've probably noticed, these policies find themselves no longer in effect -- we in the civilized world seem to take against executions (and there would be scores of them) for all but the most heinous of crimes -- yet homophobia finds itself riding through the ages on the coattails of ill-education, "traditional values," and undue respect on the grounds that, were it the target in their cross-hairs, would be described as moral relativism.
I certainly don't mean to sound as though I'm accusing Apple of being homophobic; as Matthew Zuras writes, "It has caved before to gay rights advocates, pulling the 'Manhattan Declaration' app (which opposed LGBT rights and gay marriage) from the App Store last year. As PC World notes, Apple also donated $100,000 to defeat Proposition 8 in California. It's hardly an enemy of the gay community." Still, anyone with the sense God gave a bag of oranges can tell that the app promotes homophobia -- reading between the lines takes a mere iota of effort. I strongly urge you to sign the petition; it takes but a passing moment of your time, and every little bit helps. While struggles for equality are always framed by their more dramatic moments, it's worth remembering that they found their origins in the smaller, almost dull skirmishes. This truth compels those of us in the inter-denominational (along with us atheists and agnostics) Church of Sanity to beat at the ramparts of hate and intolerance, however subtle its guise. Freedom of speech may give them the right to yell their homophobic messages, but it gives us the freedom to yell back.
(via Truth Wins Out, prnewswire)
Update: The app has been removed, as of today.