Miscellaneous Ramblings

Bravo to Apple for Pulling the Plug on Porn

Charles Moore - 2009.06.29 - Tip Jar

In what was generally a slow news week last week, the story with legs on the Mac Web was the on-again, off-again, "did they or didn't they?" saga of Apple appearing to have permitted a pornographic $1.99 iPhone application "Hottest Girls" to be posted on the App Store last Wednesday.

The prospect of that seemed to excite some of the Apple commentariat, who waxed gleeful at Apple's evident lowering of standards. One commentator called the unveiling of the first iPhone app with nudity "an announcement rivaling the first transmissions from the moon landing in importance." "iPhone grows boobs at last," enthused The Register.

I was disappointed, seeing it more as a degeneration into the tawdry banality of sexual titillation for cash. I have been a supporter of Apple maintaining control of App Store content, which some folks characterized as "censorship" - which I suppose it is in a certain context, but certainly no abrogation of rights. Just because you have the legal right to "express yourself" with smut and worse doesn't mean that anyone has the obligation to complicity in helping you publish or distribute it.

'Hottest Girls' Pulled

Anyway, by Thursday "Hottest Girls" had disappeared from the App Store, which raised my spirits momentarily - until the app's developer claimed he had requested a temporary hiatus on downloads because his servers were being overwhelmed by demand, which was depressing on at least two counts.

Description of the Hottest Girls app from Apple's app store

However, the roller-coaster story had a happy ending, at least so far, when it was reported that Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr announced that Apple had pulled the plug after they discovered that the developer had snuck in the topless shots after the application had been approved and further elucidated that Apple will not alter its policy of refusing to carry inappropriate content, which includes (but is not limited to) pornographic material.

I say, "Bravo, Apple!" There are few enough standards left in this postmodern world, and it's an encouragement to see a company that, given the evidently the insatiable public appetite for porn, could presumably pad its profit margins substantially by distributing prurient content, swimming against the sewer tide and refusing to stoop that low.

Porn and the Internet

In my estimation, the worst aspect of computers and the Internet has been their role in the propagation and distribution of pornography, which is nothing short of a blight and a plague. As Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes, "There's something about the combination of sex and computers, however, that seems to make otherwise worldly-wise adults a little crazy."

Or a lot crazy.

I don't use porn, which I regard as malignant blight and stain on our degenerating culture. I've never bought a copy of Playboy or Penthouse or any other "adult" magazine (I'll cop to checking out ones belonging to friends out of curiosity back in my feckless youth). I've been spending my workdays on the Web since 1997 and can look you in the eye and affirm that I've never deliberately downloaded a porn image (the occasional spam one sneaks through) or visited a porn website (although some ads on European commercial sites are soft- to medium-core porn), and I've never watched a pornographic movie, although a fair bit of content on network television - and even more so in music videos - is pornographic by rational standards.

Unhealthy Content

It's not that I wouldn't find the images interesting, attractive in a crude and coarsened way, or, uh . . . "stimulating", but precisely because I would, having a fairly normal male libido. I have to look at myself in the mirror and prefer to retain my self-respect. I totally reject the rationalistic sophistry that viewing porn can be "healthy" even in a faithful (?) marriage and would feel like I was betraying the woman who has been my best friend and the love of my life for 37 years come July 18.

As Philip Elmer-DeWitt observed in his commentary on the Apple porn affair: "I'm not a woman and don't presume to speak for them, but I'm pretty sure this is not what most women want."

Me neither.

Christianity and Porn

Beyond personal loyalty to my wife and respect for women in general, including my daughters, I also try to be a serious Christian, and using pornography is entirely and unequivocally incompatible with Christian standards and ethics. As Paragraph 2354 of the Catholic Catechism puts it,

"pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense."

Addressing the issue of Internet and computer porn directly, in an address to the Bishops of the United States at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI challenged:

"What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today? . . . Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person."

Or as Jesus states clearly in In Matthew 5:27-28: "You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Porn Is Dangerous

Former President Jimmy Carter took a lot of flak and ridicule 30-odd years ago for honestly admitting that is a difficult standard to live up to, and it's certainly not that many Christians don't struggle with porn addiction, which has the very real capacity to wreck marriages, destroy families, and ruin lives, and which seems to be banefully pandemic these days, most likely as a result of computers and easy Internet access to the stuff - the affliction affecting even clergy.

I've seen it happen to the marriage of close friends of my family whose marriage blew to smithereens after the wife discovered her husband has an online mistress and a secret cache of downloaded Internet porn; she bailed with their two kids.

Reportedly, a Pastors.com website survey found 54% of pastors surveyed had viewed Internet porn within the last year, and 30% within the last 30 day, while 53% of Promise Keepers had viewed porn in the last week, and an Alabama Baptist survey found that 4 of our 10 pastors and 7 out of 10 church leaders admitted to visiting adult web sites at least once a week.

Statistics suggest that 50% of all Christian men and even 20% of all Christian women are addicted to porn. But even if using porn is mutually consensual within a marriage, LifeSiteNews editorialist John-Henry Westen points out that "clearly the husband/wife viewing pornography is looking at the other women/men in the film and lusting after them. So rather than an aid in healthy sexuality for the husband and wife it is mutual adultery," and in blatant violation of Christ's instruction.

Former Buffalo pastor and recovering porn addict Jeff Fisher and his wife Marsha have launched a new online ministry called Porn to Purity, where they share their story and their continued battle through a blog and podcasts. Jeff told LifeSiteNews that Marsha knew about his struggles with pornography and had given him a second chance, but after officers of his denomination discovered and revealed that he had been surfing porn sites when in his office alone, she "was understandably very angry with me." Hey, d'ya think? He's a lucky man that she is hanging in.

Pornography Is Harmful

Dr. Claudio Violato, a University of Calgary professor and Director of Research at the National Foundation for Family Research and Education (NFFRE) and a co-author of a 2002 study and meta-analysis of porn use published in the scientific journal Mind, Medicine and Adolescence commented that the researchers felt confident in their findings that pornography is harmful, commenting: "I can think of no beneficial effects of pornography whatsoever. As a society we need to move towards eradicating it".

That's a mighty steep mountain to climb, given the magnitude of the problem, but meanwhile a shout-out and congratulations to Apple for not caving in to the porn onslaught.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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