This is one of those times where I’m siding with the anti-gay Christians.
And not even grudgingly, like when your commitment to free speech and intellectual honesty means you sort of have to accept the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to picket military funerals, however much it might pain you to let them to be so hateful.
This time, I don’t think I’m on the side of the gay rights campaigners at all.
Exodus International, a Christian ministry seeking to “address the issue of homosexuality” in a Jesustastic way, have released an iPhone app. It looks like it does mostly the same thing as their website, but in appy form. I don’t have a smartphone and don’t really get the apps thing, but maybe that makes sense to someone.
According to TG Daily, the app is “aimed at ‘curing’ homosexuals by telling them God disapproves”. So, they’re not exactly using ground-breaking levels of techno-wizardry to stomp out the gay.
Anyway, gay rights groups are protesting, and over 80,000 people have signed a petition to have the app removed from Apple’s online store.
And I can certainly see why people object to it. I mean, they’re a conservative Christian anti-gay organisation, and fuck that noise. But since when is banning the message from an entire format of communication a progressive and compassionate way to respond?
As Exodus International have been repeatedly pointing out themselves, the app is only available to people who voluntarily download it from the store and choose to keep it on their phone and actively use it. Nobody needs to do any of those things if they don’t like its message. (Unless that’s actually not how it works, and I don’t understand apps even more than I don’t think I do.)
Whenever something’s going on which the conservative Christians don’t like, our usual response is to just tell them to change the channel. Why would a similar point not apply here? Pat Robertson’s said some appalling things on TV, but I wouldn’t want him banned from ever expressing himself through the form of electromagnetic radiation.
And there’s been a big hoo-hah over Steve Jobs blocking porn on the iPhone in the past. I don’t know how much crossover there is between people condemning this move as dictatorial suppression of free speech, and those demanding that offensive ex-gay apps be cracked down on, but I suspect there’s at least some overlap.
Obviously there are concerns with the impact that this kind of Christian anti-gay rhetoric will have on gay people, particularly young gay people, and I don’t want them to have to put up with a constant barrage of accusations that they’re unnatural and ought to change any more than you do. But then let’s get something else for them to hear on the other side of the conversation as well. There are plenty of gay iPhone apps, and there’s nothing to stop you making your own, if you’re technically minded enough. Maybe one which just tells people they’re fabulous once in a while. Or quotes Bible passages about love and tolerance, and ties it in to sexuality.
I’m no more in favour of the underlying philosophy behind the whole “ex-gay” thing than anyone else. But I don’t think I get to choose what is and isn’t a permissible idea to express, if I’m in favour of smartphone apps being an open marketplace of ideas. I can’t have my porn and eat it too.
…Wait, maybe I can. BRB, making a cake shaped like a penis.