It’s Apple’s Party, and We’re Just the Guests There

Media Detector, a New York Times blog, has a post today (6/14/10) about a comic book adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses that Apple is insisting be bowdlerized before it can be turned into an app for the iPad–replacing an image of a bare-breasted “milk lady” with a close-up of her face. While calling Apple‘s decision “disappointing,” artist Robert Berry told Media Detector he

did not feel “remotely censored by Apple.” “It’s their rules,” he said. “We’re coming to their dinner party at their house.”

When you watch TV on your Sony television, you’re not attending a dinner party at Sony‘s house, at which Sony gets to set the rules. Nor, when you surf the Web on your IBM PC, are you IBM‘s guests, subject to whatever arbitrary choices IBM wants to make about what you can and cannot see.

If the iPad does become one of the main ways by which people access information and art, as Apple surely hopes, and Apple is able to treat that medium as a private preserve in which free speech rules do not apply, this will distinguish the iPad as a technological advance that is also a democratic retreat.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.