Apple claims the Tiger Woods editorial cartoon app that MSNBC.com’s Daryl Cagle submitted was against the company’s policy of “ridiculing a public figure.” Which would seem fair enough if only Apple hadn’t approved of similar apps mocking political leaders, such as President Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin.
In a letter to Cagle, the powers-that-be at the Apple App store wrote:
Thank you for submitting Tiger Woods Cartoons to the App Store. We’ve reviewed Tiger Woods Cartoons and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.17 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:
Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”
When did it become okay to ridicule the President of the United States, but not an athlete like Tiger Woods? While I understand that the TW cartoon compilation (see examples via Cagle’s blog here) is a little racier than the political ones (as far as I’ve seen), let’s face it — almost anything (at least sex scandal-related) is fair game since Tiger became a punchline on multiple SNL skits. Maybe Steve Jobs is just a loyal fan?
Seriously, though, with the growing prevalence of Apple-controlled devices, isn’t it a little disturbing to think of its power over what content is appropriate? Cagle appears just as baffled and concerned in his blog:
Editorial cartoons are the best measure of the freedom of a nation. Cartoonists in Cuba have never drawn Fidel Castro; cartoonists in Egypt can’t draw their President Hosni Mubarek; cartoonists in China don’t draw their president Hu Jintao. Authoritarian regimes always turn first to control the cartoonists, and forbid them from “ridiculing public figures.”
Interesting point. Like Cagle, I’m not keen on the idea of Apple determining which public figures are acceptable to ridicule. Sure, the company reserves the right to control content, but there’s a fine line between playing benevolent moderator and the big, bad tyrant. I’d like to believe the discrepancy in its policies will eventually be corrected. You know, after Mr. Jobs’ inbox is flooded with thousands of complaints.
Oh hell, I just want my damn iPad to arrive in the mail already. Apple set the ambiguous shipping date for “late April” — it’s April 27.