The news cycles today are less news than they are a reflection of recent trends in society; and some of those trends are dangerous. For example, most of us in the good old U.S. of A. think we have a right to free speech, thanks to the U.S. Constitution. We do, but that does not give us the right to say anything we want without fear of retribution. That’s not what ‘freedom of speech’ means.
This week I was all set to comment on the Pokémon Go craze and how it has begun to cause problems with property owners who are invaded by players who linger on or around private property to capture nearby Pokémon images, thanks to indiscriminate placement of Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms. Are property rights being infringed by Pokémon Go players? Yes.
Apple plans to replace the handgun emoji available on iPhones with a squirt gun emoji in iOS 10, due out in a couple of months. That simple act has raised a firestorm of protest.
More than one hundred new and redesigned emoji characters will be available to iPhone and iPad users this fall with iOS 10. This exciting update brings more gender options to existing characters, including new female athletes and professionals, adds beautiful redesigns of popular emoji, a new rainbow flag and more family options.
Apple is working closely with the Unicode Consortium to ensure that popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere.
It’s that last sentence that has helped to make what should be a simple change become yet another issue confronting society. What constitutes ‘diversity of people everywhere?‘ Multi-colored emoji faces? OK, I get that. But what if I want a handgun or an assault weapon as an emoji character and Apple refuses to put one into the iPhone’s keyboard? Is that infringing my rights? Is that an assault on diversity?
Jim Lynch on the same sentence:
Take very careful note of the sentence that mentions “popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere.” Apple is using what it considers to be the language of inclusion, while at the same time excluding people like me who own handguns and who use them safely and legally.
There’s the problem. Perspective. Apple’s idea of diversity may not be your idea of diversity and even such examples of diversity may not reflect every diverse element in society. That’s the case for Jim Lynch:
This is another odious example of Apple forcing its far-left California politics on its customer base. If the company really cared about diversity then it would understand that not everyone shares its hatred of guns. Many people in these United States own and use guns lawfully, and might take offense at Apple’s heavy-handed emoji censorship.
Apple’s approach here has little to do with those who own and use guns lawfully, but it is within Apple’s right to use the emoji characters in its products the way it sees fit, and many, many customers will have no issue with a squirt gun emoji that replaces the handgun emoji.
Where’s the problem? Is Apple heavy handed? If half the iPhone’s customer base objected to the handgun emoji and half objected to the squirt gun emoji, what’s the solution? Both? None?
This is not an issue of censorship. Apple designs, builds, and sells the iPhone and the apps, utilities, tools, and features that come with the device. Take it or leave it. Or, look around for any of the many emoji utilities that may have what you want, but don’t blame Apple for trying to find a common ground because many people would consider the use of a handgun emoji or assault weapon emoji to be just as onerous and inflammatory as Lynch does the squirt gun replacement.
This kind of argument needs to end simply because there is no end to it.
Can we expect polygamists to express their outrage that an Apple emoji only features one woman instead of two or three? Where’s the emoji for pedophiles? Where’s the emoji for liars, politicians, vegetarians, carnivores, and animal cruelty enthusiasts? They have rights, too.
Yes, we have rights and an option to exercise those rights, but we also have a responsibility to, as the knight guarding the Holy Grail in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade said, “Choose wisely.” Otherwise, such considerations become a never-ending exercise in reductio ad absurdum.