Friday, January 7, 2011

Steve Jobs, Censorship, and Who Gets to Choose

I just finished writing about Steve Jobs, iPad, and Mr. Job's counter-cultural decision to keep iPad porn-free.

For what it's worth, I was glad to learn that Mr. Jobs had decided that he didn't have to let pornography on the iPad - and said so.

After writing about porn, censorship, the Catholic Church, and America, I wrapped up with this:
"...As for why I don't like the idea of censorship, and what I meant by Steve Jobs' taking a counter-cultural position? That's a topic for another post."
("Steve Jobs, iPad, Censorship and Making Choices" (January 7, 2011))
This is that "another post."

The 'Good Old Days' - Weren't

I was born in 1951. That gave me the opportunity to remember the '50s: as a preteen, but I've got a pretty good memory. I also liked to read, and was curious about the world. By the time I was in my teens, America was recovering from McCarthism.

I've suspected that McCarthyism, a post-WWII economic boom, folks moving far from their roots to chase 'the American dream,' all helped fuel dissatisfaction in my contemporaries.

Can't say that I was all that thrilled about 'buying things I don't need with money I don't have to impress people I don't like,' myself.

'The Establishment:' Then and Now

By the time I'd finished my first stretch in academia, 'the establishment' was definitely not held in high esteem: not by the college crowd, anyway.

Or me.

I had pretty good reasons for not being particularly enthusiastic over what the folks who were at the top of the heap in America in the '60s and '70s.

"The establishment" then seemed to be focused on
  • Looking for commies1
  • Pursuing 'the American dream"
  • Maintaining conformity
Like the fellow said: "Nothing endures but change." (Heraclitus, 540 BC - 480 BC) And I'm not going to get sidetracked with a discussion of a mutable creation and the Trinity.

After my first stretch in academia, I was - naturally - older: and so were the campus radicals of the '60s. Many of them settled into academic or political careers. Sometimes both.

Me? I held a motley succession of jobs where I helped customers, chopped beets, answered phones, babysat a computer, and designed advertising. Not all at the same time, of course.

Somewhere in the '80s or '90s, I noticed that the powers that be in America weren't the lot that had inspired the morally challenged Frank Burns in M*A*S*H.

There was still an 'establishment,' but the new kings and queens of the hill had a different set of priorities:
  • Looking for racists
  • Being afraid of global warming
  • Maintaining conformity
    • Ever hear of political correctness?
Well, maybe not all that different. Strict conformity to what the 'right' sort wanted was still important.

And I still didn't particularly want to be part of the 'the establishment.'

'Counter-Cultural' isn't 'Hippie'

I've discussed being counter-cultural and what a counterculture is before. (January 12, 2010) Basically, being counter-cultural means not marching in lockstep with an area's dominant culture.

It's not the same as being a hippie.

My decision to avoid a conventional 'success track' career marked me as counter-cultural back in the sixties and seventies. So did the white socks I made my wardrobe trademark as a teen. The pocket protector and sideburns helped.

Now, as a practicing Catholic, I'm still part of a counterculture.

It's not that I feel a need to seem different from everyone else. The way my mind works, that happens pretty much automatically. Although I've felt the desire to 'fit in' from time to time: I'd rather do what I think is right, than go along with someone else's rules.

So I became a Catholic?!

I've been over that before. Bottom line, I'm stubborn and don't like authority. I also know that I'm not smarter or stronger than God.

What About Steve Jobs and Censorship?

Finally, my take on Steve Job's choice about pornography and iPad, being counter-cultural, and censorship. Took me long enough to get here. And that's another topic.

A staunch commie-hunter of the '50s, and a professor who never got the memo that the '60s are over, might have something in common: They'd both be convinced that they're fighting for freedom.

It seems to me that both wanted an America where folks were free to say what was on their minds. Provided that they agreed with the commie-hunter or, later, the professor.

I don't see Mr. Job's choice about the iPad as 'censorship.' Folks aren't forced to use an iPad. If someone wants online porn, all Mr. Job did was remove that person from iPad's potential customers.

What the Christian Coalition and Feminist Majority wanted was something else. I've written about that before, too. (November 15, 2010)

Good grief, is there anything I haven't written about before? Yes: and that's yet another topic.

The CC&FM wanted a federal agency to decide what Americans would be allowed to see online. I like to think that they meant well, and really were trying to 'save the children.'

A private citizen, or company, deciding to opt out of the pornography-for-all policy that America's dominant culture supports is one thing. Some government official deciding what I'm allowed to see online - or write - is something quite different.

I can, in principle, choose to use an iPad or not. With official censors, there's not so much choice.

It's getting late, so I'll skip what I'd planned to write about different cultures and more-or-less crazy standards of 'decency.' I've put some links under "Somewhat-related posts in other blogs."

Good night.

Somewhat-related posts:
Somewhat-related posts in other blogs:
Posts about cultural standards, in another blog:

1 If those two lists look familiar, maybe you read "Being Counter-Cultural: I am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been, a Hippie" (January 12, 2010).

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.