I have never engaged in substantive political discussion here on the site, and its not something I plan to make a habit of. I only bring this issue up now, since the current re-awakening of the gun control debate has curiously intersected with Apple in a way that I doubt they ever would have foreseen.
In case anyone either wonders or cares, here is my baseline- I am not a Republican or a Democrat. In fact, I absolutely loathe the modern incarnations of both mainline political parties and the weak and pathetic candidates they routinely trot out. If that offends you, then you should probably stop reading now, because I am not sorry for it. I am a card-carrying Libertarian, and I am a Conservative by the classic definition, not the strange and decidedly not Conservative Republican one.
As for guns, I will say this for the record. I am a lifelong gun owner and shooter. I have hunted with my Dad since I was a kid. I received a lot of valuable instruction on how to handle and respect firearms while I was young, so I know what they are capable of and handle and use them accordingly. I still own many guns, but none of them are what you would call “assault weapons.” I am not an NRA member because I don’t approve of their use of fear tactics to hold a hard and unrealistic line on gun control.
You might think that my opinion would automatically be skewed against gun control in any or all forms, but that isn’t case. I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, which is very much in line with my Libertarian beliefs. I’m obviously not in favor of blanket bans or any form of confiscation of lawfully owned guns. However, I do believe that there is room for increased regulation, and I absolutely believe that mandatory firearms safety training would save lives. Switzerland is a good example of a country that has a fairly high rate of gun ownership, but far lower rates of gun crime and accidental deaths. Their regulations and training seem to have a positive impact that would be welcome here.
As for the issue of gun control protestors targeting Apple because NRATV exists on their Apple TV platform, I see that differently. As I said before, I don’t have any ties or loyalty to the NRA, so I don’t have a reason to go to bat for them here. Also, as a Libertarian, I believe that these protestors have every right to express their opinion under the First Amendment.
All that said, I don’t like this proposed boycott and application of pressure at all, and not just for Apple’s sake. I see this issue the same as Apple removing existing apps from the App Store in the past after complants. Apple (as well as Amazon and Google, in this case) allows organizations to hire developers and create apps for their App Store, as long as those apps meet certain guidelines. As such, none of these three companies are in any way actively supporting the NRA by allowing NRATV to exist on their platforms. The NRA chose to make use of several available third party media platforms. This is a distinction that is being overlooked by many of these protestors.
The simple fact is that NRATV initially passed whatever screening processes were in place to offer an app on the Apple TV platform, as well as several others. However, now there is a chance that this decision will now be reviewed and reversed because people decided to complain. While Apple, Google, and Amazon are all well within their rights to reconsider allowing NRATV to work on their platforms, that doesn’t mean this is a good thing. While the protestors have every right to express their opinions and to put their money where their mouth is, that doesn’t mean that this a positive expression of free speech.
The problem I have with the potential removal of NRATV is that it sets more precedent that online rabble-rousing will cow companies into bending to mob rule. Unfortunately, mob rule is fickle, and the tactics you use today can be used against you and a cause that you support tomorrow. This is why I accuse these gun control protestors of being myopic- they aren’t seeing the bigger picture here. This narrow expression of free speech can end up have a chilling, inconsistent, and unbalanced effect, in the end.
Do I think that it is vital that NRATV specifically be offered across many video platforms? No. Do I watch NRATV? No. However, I still don’t want to see it removed from any video platforms. As a proponent of truly free speech, including the kinds that I myself really don’t like, I would much rather see gun control advocates start their own channel parked next door to NRATV where they express their views freely and openly, rather than working to limit or remove content they abhor, but many others still enjoy. Let the public, and ultimately the market, decide this one rather than relying on pressure and threats. That’s just my opinion, but I am definitely sticking to it.
I am very interested in CIVIL comments or discussion on this topic. I understand that many people are going to disagree with me, and that’s fine. Being a Libertarian, I am used to being on the outside of popular opinion. However, I would still like to hear what you think about this issue…just in a civilized manner. Let me know what you think in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.