Apple's Response to the Charleston Shooting Is Wrong

June 26, 2015


UPDATE: According to TechCrunch, Apple has been working to reinstate apps that portray the Confederate flag in historical or educational manners.

On Wednesday of last week, June 17th, nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church In Charleston, South Carolina lost their lives to a 21 year old white male who opened fire inside the church in an apparent mass shooting. It was found that the suspect had racist motives for the shooting and was found in pictures with Confederate flags, indicating possible ties to a radically conservative mindset. As a result of the shooting, many have called for the removal of Confederate flags from landmarks and sales due to its ties to the Confederacy/secessionists of the American Civil War. I am not a history buff, nor did I really retain my U.S. History knowledge from high school, so I won’t get into the history of the Civil War and the Union vs. the Confederacy, but you should Google it if you have no idea what the Confederacy represented.

##In My Opinion

To cut to the chase: I believe that some people, companies, and even the government might need to tone down the attack on the Confederacy for the sake of free speech and historical legacy. The whole point of the United States of America, unless there is some super-secret government dictatorship working behind the scenes (please try not to get all conspiracy-theorist about that thought), is that its people should have the right to freedom and equality in life. Although we may not like it, freedom of speech should technically protect liberals, conservatives and everyone else so that they may freely express their views and opinions. A ban of the Confederate flag toes the line in the preservation of free speech because the flag represents the beliefs of that group of people and aggressively insinuates that they are not welcome in this country.

My personal and political views side on more modern views where I believe slavery is abhorrent and racism is a form of raging ignorance. Although the Confederacy represented such horrible notions and wanted to secede from the rest of the United States, it is still important that its history is not ignored or pushed away. It is true that the Confederacy should not be relevant in modern society, but its (bad) legacy should be remembered as a way for the United States to look back on how it has grown. In a worst case scenario where we completely push away the Confederacy, there will come a time where future generations don’t know of the full history of the Civil War, slavery and civil rights and society may start to regress. Preserving the history of the Confederacy is the only way to stop such a thing from happening and to make sure American society continues moving forward.

##This Is Where Apple Comes In…

It has been recently announced that Apple has pulled apps from the app store that contain the Confederate Flag. While their reaction to the Charleston shooting certainly makes sense, it also reeks of blunt force rather than thoughtful finesse. In the case of HexWar, the developer of a Civil War game series, Apple notified the developer that their game was pulled from the store due to its use of the Confederate flag in “offensive and mean-spirited ways”. Game Labs, another Civil War game developer, had their game ‘Ultimate General: Gettysburg’ pulled from the app store and both Game Labs and HexWar note that their games were made for historical purposes and not to display the Confederate flag in a way that promotes its views or offends individuals. While both developers have accepted Apple’s actions, HexWar has said that it will amend its game to use a different variant of the Confederate flag while Game Labs has declared that it will not change the flags in its game for the sake of historical accuracy and their reaction is exactly how developers and history advocates should respond. The RT article includes a lot more input from others but the gist of the argument is that Apple has overreacted and its actions are actually somewhat inappropriate to those trying to portray American history.

It is important that influential companies such as Apple help to progress society not only with its products, but with its actions as well. Big tech companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook (to name only a few) now host a large portion of modern society’s digital content and how they manage the content within their servers is very important to its customers and the digital world. Tech companies such as these have the power to build up, or shut down, entire infrastructures and “with great power comes great responsibility”. Apple needs to take more care in how it manages and controls its content to address all of its customers throughout the country and the world. It makes sense to prohibit displays of inappropriate content or views, but Apple stereotyped all Civil War apps and legitimate products have been taken down as a result. In a country that promotes a message of freedom and equality, stereotypes of any sort should not be welcome.

TL;DR: Freedom of Speech is important. Teaching children about US History is also important so society doesn’t regress. Apple took an axe to all Civil War apps, which is not the right way to address the Charleston shootings and the Confederate flag

Source: Apple pulls Civil War games from store, calling them ‘offensive and mean-spirited’