I’ve had my own run-in with the Manhattan Declaration — it was placed at the registration table of an academic conference at which I presented a paper in order to protest my appearance. Among other things, the MD states that true evangelicalism stands against the equal rights of women and against the rights of gay and lesbian persons to marry.
Well, those stances, and a little pressure from the Huffington Post, got the Manhattan Declaration app dropped from the App Store by Apple. The story from Macworld:
After some controversy and complaints, Apple has reportedly pulled an application from the iTunes App Store after claims it was anti-gay.
Highlighted by The Huffington Post and others last week due to its reportedly objectionable content, the Manhattan Declaration iPhone application has been quietly removed sometime in the last few days.
Some in the comment section there are crying foul, as did Ed Stetzer and others on Twitter, claiming “#intolerance.” It seems this is another example of evangelicals complaining that their freedoms are curtailed because their opinions are not “politically correct.”
But the truth is that in this scenario, Apple has First Amendment rights, but those who submit their material to Apple do not. This reminded me of a movie I watched this week, Smothered – The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, in which Tom Smothers got angrier and angrier about the CBS censors cutting skits out of his show in the late 1960s. But while he was surely censored, and even the Johnson and Nixon administrations had a hand in it, he didn’t have First Amendment rights in this situation. He had, by contract, submitted his intellectual property to CBS. If they didn’t like it, he was free to publish and broadcast it elsewhere (which he often did, publishing the censored scripts in various newspapers).
Conservative evangelicals have every right to be homophobic and misogynistic, but to claim intolerance is a bit of an overreaction. Intolerance is in the eye of the beholder, and that’s just what was in Apple’s eye when they looked more closely at the Manhattan Declaration. And to take it even further and claim a violation of free speech — well, that’s just plain silly.