Association of American Editorial Cartoonists Calls on Apple to Support Free Speech

By: E&P Staff

After Pulitzer Prize-winning self-syndicated editorial cartoonist Mark Fiore?s iPhone app ?NewsToons? was initially rejected by the App Store for ?ridiculing public figures? and was later approved by Steve Jobs himself with an apology, The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) has taken up the cause of free speech with Apple.

In a letter to Jobs, posted on the AAEC?s Web site, the group writes, ?Ironically, Apple rejected this very app as ?objectionable? until Mr. Fiore received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and considerable media attention. We hope other apps that focus on politics and satire do not have to wait for a Pulitzer Prize before they are approved by Apple.?

The group goes on to note that the recent attention given to Apple’s rejection of apps that satirize public figures and are therefore in violation of the iPhone developer agreement, has brought some important free speech issues to light. Apple?s policy of not allowing public figures to be mocked, the AAEC states, effectively bans all political cartoons from the iPhone and iPad.

?A vigorous public discourse, opinion, satire and, yes, ridiculing public figures, are essential to journalism and our Democracy,? the AAEC writes. ?Our nation would be a very different place if early technological innovators like Benjamin Franklin and those who followed him, forbade their presses from being used to ridicule public figures.

?While the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists realizes that Apple is a private sector company, Apple is also becoming one of the primary ways people publish news and information,? the letter adds. ?With that innovation comes new responsibility.?

Fiore, who last week became the first editorial cartoonist to win a Pulitzer for animated work, is an AAEC member.

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