May 25th, 2010

[LINK] "New Yorker's Remnick Says He Won't Censor to Make Apple Happy"

Go New Yorker!

The New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick has a message for Apple’s penchant for policing the content of its app store: “The hell with it.”

Like many magazines, including Wired, The New Yorker is betting big that readers will pay to read a well-designed online magazine app on devices like the iPad. (Disclosure: The New Yorker is owned by Wired and parent Condé Nast.) But the bet that they can hang on to their current high-end ad sales without having to make many online changes hinges on Apple allowing its apps into its online store.

And that is increasingly looking like a dicey proposition at best, as’s Brian Chen presciently noted in February. Apple routinely bans political-cartoon apps that ridicule public figures, and fashion magazines are already reportedly censoring their iPad versions to make sure that no racy shots offend the powers-that-be at Apple.

[. . .]

Remnick isn’t swearing off the app store, but in remarks at a Condé Nast breakfast discussion in New York, he made it clear that The New Yorker had no intention of catering to Apple’s whims.

“Quite frankly, when it comes to the question of, you know, Apple being stern about what it’s going to put on there, the hell with it,” Remnick said. “We’re going to publish what we’re going to publish.”

“If the Pentagon is not going to talk me out of a story, then Apple in Cupertino [California] is not going to talk me out of it either, and if that means that they throw me off, then they throw me off. But we’re going to do what we’re going to do, whether it’s to be serious, whether it’s to be funny, whether it’s to be provocative on the cover or inside, we are going to do what we are going to do. I don’t say that out of arrogance but I say it out of a sense of journalistic mission, out of a sense of fun, and out of a sense of wanting to be provocative.”

Remnick might be premature, but it's always good to let our culture's gatekeepers know what is and isn't acceptable.

[URBAN NOTE] On the end of the Bryant-Sheppard affair and biking in Toronto

The bizarre fatal car accident last 31 August that saw a cyclist, Darcy Allan Sheppard, get fatally struck by a car driver by one Michael Bryant, the former Attorney-General of Ontario, in the middle of the downtown on Bloor Street West has come to one sort of end with the decision of the Crown--using a prosecutor imported from out of province, so as to avoid conflicts of interest--not to prosecute Bryant on the grounds that a conviction would not have been possible.

Special prosecutor Richard Peck has explained the reasoning behind his decision in greater depth, highlighting the key pieces of evidence that convinced him a conviction in the case would not be possible.

Chief among these is Bryant's contention that it was a stalled engine that led his car to lurch forward and contact the cyclist from behind (as is seen in the video evidence) and the fact that Sheppard had no less than six other incidents with motorists in the days and weeks leading up to the fateful altercation with Bryant.

"The evidence establishes that Mr. Sheppard was the aggressor in the altercation with Mr. Bryant," Peck explained to the court earlier today. "He was agitated and angry, and without any provocation from Mr. Bryant or his wife. The defence position that Mr. Bryant was deeply frightened and panicked is supported by the available evidence, including Mr. Sheppard's history of aggressiveness towards motorists and others."

Allan Sheppard, the victim's father by adoption, offered an ambivalent response to today's news. Although he noted that he was "content with the result as it came," he also had this to say: "I don't know what justice is in this circumstance. I'm not happy with the result. I'm not sure what would have made me happy."

The National Post, Toronto Star, and the Globe and Mail all go into greater detail on the reasons for the Crown's dismissal of the case. The National Post article links to photos of Sheppard attacking another car and its driver in downtown Toronto some days earlier, if you're curious. The sum of the evidence is that Sheppard, who had already attacked other cars and drivers in previous weeks and who had been behaving violently with one encounter with the police after his girlfriend's complaints, posed a legitimate enough threat for Bryant to be justified in trying to leave. Sheppard certainly did not deserve to die, but Sheppard certainly did create the conditions for his death.

The whole affair has revealed a lot of unpleasant things about the organization Toronto cyclist community. The volume with which some self-appointed spokespeople, like the Toronto Cyclists Union head Yvonne Bambrick, claimed and continued to claim that the fault lay entirely with Bryant, making a decidedly unworthy Sheppard the martyr for their movement, sickens me. I am equally disturbed by the extent to which some cyclists have tried to claim the moral high ground all for themselves, Bambrick going so far as to specifically warn car drivers--not bike drivers, of course, they are the innocent in this and every other case-that they should stay calm on the roads. I am disgusted. If bikes are to be integrated into Toronto's transit system--as I certainly think they should be--then bicycles and cyclists should be expected to provide the same respect that everyone on the road is entitled to claim. Self-righteous special pleading becomes no one, and hinders much.