With No Apologies I Make an Apology

As is evident by now, my editorial decision to publish

Charles Moore’s ‘political’ piece last Friday has caused

a stir here. I make the following remarks not to justify

myself: I believe I was justified and seek no further

justification. I will explain partly why I made the

decision, but even that not because I think it’s owed

anyone. I answer to myself for my actions because I

have to live with myself after acting in anyway. If

conscience keeps me awake at night, then it is only

because of my own actions, and not that of others which

stirs my slumbers.

First, some background on me. I am a scholar. I am

a university educator, classically trained in philosophy,

currently pursuing further training in the ‘Classics’

(the study of Greek and Roman history, language and

culture). I have been in academics all of my life. I

have seen good academic departments and bad ones. I

have witnessed the downright dissembling and destruction

so-called ‘political correctness’ imposes on academic

freedom. Last summer while in Chicago doing scholarly

work, the buzz was about the decision to take ‘Western’

out of the ‘Western Civilization’ course at the University

of Chicago. The course, it seemed, was just too white

male, Anglo-Saxon, Endo-European, and we all know how

they have brought destruction in the West. It’s garbage.

As Heath and Hanson (see below) say, the Western tradition

is something “intellectuals must stop apologizing

for but rather come to grips with” (“Who Killed

Homer?” xxiv). Traditional scholars are shrugged

off as jealous guardians of their own castles, keepers

of an old and out-dated way, threatened by pluralism

and multiculturalism, whose main weapons are abuse and

ad hominem attacks.

I have been suppressed, repressed and hidden by the

new cultural elite, the haters of the West, in my own

job and work. One of the most dangerous species on earth

is a sixties radical, or merely a multicultural priestess,

who has some power as the head of an academic department

and through that power wants to wheel their own vision

of a just and fair society which unfortunately ends

up in a new lethal discrimination that only a fanatic

could bring about with a clear conscience. Those who

were unlucky, as it were, in “life’s lottery”

as Rawls would say, are the ones who are ironically

locked out of possessing, or, more accurately, given

the chance to EARN their way. No, there are ‘special

groups’ who get to go first. Qualifications, earning

something, respect based on honest work and top-notch

scholarship are no longer the keys to the kingdom. Our

schools suffer and our students are paying thousands

of dollars while narrow-minded and short-sighted political

agendas are dished up to them as real scholarship in

the hopes that we are producing a better tomorrow.

What does this have to do with publishing Charles’

piece, you ask? A lot. You are reading the words of

someone who actually lost a position because he over-stepped,

supposedly, some bound of academic freedom. PC pure

and simple. Funny, I didn’t think freedom had bounds.

I thought academic freedom meant real freedom to carry

on one’s own research without the tug and pull of outside

forces and the demands of life; a position we put people

in (called tenure) because our society has placed a

high premium on searching for truth and goodness and

beauty. Silly me.Silly me to think that there was such

a thing as pure academic freedom anaywhere.

I was devastated. But that wasn’t the end. I have story

upon story of top-notch thinkers being roped in because

they were threats to fund-raising or offended a Regent’s

nephew – offended a Reegent’s nephew!! I have seen this.

The point is that those in power used in wrongly.

If you ascend, or are lucky enough to have any kind

of position of power, be it small or large; whether

it affects 2 or 2000; if you have power, or a voice,

or a place, or an audience, or some kind of authority,

big or small, or have earned the respect of your peers,

or have simply worked hard to achieve some measure listeners…

whatever it is, then you have the responsibility to

yourself, first, and to society, second, to use it in

just, virtuous and fair ways.

In the age of the Internet, even with these so-called

“blogs”, more people have voices today. They

may not be the loudest; they may not be the best; they

may not be the most popular, but they have it, and some

through very hard work. They too have responsibilities

to themselves first and society second. Forget about

these celebrities who think because they have a following

or fame then that makes them automatic expects on any

social topic. That’s garbage too. But be high and mighty

or low and weak, of you have a voice you have a responsibility.

The Internet has produced many voices or positions or

audience, without, I am sad to say, the required responsibility.

This is usually couched in terms of free speech, but

that is a red herring. The moment we are given anything

that increases our ability to manipulate the world in

any way, the moment we unlock nature, or have an audience,

and so on … we have responsibilities, like it

or not.

Before Rodney Lane took his life he came to me and

said, “Dave, I need to write.” I told him

he did not ‘need’ to but needed to get his medication

therapy under control. We were good friends, though

the sparks could fly around us sometimes times. he was

the best of the best or writers on the Mac web. But

I gave him a column. We know the rest of the story.

he shot himself, thinking his art would save him. It

didn’t. He came to me because Applelinks fired him for

using offensive language – offensive to advertisers

and readers. He knew he could speak his mind here. He

wanted to write about broader issues sometimes, he wanted

publishing freedom, and he knew he could find it here.

We are not beholden to advertisers. We at Applelust

are each responsible to himself for what he writes.

I understand that some earn a living on the web and

have to concerned about advertisers. Applelinks certainly

is. But if that is the path you have chosen then you

need to walk it. I will not chose that path though.Even

LowEndMac has become religion and politics free due

to advertising pressures. I understand this. I accept

it, if that is the path one has chosen. I would rather

have social pressures bought on an issue than any federal

or government solution, and in that way I am a libertarian.

I know this. That’s why we are ad-free, so far.

I have had other dealings with people at Applelinks

and other places that have concerned me. I know some

editors refuse to link to some authors out of purely

personally hurt feelings. That’s all. And they have

long memories. This is a case in which there is a

voice or power but one uses it wrongly, indeed, immorally

at times I think. Like I said, the internet has given

responsibility to many, but few possess the courage,

maturity and intelligence to use what they have wisely.

I could talk about TV executives or CEOs or whomever.

But you get the picture.

With this background, when Charles came to me I

thought, given past experiences, that people were


this articles. Maybe, I don’t know. Charles and

I are friends. We have worked together at other websites.

We share many interests and tastes. He’s helped


out here and there; and I hope he’d say I have

done the same. So when he came to me I simply said “Sure,

I’ll publish it,” while thinking “if no

one else has the courage to.” But that is neither

here nor there.

At Applelust we have covered all kinds of issues other

than the Mac. We say it after 9-11 with many sites.

I have written on political correctness, and technology

and the quality of future life. Applelust was the first

Mac site to exhort others to think about some kind of

code of ethics for our sites. No one

had done this. We did. In fact, at times I have claimed

that none of my articles are really

about the Mac anyway, but I use the Mac to talk about

larger issues. I use the Mac a hokk, as it were, to

people to think.

When writers come here I say we have two rules: (1)

don’t dumb it down (2) take as much time as you need

to make the point clear or the article worthwhile for

a reader. That’s it. I truly believe that creativity

is found only in freedom, and if anything, I think my

writers would tell you they have all the freedom they

need here.They have always, for the most part, used

that freedom reasonably. But you know what? When you

give someone total freedom, he seems to understand,

a priori, that it involves resonsibilities.I’ve

never given anyone complete freedom who later abused

it. Maybe it’s because we just have mature, smart writers

here. But I think it’s a general rule that if you give

someone freedom reason will keep people grounded in

it to use it responsibly. At least that has been my


As a publisher, I have published articles I disagreed

with. These disagreements come on several levels. They

might be on style or on substance. But I always assume

that if a writer writes something, takes the time to

put his thoughts down, that he has thought through them,

that he is willing, even more, able,

to defend those thoughts. Now this is a matter of degrees.

Some pieces I get I can tell were just thrown together

in a few minutes and are shallow. My readers will know

it too. I reject them. Sometimes the article is well-argued

and thought out, yet I disagree. I publish. These are

the decisions a publisher makes and I make them. I have

to trust my own judgment in making these decisions,

and so do my writers. And when all is said and done,

it falls on my shoulders, as well as each writer’s shoulders


Thus I published Charles’ article. I stand by publishing

it. And it’s not just about ‘free speech.’ In fact I

am rather conservative on this issue. I think one can

say WHATever he wants, but that there WHEREever and

WHENever are open to debate. The complaint against me

by some has to do with just this issue: Sure, the what

is fine, but the where was wrong. Yet

as I have stated, we have done pieces like this at Applelust

before. Long, long time readers of Applelust are aware

of this. In fact we used to have an English professor

write here. He used it to hone his writing abilities.

He talked about the Mac, he talked about random violence.

I myself have discussed a larger range of issues. So

it is not out of character to do this.

But the complaint may be deeper – this site should

not even have this character in the first place. I disagree.

We speak to a Mac-using audience, obviously. So we should

keep it that way? But if we were another kind of site

that spoke to other kinds of people with other kinds

of interests, I would still claim that we do these kinds

of things from time to time. This is not about Mac users

or anything. It’s about being intelligent, rational

beings. Mac users are humans in a world, and publishers

and writers share that world with them. Sometimes there

are events in that world which any rational being would

be concerned with. Some are so momentous that everyone,

whether they are the right outlet or not, will make

a contribution to it. I think we are at a point like

that in our society. We are about to go to war. People

will die. Our young men and women will be put in harm’s

way to stop a ruthless dictator who has violated the

human rights of millions. It’s not an issue at whether

we will or not, or whether more time is needed for inspections

and all that. These are all points which are being decided

by people with far more power than us.But I simply believe

we need to air out the issues.

What I can do, at times, not all the time, is use the

little power I have, the small voice we’ve earned at

Applelust, to talk about things that we need to talk

about – we need to talk about. At my university I have

been organizing debates and panels on whether we ought

to go to war with Iraq. It’s been heated and even sloppy.

Democracy is sloppy! But we’re an academy, and if we

need to air out our worries then the academy is certainly

the place to do it. But I also have a website, and with

it I have responsibilities to use it right. I think

at this time in history that a proper use of the power

I have, the fair and just use of the voice I have carved

out for myself and my writers here, is to use it to

talk about things that we are all, Mac users, publishers,

writers, readers, rational beings, are confronted with

right now. History is in the making. Lives are on the

line. The fate of nations is at stake. We are all intelligent

people and know these things.We beeter go into this


And in the end, as I said at the beginning of this

essay – in the final analysis I have to trust my own

judgment as a publisher because in the final analysis

I am accountable only to myself. If I thought Charles’

voice was being suppressed at sites that are beholden

to advertisers and he came to me to ask if I would publishing,

I have to make that call, and I have a responsibility,

and I stepped up and made the call. People know they

have freedom here. That is why some have come here.

I have been shut out by those with power too many times,

I have suffered the indignity of discrimination and

the collapse of academic freedom. And now I have some

power, a voice, small although it is, and I will use

it justly and rightly, and that is something very few

webmasters can say to you while keeping eye contact.

The Mac Web is full of immature editors, half-hearted

writers, spineless publishers, and all sorts who have

no idea that the power they have been granted by this

new technology brings responsibilities. Indeed, as Neil

Postman once said, “to the man with a hammer everything

looks like a nail.” And the point is, for one with

a new technology, he goes around pounding with no regard

for consequences, or responsibility or fairness. He

just wants to use it, come what may. This is mistaken.

Socrates, in the “Phaedo” tells the myth

of King Thamus who one time, so the myth goes, entertained

the god of writing. Thamus told him that the gift of

writing to mankind was a bad thing. It will destroy

memory, he says, since we will have written records.It

will, in other workds, destroy the oral tradition that

was so important to the Greeks, the tradition that,

thankfully, saved Homer for us. But moreover, it will

make too many instant experts. Anyone will be able to

pick up a book and learn to be an expert without the

necessary education concerning the ethical demands that

knowledge may place on him; many will have knowledge

without possessing the wisdom, the practical

wisdom, phronesis, or techne, craft-knowledge,

that allows one to use it well. A little

knowledge is a dangerous thing. So,

says Postman, we must accept a new technology in any

culture with “our eyes wide open.” Unfortunately,

this rarely happens.

Applelust will never be held hostage by advertisers,

or by Apple for that matter. I will suppress my own

intellectual journey and search for truth to no man.

All that matters to me is whether I can live with

the decisions I make. So far, I have been able to.

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