Political scientists and sociologists long ago came to the realization that one of the most significant indicators of political behavior is parenthood. Those who bear responsibility to raise children look at the world differently from those who do not. In fact, parenthood may be the most easily identifiable predictor of an individual's position on an entire range of issues.
Now, along comes Steve Jobs to prove the point. Jobs, the Maestro of Cool at Apple, recently engaged in a most interesting email exchange with Ryan Tate, who writes the "Valleywag" blog for the gossip Web site, Gawker.
On his initial email to Steve Jobs, Tate complained about what he described as a lack of freedom in Apple's approach to the approval of products for its "App Store" for iPods, the iPhone, and the iPad. "If Dylan was 20 today, how would he feel about your company?," Tate asked. "Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with ‘revolution?' Revolutions are about freedom."
Apparently, Tate was upset about some of the restrictions put in place by Apple. Among those restrictions is a ban on pornography.
Steve Jobs threw Ryan Tate's definition of freedom right back at him. Is Apple about freedom? "Yep," said Jobs, "freedom from programs that steal your private data.
Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin'."
One of the interesting dimensions of Steve Jobs' leadership at Apple is his habit of answering selected emails personally. It appears that Ryan Tate's complaint got under Jobs' skin. It is even more apparent that Jobs' response irritated Ryan Tate.
"I don't want freedom from porn," Tate asserted. "Porn is just fine." Jobs sent back a remarkably insightful retort, informing Ryan Tate that he "might care more about porn when you have kids." Tate wasn't conceding his case, however, acknowledging that he might "sound bitter," by complaining that Jobs is "imposing his morality about porn."
There are several startling aspects of this exchange. When was the last time we saw a major American business leader take the lead to point to porn as something from which we should seek to be free?
Steve Jobs is a businessman of unquestioned ability, a technological wizard, and one of the greatest orchestrators of "cool" in world history. Nevertheless, he has not been known as a critic of pornography . . . until now.