Apple 2.0

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Apple bans Nancy Pelosi bobble head

November 10, 2009: 6:46 AM ET

A Mad Magazine cartoonist's guide to the 111th Congress runs afoul of Cupertino's censors

Pelosi

Illustration: Tom Richmond

UPDATE: Apple relented. App approved. See here.

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Someone at Apple (AAPL) needs to take a refresher course in American history -- and maybe a lesson in libel law.

Last summer Tom Richmond, one of Mad Magazine's top illustrators and two-time winner of the National Caricaturist Network's "Caricaturist of the Year" award, began drawing a likeness of every Senator and Representative in the 111th Congress -- 540 caricatures in all, including non-voting members from Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.

The idea, he explains, was to create an illustrated database for the iPhone and iPod touch that would allow users to find the name, party affiliation, phone number and website of their senators and congresspeople via zipcode or GPS. Each head was placed on one of 12 cartoon bodies and would bobble when shaken or flicked with a finger.

The project was the idea of Ray Griggs, director of the movie Super Capers (rated PG for mild language, rude humor and brief smoking), for which Richmond did the art. Griggs had shown the finished app around and stirred up some interest. He was booked to appear as a guest on Fox News next week with Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee.

You can probably guess what's coming next.

Bobble Rep rejected

Illustration by Tom Richmond

Dear Mr. Griggs,

Thank you for submitting Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition to the App Store. We've reviewed Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:

"Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."

A screenshot of this issue has been attached for your reference.

If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition does not violate the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.

Regards,

iPhone Developer Program

What someone at the iPhone Developer Program doesn't seem to understand -- not to get too Glenn Beck about it -- is that ridiculing public figures by caricature is one of those rights honored in American history and enshrined in the Constitution.

"The really sad part," writes Richmond, "is that here is an app that might get people interested in who represents them in Washington, especially kids and young adults, and connects people to their senators and representatives via fun and PARTISAN FREE way.

"Please spread the word how stupid this rejection is. Apple of course does not care what its customers think… they consider us morons at best anyway, but it's worth a laugh and a shake of your head."

Are you listening Phil Schiller?

To see more of Richmond's subversive bobble heads -- and links to an extensive portfolio of his cartoon work -- click here.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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