back to article Steve Jobs had 'personal moral failures', was no role model

After Britain's Chief Rabbi criticised the consumerism of the late Great High Priest of Apple, a professor of applied ethics at Hofstra University has joined the crew of Jobs-knockers, saying that we shouldn't venerate the Apple CEO because of his well-documented bad behaviour. Blogging on Psychology Today, Arthur Dobrin told …


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  1. Captain TickTock


    ...says it all

    1. Annihilator Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Not least

      Exchange "Steve Jobs" for pretty much any CEO of a company. Hard-faced, cutting and decisive generally comes with the territory

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Before I read this I didn't know in which continent Hofstra U exists...

    And I still don't...

    1. Magnus Ramage

      Well I didn't know either. But Google does, and now I do in roughly one second. I don't think it was an especially relevant fact for the article.

    2. Armando 123

      According to Bill Cosby, Hofstra used to play Temple in football, so I'm guessing they're in the eastern US. But just to be sure, I'm going to listen to "Why Is There Air?" a few times.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "parked in handicapped spaces"


    Did "handicapped people make handicapped faces"

    "I'm an a**hole" "he's an a**hole" "what an a**hole"

    That's mine with the Dennis Leary DVD in the pocket.

  4. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Oh please, we all know top businessmen will have a superiority complex. Plus there's plenty of sociopaths in the top ranks of big business.

  5. jeffo


    I think Steve would have called this guy a bozo.

    I notice he waits until he's dead. I bet he wouldn't have f**king said this to his face.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He'd have to dig a bit first.

  6. Joe K


    You lost me at the word "rabbi".

    1. Armando 123

      Same here. I thought about a local kosher deli, and then of corned beef, matzoh ball soup, kartoffelkuchen, ... Dang, is it lunch time yet?

  7. Captain Underpants
    Thumb Up

    The guy does, overall, have a point.

    Modern western culture demonstrates an inability to distinguish between the individual and the achievements of the individual, so very often we end up with individuals being unquestioningly celebrated as geniuses instead of recognising their achievements as being noteworthy.

    It's not just Jobs either - it happened with Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse and countless others. It's the same way that when talking about Kurt Cobain nobody ever mentions that, tragic though his case was, perhaps taking heroin to help cope with a stomach ulcer was not a smart thing to do.

    Bloody simian brains, making it easier to relate to other simians on daft grounds like "S/he was alright, someone you'd get on with if you met 'em down the pub" than on grounds like "A moody but exceptionally talented artist/musician/athlete/goat-herder".

    1. Sean Baggaley 1

      "The guy does, overall, have a point."

      No he fucking well doesn't.

      A quote from a bloody Rabbi nobody's heard of is mainstream news now? If I went around claiming to believe in a fairy who lives in the sky, I'd be *sectioned*, not quoted.

      Jesus Horatio Fogharty Christ in a kebab, why are we seeing articles about lunatics who clearly have such a frail grip on reality? I stopped believing in my invisible friend when I was *six*. What's his excuse?

      And this arse has the balls to lecture *us* about worshiping arseholes? Has he actually *read* the Torah? His "god" is a heartless, unfeeling, complete and utter narcissistic bastard! (Seriously: look at those famous Ten Commandments and note how far down "Don't kill people" comes on the list.)

      Thanks, but I'll rely on my own moral compass.


      Now for the main feature rant. This rant is rated "Unsuitable for people" by the BBRC.

      Jobs' personal life had precisely sod all to do with his being a good CEO. Neither did *anyone* at Apple—least of all Jobs himself—ever try to portray him as some kind of demigod. THAT was entirely the hypocritical media's decision. A media that's now enjoying the process of ripping apart the highly fictional image THEY created.

      Yes, Jobs was arrogant. Yes, he had personality issues. So did Edison (who'd send the heavies around to anyone trying to make a movie in New York—hence Hollywood). So did many others.

      Silvio Berlusconi, Rupert Murdoch, Robert Maxwell, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, George W. Bush... The list of fuckwads who've achieved success (if not necessarily "greatness") in life is endless. Some of them were even elected. Multiple times. (Yes, Germany, I'm looking at you while attempting to avoid Godwin's Law.)

      Remember: a CEO is someone who *runs* a company, instead of merely working for one. It takes some serious self-confidence and chutzpah to run a company like Apple and turn it from a financial basket-case into a commercial success. And you really don't get to do that by being nice.

      Yes, there are a tiny, tiny minority who are fanatical about Apple's products, but there are equally fanatical fruitcakes who consider Android, or all things with a "free software" or "open source" tag nailed on to be The One True Way, and they don't shut the f*ck up either. Even Microsoft has its die-hard fans.

      You get loony fanatics *everywhere*. Star Trek fans. Star Wars fans who hate Jar-Jar Binks with a passion. Star Wars fans who didn't think he ruined what was a perfectly decent kid's action adventure movie. Doctor Who fans who write fan-fiction involving David Tennant's portrayal, and a female Dalek. (I guarantee you that exists. If it doesn't, it very soon will. This is the internet, after all.)

      This shit is *normal*. Obsessives are gonna obsess. You can't stop that. Especially in IT, where Autism Spectrum Disorder is as common as sociopathy is in management circles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You do know that the article was about stuff said by someone who wasn't a Rabbi don't you?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what I'd like to know is ....

    what's the penalty for jumping on the bandwagon solely for the purpose of self-publicity?

    fanboi veneration or detractor hate ... all the same to me

    1. Gil Grissum

      That's pretty much it. Attention grabbing narcissism plus a happy helping of jealousy for the fact that people aren't standing in line to buy the Rabbi's BS.

  9. jake Silver badge

    Idiots abound.

    Steve was a good neighbor, and a friend.

    I don't personally use any Apple hardware.

    Bringing religion into it belittles the idiot bringing religion into it. As usual.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I thought Steve bought religion into it, when he became a Buddhist...

      1. jake Silver badge

        @AC 17:00

        When done right, Buddhism isn't a religion, it's a way of life. I know more than a few Lutherans and Jews who are practicing Buddhists.

    2. Geoffrey W

      @Good neighbo(u)r and friend

      I'm sure he was, but, with all respect, that is irrelevant. He was also a lousy father to his first daughter. Can we define the man based solely on any of these facts? Nope. He was all of these things and we are stupid to ignore the bits we don't like.

      Anyway, I suspect that the professor was reacting, as are so many of us, not so much to Steve Jobs the man, but rather to the overwhelming gush of nauseating sycophancy that flooded the internet and more traditional media following his death. It isn't personal. It just needs some balance to de-sanctify the guy. If ever a word was overused to the point of meaninglessness it is the word genius. He wasnt a genius. He was clever and he knew some clever people and he knew how to use them. He was successful in economic terms; maybe not so much in other ways. He knew and did some stupid things too; some of that hippy stuff I have read you being scathing about in others from time to time.

      How do I get sucked into these things? Enough! :-)

  10. John Goodwin 4

    It's like the 70s again

    Handicapped? Come on El Reg.

    1. Cryo

      Being 'politically correct' on this is kind of silly. The term simply refers to one being at a disadvantage in a particular situation. If one wasn't at a disadvantage related to making their way into a business from their parked car, then they wouldn't need a closer parking space.

      Really, If you think about it, the term 'disabled' sounds worse, implying the person is broken and nonfunctional, rather than just at a disadvantage.

    2. Darren Barratt

      Is handicapped on the list of unwords this week? I must have missed the news letter.

      1. usbac

        @Darren Barratt

        Yeah, Darren, you missed the part where a bunch of fucking politically correct asshats go around trying their best to be offended by everything they hear or read.

        You really need to get with the program...

    3. bumpy

      The 70's

      You'd prefer something from the 00's, like "differently-abled?"

  11. Naughtyhorse

    let's not be fooled into thinking that he was a good person.

    well hes preaching to the choir here :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stallman put it better.

  13. Asgard

    @"Whether genius requires such narcissism"

    Genius most definitely doesn't require narcissism, although narcissists would be more than happy to disagree with this, as they very much want to promote themselves as better than others, but that doesn't make them better, it just makes them narcissistic.

    Geniuses are better because they are smarter than others. Narcissists just think they are and want others to think that as well. There is a difference, but not in the mind of a Narcissist.

  14. SiempreTuna

    He was an evil a-hole

    .. who wasn't too bad at picking hardware designs.

    Well, ignoring everything he picked outside of Apple.

    And the duds he picked since he got back.

    1. Ramazan

      re: ignoring everything he picked outside of Apple

      Why so? Pixar is bad? Or NeXT was?

  15. Alistair Wall

    Proverbs 29:18

    is in the Old Testament.

  16. AJames

    Can't have that, can we?

    Tsk, tsk! Personal moral failures in one of our technology leaders? We can't have that, no more than we could tolerate it in our political or religious leaders. Thank goodness that never happens. It would be petty to say that this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  17. Hasham

    People who live in glass houses...

    Steve Jobs was a self-absorbed scumbag, it's true, but a more extreme example of that personality type is available to pastors and rabbi's everywhere, if only they would look at their own holy texts. And compared to the self-absorbed scumbag they'll find therein, Steve is only responsible for the death and suffering of a fraction of humanity.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Death and dispair

      I have occasionally. Even pissed off with some of the kit/hardware but blaming Jobs for death seems a little harsh

  18. Anonymous Coward

    It's idiotic... idolize someone just because he made cool products.

    Why should we expect him to be good or bad or anything? Why should we care?

    Henry Ford made some important products too and was just as fussy about the design (or at least the color). We don't idolize him or berate him for being an b*stard (and I have no idea which of the two he was, nor do I care)...

    1. DanceMan
      Thumb Down

      Henry was a b*astard

      At least an anti-Semitic one. Wrote and a published a book attacking Jews in the early twenties.

  19. SiempreTuna
    Thumb Up


    B*stard. No question.

    Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint"

    So where there's no i-Product, people cast off the Apple handcuffs. Works for me ..

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Top of the list...

    "Top of the hit list is Steve's much-discussed poor treatment of his first daughter; according to the recent Walter Isaacson biography, he had refused to acknowledge paternity until compelled to do so by a court order."

    What do you mean "according to the recent Walter Isaacson biography"? It's according to just every blinking article or book that touches upon the subject of Jobs's relationship to his first born... Isaacson wasn't exactly having to rummage around in the closet to produce that skeleton.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      RE: Top of the list

      Still it was in the recent Walter Isaacson biography. Did you misplace the "first" word.

  21. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Oh he's just jealous

    The Rabbi's Ten Holy Tablets look decidedly out of date when compared with His Jobsness' Two Holy Tablets (if we're not counting the Newton).

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Cheap propaganda

    Sure, now that the man has died some nay-sayers gather up and finally see the opportunity to give the world a piece of their mind on how things /really/ were. According to them of course.

    I don't say its bad to criticize the stuff Mr. Jobs has done or question his motives on some of his decisions. But to start personal attacks like these is pretty cheap in my book, especially since he can no longer talk back.

    Where were these criticasters when Mr. Jobs was still alive? Probably too afraid to openly criticize him because oh my.. Maybe Mr. Jobs would have banned them from all known Apple stores on the planet.

    Give it a rest already and move on to things which currently matter.

    Says a Windows user who's happily using non-Apple hardware or software and also has some very critical and biased opinions on the Apple company itself.

    1. Bucky 2

      I also tend to find the new anti-Jobs sentiment to be a little mean spirited.

      My perception is it's a reaction to financial analysts wringing their hands and asking of the stars, "What, oh what will become of Apple without Steve Jobs?"

      Perhaps Jobs was a visionary. Perhaps he was a dick. Perhaps both.

      But the success of Apple was created by teams of engineers all working together and lending their expertise to the finished products. Not just one guy.

      The financial analysts all need to take a Valium and chillax.

  23. joe.user
    Big Brother

    ALL people that "smart" are really just nuts

    The elevator that only goes to the top, doesn't stop on all floors....

  24. ScissorHands

    Oh come on!

    There's a classic joke about Steve's habit of parking on handicapped spaces, attributed to Jean Louis Gassée (then Apple's hardware director, later of Be).

    "I didn't know those parking spaces were meant for the *emotionally* handicapped"

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hum, Google Says..

    Arthur Dobrin About 82,700 results

    Steve Jobs About 288,000,000 results

    Arthur did for me, well naff all.

    Steve did for me, well lots, released me from the shackles of CRAPOS, made me a lot less grumpy.

    Will Arthur be remembered in History, nope, don't think so, will Steve, yep

  26. Ian Ferguson

    A 'professor of applied ethics' backs up his argument by quoting from the Bible.


    (I'm not defending Jobs btw. Iconic person was actual human shocker)

  27. Gannon (J.) Dick


    Apple's capture and trademarking of complex number notation z={Re} + i{Im} should cement the Sociopath Legend.

    In the end, it is Andy Warhol's Enduring Gift of ONLY 15 minutes of fame which will save the human race form further "Steve Jobs: Asshole or Narcissist ?" foolishness.

  28. Bobthegate

    Clay feet

    I bet the Rabbi will not reveal his clay feet, don't you just love the holier than thou types!

  29. John Savard Silver badge

    The Company They Keep

    Very shortly after the death of Steve Jobs, those nice people in the U.S. who picket the funerals of American soldiers who died in Afghanistan and Iraq told us that he was burning in Hell, since he did not give God the glory for his achievements, and he encouraged sin.

    Now more respectable people are jumping on the bandwagon.

    Even if their points are valid, to most of us, Steve Jobs is important for what he has done for us, and his faults are between him and those affected by them. That may be selfish of us, of course.

  30. Jonski

    Religious tract FAIL

    When someone uses their holy book to moralise, and that holy book contains genocide, gang rape, infanticide, genital mutilation and a host of other nasties and portrays this as morally just, then they can fuck off and take their god with them.

    Just sayin'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes, because none of those things occur in any other history books...

  31. maccy

    Life of Steve.

    Steve's not a "very naughty boy". He's the messiah.

  32. All names Taken

    Hmmm - maybe the well illuminated luminary might posit an example of high moral fibre in action?

  33. Microphage

    Personal moral failures?

    Jobs personal moral failures are his own business unless they impact the rest of us. How about comparing how many times Apple/Jobs have been in court as compared to other financially sucessful IT companies/visionaries. Lets start with Steve Jobs:

    1. Refused to acknowledge paternity of first daughter until paternity test.

    2. Was fussiness about flowers in hotel rooms.

    3. Parked in handicapped spaces.

    4. Broke speed limit.

    5. Yell at cops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sorry ...

      But are you saying he was up before the beak for being picky about his primroses? I rather think not.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember... there's a Book of Jobs in the Bible...

    "The book of Jobs tells the story of an extremely righteous man named Jobs, who was very prosperous and had seven 'sons' and three 'daughters'".

    The sons and daughters clearly refer to products in Apple's range. And more conclusively, seven + three = ten, the sacred number of the daemons known as OS X.

    And as for 'eating' the Apple and being ejected from the walled garden...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Albert Einstein was a genius.

    Brian Kernighan was brilliant.

    Steve Jobs was a clever prick.

    1. Baudwalk

      >>>Brian Kernighan was brilliant.<<<

      What do you mean "was"? Is he dead too (like, say, Dennis Ritchie)? ;-)

  36. Stevie Silver badge


    Dear God,

    the man was Satan made manifest and I for one shall buy no more of his Products From The Pit.

    Unless they, you know, get cheaper.

  37. Stephen 10

    I missed Steve being declared a genius

    Can someone point me at his seminal scientific thesis? Or great work of music or art? I thought he was just a businessman who achieved a large amount of personal wealth through monomaniacal practises.

    Smart sure, genius not close.

  38. Lord Lien

    "it this which prevents me from holding him up as an icon for young people"

    So who does?

    1. n4blue

      Jobs is clearly an icon whether or not anyone 'holds him up' as one:

  39. LarsG

    WHAT EVER YOU DO........

    don't insult the Messiah Jobs or you are likely to be down voted by all the tree hugging, left wing, liberal, namby-pamby, anti establishment, CND supporting, luvvie following, blinkered, apple loving, Guardian reading Apple owning, iOS 5 moaning, self important army of nobodys.

  40. Baudwalk

    And this is news to whom?

    "There's nothing evil about Bill Gates and there's nothing nice about Steve Jobs" -- Chuck Peddle

    Or something to that effect. It's years since I read "The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore".

    Highly recommended BTW, if you like your computing history. And for anyone who doesn't know who Chuck Peddle is.

  41. IT-SEC

    Apple Zombies

    Jobs got WAY too much credit for things he never created. For whatever reason the Apple fan base loved the guy, but I will never understand such silly dedication to a company.

    This is the same company that charges its customers full price to replace broken glass on iPhones at $199, while they take full profit and resell your phone on the down low.

    Jobs also gave MAC user's NO BLUE RAY in his typical greedy overcontrol fashion. Sorry MAC users, but it appears many of you would follow Jobs off a cliff... I will have NO part in that.

  42. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. BoxedSet

    Steve Jobs an icon? Yeah, the one with a tombstone on it....

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