In case you haven’t heard, there’s a powerful new censor in town, and they don’t like erotica. They have the teeth to make their edicts stick, even with big book retailers, and they’re doing it.
Who cares if they don’t like erotica, you ask? Well, you should. No matter what you read, write, or buy, this news should have you terrified.
Because, if, in the United States of America, there is someone powerful enough to decide something should NOT be available to the public, and has the juice to enforce that decision, what’s next? Gasoline? Medications?
If you haven’t already heard this news, then you’re probably wishing I’d just hurry the hell up and tell you who has that kind of pull. Okay. Here it is.
As the largest digital payment processing company, they’ve threatened to stop providing services to various online book retailers unless they stop selling what Paypal considers objectionable content. Since they have essentially no competition, the book sellers were caught by the short hairs, and felt they had no choice in the matter. In the interest of fairness, Smashwords is putting up a fight.
According to Karen Dales’ post, Smashwords is still in talks with Paypal to find a solution other than censoring legal fiction. Paypal says it has no choice, that it is complying with orders from credit card companies.
So What? If I don’t write or read the banned material, why should I give a damn?
Now, you might say that no one should be reading erotica about rape, bestiality, or incest – the content Paypal feels adults should not be allowed access to – anyway. The thing is, making that decision for other people is like saying no one should be reading about spaceships, or dragons and elves, or magic, or… Rape, bestiality, and incest in fiction obviously appeal only to a small segment of our society, but, at least in the US, people have the right to decide if they want to read it or not.
Where does it stop? Throw in BDSM erotica. Gay erotica. Mainstream romance. Fiction. Allowing Paypal carte blanche to decide what we should not read is a slippery slope. What if they dislike rap or hip-hop? Action movies?
Will it stop with entertainment? Not on your life! Give them a taste of that kind of power, and they won’t be able to resist. They’re testing the waters with this ban on erotica they don’t like. If they get by with it, when something else comes along that they don’t like, and don’t think people should be able to purchase, they’ll force retailers to stop selling it. Maybe not next week, or even next year, but it WILL happen.
If Paypal’s claims that they are just following orders, that this stems from credit card companies, hang on! Since the majority of Americans use plastic for the majority of their transactions, or use EFT from the same companies, or their banks accounts are connected in some way with those companies, then the credit card companies can absolutely control everything those Americans purchase, both services and merchandise!!!
How frightening is that?? Want to subscribe to a magazine? Eh, sorry, unless that magazine only prints content that meets with your credit card companies wishes, that’s a no-go. Buy a firearm? Not unless the credit card company favors gun rights.
Pretty soon, it comes down to the types of food, and the manufacturers of that food.
You don’t think so? I do, and here’s why. When you have power over someone else, it’s human nature to use that power in whatever way you see fit. Whether it’s a parent or a CEO, whoever has the power WILL use it, in whatever way they feel is right. If they happen to be extremists with ultra-conservative views, they’ll use their power to force others to comply with their views. Parents join religious cults and give their children “in marriage” to adults within the cult on a regular basis. Warren Jeffs, anyone?
So, you ask, what can I do?
Write Paypal and let them know you don’t need them to be your moral police, and why.
Write Smashwords, Bookstrand, and All Romance ebooks, and other retailers and tell them to resist.
Support companies that don’t monopolize their niche, like Paypal does. Those like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and other internet giants have become so powerful, they have little viable competition. That isn’t good for the marketplace, the consumer, or the economy.
Sign petitions, write letters – yes, even paper ones, make calls. Let the CEOs of the credit card companies and Paypal know why corporate censorship is a very BAD thing, and insist they drop it.
Contact legislators and make sure they know the dangers, and encourage them to find fair and constitutional means to protect Americans from corporate censorship and discrimination. (Yes, discrimination. Since women write, and purchase, the majority of erotica and romance, this policy discriminates against women.)
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to let everyone everywhere know WHY Paypal’s actions are a problem. Combat the apathy, or even righteousness, many people will feel when they hear that the banned materials contained rape, incest or bestiality. Because the next round will be gay fiction, or those portraying kink like BDSM. And the next will mainstream fiction that graphically depicts heterosexual intercourse. And the next…
A Few Related Articles
- The Paypal Morality (vanillaedge.wordpress.com)
- PayPal As Moral Police? Forces E-Book Sellers To Remove Certain Erotica Content (techcrunch.com)
- PayPal passes the buck on censorship (sherihart.com)
- Smashwords, erotica and Paypal (gillyfraser.wordpress.com)
- Op-Ed: PayPal warns publishers about bestiality, rape and incest content (Includes first-hand account) (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Legal Censorship: PayPal Makes a Habit of Deciding What Users Can Read (eff.org)
- Corporate Censorship Reborn: PayPal Bans Erotic Fiction (techcrunch.com)
- PayPal cracks down on erotica e-book sales (teleread.com)
- Paypal Forces E-Book Publisher To Censor Erotic Content (yro.slashdot.org)
- Paypal, Censorship and the First Amendment End Around (jigsawpress.wordpress.com)
- In Defense of Erotica (violetwilliamserotica.wordpress.com)
- Paypal Puts Publishers’ Panties In A Wad (webpronews.com)
- Speak up against PayPal’s censorship (sherihart.com)
- Smashwords – PayPal vs Erotica Debate Update & a New Deadline (chazzwrites.com)
- The Censorgasm (jswayne.wordpress.com)