Have you been following PayPal’s attempted crackdown on e-book retailers that they have deemed to be selling obscene and objectionable content?
Writer J.S. Wayne has a great post on his blog about why all of us should care about these censorship efforts, even if we’re not writing the type of erotica that is currently in PayPal’s cross-hairs. Jane at Dear Author has another good overview here, along with a letter from Smashwords founder Mark Coker, who is bowing to PayPal’s strong arm efforts to avoid serious disruption to his business. (You’ll have to scroll past the depressing news about author Kay Manning’s plagiarism of her fellow romance authors.)
Here’s an excerpt from Coker’s letter to Smashwords erotica authors advising them of PayPal’s demands:
Like many writers, censorship of any form greatly concerns me . . . [redacted] it’s a slippery slope when we allow others to control what we think and write. Fiction is fantasy. It’s not real. It unfolds in our imagination. I’ve always believed fiction writers and readers should have the freedom to explore diverse topics and situations in the privacy of their own mind. From an imagination perspective, erotica is little different from a literary novel that puts us inside the mind of farm animals (1984), or a thriller novel that puts us inside the mind of a terrorist, or a horror novel that puts us inside the mind of an axe-murderer or their victim. All fiction takes us somewhere. We read fiction to be moved, and to feel. Sometimes we want to feel touched, moved, or disturbed. A reader should have the right to feel moved however they desire to be moved.
I’m tired of corporations trying to impose their moral values on me. Susan G. Komen anyone? In the case of PayPal’s objection to “pseudo-incest” (consensual sex between step-sister and step-brother, for example) PayPal is attempting to censor an act that is not even illegal.
If you’re as outraged as I am by this, please sign the petition to protest PayPal’s censorship efforts, and consider canceling your PayPal account if you have one.
This concerns all of us because we don’t know what’s next on PayPal’s list of objectionable material.