PayPal passes the buck on censorship

Did you see yesterday’s news release from Smashwords founder Mark Coker? Smashwords continues negotiations with PayPal and has extended the deadline for authors/publishers/agents to voluntarily remove the books PayPal has deemed objectionable and obscene.

Coker says there’s a “glimmer of hope” and PayPal may allow certain themes as long as they are incidental to the plot and not major themes. O-kay. And who’s going to judge that? PayPal?

According to Coker, “PayPal is trying to implement the requirements of credit card companies, banks and credit unions. This is where it’s all originating. These same requirements will eventually rain down upon every other payment processor.”

Who knows what to believe. I think we’ve all received enough porn spam to know there is any manner of adult content out there – DVDs, toys, bondage gear and much more – that is readily available to anyone with a credit card. Google “barely-legal” and you’ll come up with all sorts of sites willing to take your money and hook you up with a DVD or even an online “chat.” With a REAL GIRL. But FICTION along the same lines is not going to be allowed. WTF?

This smacks to me of passing the buck and obfuscating the truth.

Coker does encourage everyone to keep blogging and tweeting and drawing attention to this issue—as long as you’re not pointing fingers at Smashwords and the other retailers that are caving to PayPal’s pressure. (Bookstrand has already pulled ALL indie published titles, not just erotica, rather than fight this battle.)

Here’s what he says—this at least I agree with:

“Even if you don’t publish in the categories directly impacted by this crackdown, this campaign matters to you. What can you do to move things forward? First, direct your attention where it matters most. Contact your credit card company or congressperson and tell them you want financial services companies out of the business of censoring what writers and readers are free to imagine with fiction. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Contact your favorite blogger and encourage them to raise awareness. Start petitions and tell financial institutions you want their censors out of your head. Contact the media. The media, with your urging, has the power to shine a bright light on the dangerous slippery slope of censorship by financial institutions.”

Still bugs me that it’s always sex in everyone’s cross-hairs. Meanwhile I can read or view any manner of content that showcases sadistic violence. Dexter anyone?


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