PayPal would ban works by Anaïs Nin, Vladimir Nabokov, Henry Miller, Marquis de Sade and books like Caligula, The Sookie Stackhouse Novels (True Blood), The Story of O, Venus in Furs, Lolita…
-- Violet Blue
You are familiar with PayPal aren't you?
Almost certainly you've used the ubiquitous money transfer service called PayPal to make an online purchase, or donation?
Well, if you believe in freedom of speech / expression, or if you enjoy erotica, you may wish to reconsider doing business with PayPal in light of their most recent announcement.
Here's how I learned about this story, from Violet Blue:
On Saturday February 18, PayPal began threatening indie book publishers and distributors with immediate deactivation of the businesses’ accounts if they did not remove books containing certain sexual themes - namely, specific sexual fantasies that PayPal does not approve of.When taking a few moments for consideration of this issue, I have to admit that I'd usually come down on the side of the business. It's my usual opinion that allowing consumer choice to dictate the market will, in the end, deliver exactly what people want. Isn't that how free markets work, at least in theory?
PayPal told indie e-book publishers and retailers - such as AllRomance, Smashwords, Excessica and Bookstrand - that if they didn’t remove the offending literature from their catalogs within a few days of notification, PayPal would close their accounts.
Of course, the immediate termination of payment processing would devastate these businesses and all of their authors (not just the erotic writers) overnight.
In case you haven’t noticed, PayPal has a monopoly on the market of online payment processing. There are few alternatives, though none that are widely used by online shoppers.
I'm not even sure that the free market won't eventually solve this problem too. If enough people want to purchase erotica, somebody's going to find a way to facilitate it, and I can guarantee somebody's going to be there to sell it.
Problem solved, right?
Well, yes and no. While I do believe that the lure of profit will attract enterprising individuals to step in and fill the gap left when our friends and buddies over at PayPal decided to wash their hands of what they perceived to be the taint of erotica, I'm not going to reward the business for getting all moralistic.
If PayPal was any kind of actual friend, I'd be over on Facebook using the "remove" button right now! I personally resent PayPal's attempt to dictate how and where I spend my money. That's not how my pals treat me, or at least I can say with certainty that they will only treat me that way once.
And there's something special, something truly sacrosanct about the written word. Freedom of the press is an essential written into my rights as a citizen. Attempts to reign in the press through commerce are just as abhorrent to me as any other form of censorship.
And then there's that big gorilla I mentioned at the opening of this post . . .
Censorship of the written word is almost always going to bring to mind images of Nazis and their ilk burning books. PayPal has now invoked those images in the minds of all who remember history and hope to avoid repeating it's mistakes.
|Nazis raid the Institute for Sex Research Library|
When the Nazi's started burning books, one of their first targets was the "decadence" of places like the Institute for Sex Research Library.
Sadly, as my friend Cherub recently pointed out, our race is made up of individuals like John Muir, but also those like Joseph Goebbels.
Guess which model PayPal has decided to follow?