Sunday, March 4, 2012

PayPal conducting Book Burnings

For those who are unaware, PayPal has apparently taken on the responsibility of deciding what is appropriate for American readers.  Currently they are going from publisher to publisher demanding that certain censorship guidelines be met or they will withdraw their credit card services from that publisher.  Already, has banned all erotica, banning a number of books they had previously published. AllRomanceBooks is trying to separate erotica from erotic romance and is no longer publishing books containing explicit sexual acts without, in their opinion, sufficient romantic content.  Without notice or explanation they are eliminating hundreds of books from their offerings.  Smashwords is currently negotiating with them but appears on the precipice of eliminating all books which don't meet their guidelines.

Their guidelines include books classified as erotica which include rape, incest, bestiality, underage (18) lovers, non-consensual BDSM, and my favorite pseudo-incest.  

Smashwords is being told by PayPal that unless they comply with their demands, they will withdraw their services.  They originally gave them 10 days to comply.  They claim this is because the credit cards companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, etc.) are all in this with them and the reason behind it is economic.  That is, that porn web sites have a problem with bad debts.  While that may be true of porn sites the targeted sites are publishers of eBooks who collect the money prior to providing the eBook.  Further, the publishers have included in their terms that any return will be taken out of the author’s revenue.  So, the argument that erotic book publishers have a poor debt experience holds no water.

I can only believe that someone at PayPal has decided to “clean up” America on their own.  Perhaps it is some administrative flunkie who is out of control.  But I have to wonder if it comes from the top – from John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay, the parent company of PayPal.  Mr. Donahoe was an associate of Mitt Romney at Bain for many years and has contributed to many of his campaigns.  PayPal is a company noted for its lack of transparency in major decisions.  It would be nice if someone took responsibility for this decision and made it visible how such a decision could get made. 

I suppose to some these steps by PayPal may seem minor but censorship is a very slippery slope.  Does Twilight contain elements of bestiality, or non-consensual violence against women?   Certainly the best selling, Shades of Grey, does?  Lolita, a classic, would not pass the current censorship rules.  When companies begin deciding what you read, the consumer is left with no choice in the matter nor any voice.  As our economy moves more and more toward large monopolistic companies will our democracy be subjected to the values, morals and civil rights that some corporate officer allows us to have? 

A few other blogs about this are here:


Patricia Green said...

It's a symptom of a bigger problem, but it's hard to trace it back. I'm with you, though; I think PayPal should own up to this decision and take the consequences.

Rush said...

They claim others are involved but I think they are acting on their own.