Speak up against PayPal’s censorship

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.



19 Comments on “Speak up against PayPal’s censorship”

  1. AJ Rose says:

    What PayPal’s doing makes me sick. I wrote a post about this last week, and one of my commenters suggested contacting the ACLU to see what they might have to say of such strong arm tactics. The more I read, and the more I realize retailers are caving to PayPal’s morality dictation, the more I’m honestly considering making that phone call.

    No, I’m not into reading about rape for titillation or pseudo-incest… but I have read BDSM books (and happen to be writing one right now) where safe, sane, and consensual is the bottom line but the fantasies can take on darker tones. I’ve also read paranormal fiction where shape shifters are having sex in their animal forms, and where new vampires are considered children of their vampire parents and there’s sex there, too. Anyone ever hear of Sookie Stackhouse? True Blood? Second book of the series, Bill is kidnapped by his vampire maker and there are descriptions of sex between the two, as well as allusions to a past relationship–which is depicted as a parent/child relationship. And that series is as mainstream as they come!

    What about The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold? Descriptions of the rape and murder of a 14 year old girl, made into a movie. Alice Sebold also wrote a story called Lucky, in which she describes a brutal rape she suffered in her college years. A well written and very inspirational story that wouldn’t pass muster with PayPal’s acceptable use policies.

    It’s censorship, and it reeks. I signed that petition last week. I also closed both my PayPal and eBay accounts, since they’re affiliated. I sincerely hope I’m not the only one, that a multitude of voices raise in a chorus of concern and do something about this. Because I don’t want anyone in this country to be told what books we can and cannot write/read.

  2. Sheri Hart says:

    Thanks for stopping by AJ. I hope we see more writers take a stand against these censorship efforts. The only thing PayPal is likely to respond to is hitting them in the pocketbook, i.e. the same pressure they are putting on book publishers and retailers.

    I forgot about PayPal being owned by EBay. off to close that account too.

  3. […] Speak up against PayPal’s censorship (sherihart.com) Please spread the word:TwitterFacebookPinterestEmailPrintStumbleUponDiggTumblrRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  4. Cindy Sprigg says:

    I have posted this on my page and shared it with many of my Author and Publishing friends!
    “Freedom of Speech…Right!” I think we are soon to be expected to bleat like sheep.

    • Sheri Hart says:

      It is sad to see so many of our privacy and freedom of expression rights eroding, and so few people willing to stand up for them. Thanks for helping fight the good fight!

  5. GreenArrow says:

    I’m, also, very upset. I don’t write the kind of material that is being targeted, but I’ve been adversely affected, nonetheless. This is absolutely wrong.

    I hope people will contact PayPal and let them know their feelings on this subject.

    Liking and Tweeting you!

    • Sheri Hart says:

      Thanks for visiting GreenArrow! Glad to hear more authors are coming on board!

      • GreenArrow says:

        Thank you for your efforts. I’ve been reading some of your other blogs for the past couple of days.

        Unfortunately, not enough writers are on top of this yet. I’ve been tweeting like mad and I’m trying to get over the anger I feel so that I can write a reasonable e-mail to PayPal.

        Enough people doing that last thing could really make a difference.

        I’ve spent the past few days trying to field the problems that have come up for me, even though I don’t write the kind of material they’re going after, I had some slightly more graphic romantic fiction that I felt it necessary to tone down and “re-shelve.”

        Where is this thing going to end? I have some planned projects that I’m totally abandoning. This is what censorship does…

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  8. […] Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression lent their voices to the PayPal censorship fight in a joint letter to PayPal and parent company eBay. Read the full text here. On behalf of The […]

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  11. […] an email today, MasterCard echoed Visa’s denial that credit card companies are behind PayPal’s censorship of certain erotic fiction. (The email was sent to Banned Writers,  a group hastily formed to […]

  12. I am really against PAYPAL,why should I give any kind of info about me to a company? who are they? if I have a credit card why I must buy using this sort of payment. No I don´t accept it. My “speak up” goes to EBAY too, they are a monopoly.