Essentially what’s going on is that PayPal – a company that processes online payments – has told some of its vendors that they cannot sell certain kinds of books. Smashwords, which is a self-publishing service, has agreed to comply, though the founder is unhappy. All Romance eBooks has apparently been asked to comply. What’s extraordinary about this is that PayPal is dictating what kind of erotica is okay to sell. While some of their no-no topics are consistent with many publishers – no rape for titillation, no bestiality, no pedophilia, no incest – they’ve verged into other areas as well, such as BDSM.
It’s not at all clear what kind of standard they’re applying. Even more unclear is why they get to. PayPal is a merchant attempting to apply pressure on other merchants dependent on their services to censor certain books.
Now I am a believer in access to books. To all books.
I’ve never subscribed to the idea that it somehow damages or poisons a person to read anything. All knowledge is worth having. It’s up to us, as thinking human beings, to decide what ideas to keep and which to discard. Also, I believe erotic fiction provides an outlet for enjoying the concept of a sexual practice that may never occur in real life.
Finally, I think allowing any censorship, on any basis, allows for censorship on other bases. One of my friends said a reader contacted her because she was upset about the presence of the “Christian Devil” in her books. It’s always an option, not to read. But other people should have the freedom to do so.
So, I’ve decided to close my PayPal account. I’m sorry, because I found their service convenient. I now have to mail a check where I once would have used PayPal. Some merchants, who only use PayPal, will no longer be accessible to me.
However, I cannot support their attempts at censorship.