Hello everyone and welcome back 🙂 I know I’ve been bad on updating the blog, and I can offer a plethora of excuses. I do have one actual reason though. I’m hard at work on my novel (And I promise to report on this in the near future). But there’s something that just made me sit up straight and say “I gotta say something” before I get to that.
I hope that you are familiar with the fantabulous website called http://www.smashwords.com. For those who aren’t, this is a platform for independent writers. One can sign up (for free) and use that platform to publish his work electronically and have it distributed to probably the largest available distribution. Where’s the catch? THERE IS NONE! It’s THAT great!
(I’d like to refer you to a previous post about self publishing, which I think is important before you go and send your stuff out there.)
A short while ago, writers who are on smashwords received a letter from smashword, indicating that the Terms of Service has changed since the company which is used for payments (paypal) is asking. Nay, Demanding. that all material that include bestiality, rape and incest in erotica needs to be taken off the smashwords platform.
Special update: We modified our Terms of Service tonight to clarify our policies related to bestiality, rape and incest in erotica. This move was forced by PayPal, the payment processor that drives transactions at Smashwords.com, and that we use to pay our authors/publishers. Although this news may come as sudden, I’ve been in conversation with them all week about it, trying to strike a reasonable middle ground. The folks at PayPal have listened, and they support our mission, but they’re simply unable to allow certain types of content to be transacted through their payment processing platform. All authors, publishers and agents who have published erotica at Smashwords received an email notice. I also posted the email publicly in our Press Room. The slipperly slope is indeed slipperly. Let’s hope the slippage is done and this can be the end of it. If you publish erotica under themes of rape, bestiality or incest, please read the new policies carefully, and unpublish/archive books that no longer meet our Terms of Service.
After a very long silence,paypal finally addressed this topic via their official blog. Wanna read? Here you go:
At a very first and superficial glance, one might not find a big issue with that. in fact, one might think to oneself “Nice. Get that trash away from our children.”
But when I think about it for more than 1 second and actually READ these messages I begin to worry…
Here are a few things I have to say about the whole thing:
- Excuse me, but who are you? With all due respect to Paypal – Who made you the authority to decide what work of art sees the light of day and what doesn’t? In western society, it is normally up to the court of law to make such calls, and even the supreme court would be VERY careful with censorship. What kind of inflated self righteousness allows you to demand this from smashwords? or from any writer? You are a payment processor, and as such your ONLY role is to process payments. You have NO say about any aspect of the art. Does paypal have the right to not do business with smashwords? of course they do. Is their behavior justifiable? Absolutely not! They behave like a mafia, using their status (within their line of business) and the dependency of others on them to strong-arm a respectable and improtant business.
- Rape, Incest, Bestiality – Let me tell you something about these three subjects. Rape in my mind equals murder. A violation of one’s right to their body. It’s one of the most disgusting crimes. Incest is a problem, the extent of which I only recently learned about. It scars people, it kills people. Bestiality? Yuck. I can’t even imagine… All of the above is what I honestly feel towards these topics. Does that mean that I’d never write about rape? or incest? (I will likely never write about bestiality, but then again never say never). Does that mean that no one could write any story that includes issues as serious and life altering as these? Does that means that no one SHOULD? Now, there are two faces to this. First there’s general fiction. Are you kidding me? Literature and other forms of art (like cinema) are one of the biggest outlets through which light was shed on these topics. Will paypal now call Jonathan Kaplan and tell him that they will not process any transaction related to his excellent film “The accused”? Will they send a ransom note, like the one they sent to smashwords to directors who included incest in their films? or to art galleries that exhibit anything that is not up to paypal’s moral standards? Then there’s another face to this. As part of erotica. Personally, I get turned off by these topics. I would not buy an erotic fiction that includes them. That is my personal taste. But again – who in the name of god is paypal to make the decision for me? I’m not even going to talk about Oedipus, although it’s worth a mention. It’s the simple question of freedom to choose. Not the choice to commit rape. That is not a choice, it’s an offense punishable (not as badly as I’d hope it was). But the choice to read a story which might (god forbid) include a character (and you can go right ahead and call it twisted, or dehumanized or whatever you’d like) who fantasizes about either. The reader is the judge. NOT paypal!
- Why stop here? Just when paypal is on a roll, why stop at these three? What, don’t we have all these horrible books about murder? torture? kidnapping? sadism? Child abuse? Animal cruelty? pyromaniacs? Zombies? Why stop paypal??? Please SAVE US!!! we have all these TERRIBLE things in arts!!! Please do something before… before… people might READ about it! There’s a name for this BS – It’s called the slippery slope and we’re just about to start sliding down that dark and cold place. What would the silence of the lamb be without Hannibal Lecter? Or Buffalo Bill for that matter? What would Misery be without number one fan Annie Wilkes? Exactly how compelling would midnight express be with the censors free to chop everything that wasn’t “pleasing” to someone’s high moral? And it could go on and on… and it WILL. If we don’t stop this now.
- And now for Paypal’s blog post – Talk about a long and self righteous way to say the following sentence: “We think you should write whatever you want, EXCEPT for what we don’t want you to write. But we’re not censoring you.” There was a wise man named George Orwell. He wrote this book called 1984. I recommend that paypal get a hold on a copy and read it carefully. Once you do, dear paypal, please consider a major concept in this book. It’s called doublethink. It’s like… How can I explain it? hmmm…. I wish I had an exmaple of doublethink from the real world, you know… not fiction… OH, GOT IT! You can see a perfect example of double think HERE. Oh hold on… it’s YOU!