Paypal Ebook Censoring?

I’ve always been a big reader, and since I got a kindle two years ago, I’ve discovered the fantastic world of ebooks.  The best thing about ebooks is that so many indi authors can self publish, giving you a wider range of reading material, most of which is pretty cheap.  My go to places for getting ebooks are Amazon and Smashwords.  This morning however I got the Smashwords newsletter which informed their readers that Paypal is asking them to remove all their fiction with rape, incest or bestiality.  They are trying to censor what is and what isn’t allowed on the site.  I for one don’t think this is okay.

(Okay, well first let me say that I’m not saying I read anything with that content.  And I do NOT condone it in real life in any way. Let’s just clear that up now.)

According to Smashwords, “PayPal, the online payment service we use to process credit card payments, has asked Smashwords to remove fiction that contains themes of bestiality, rape and incest.  They tell us they are compelled to do this to remain compliant with the rules of the banks and credit card companies.  Regardless on one’s opinions about these objectionable topics, we view this attempted censorship as a bad precedent.  Fiction is fantasy.  It’s not real. 

PayPal’s request has caused a firestorm of debate on the Internet about censorship, and what this means for the future of ebook publishing.  Most people are horrified at the thought of any censorship, while others believe such content should be restricted.  It’s a contentious debate.”

Paypal is apparently targeting indi erotica writers with this censorship, but not all of the fiction that contains rape, incest or bestiality is erotica.  What about a story about a rape victim that overcomes what she’s been through? That will have to be removed from the site just like a sexual novel.  What about books on mythology? Those include rape, incest, bestiality and plenty more.   And quite frankly it’s my personal view that no matter what the subject is, if it is fiction then people should have the right to write and read what they like.  I think their orders of censorship are both narrow minded and impractical.  If all entertainment was censored for these things, here are some popular works we’d lose:

Star Wars.  Yup, not only does this contain the infamous kiss between brother and sister (which was actually brought about by a last minute story change that turned them into siblings when they were originally planned to be lovers), but it also includes images of apparent sexual slavery (thanks, Jabba).

Back to the Future.  Marty goes back in time.  The younger version of his mom falls in love with him and kisses him.  INCEST! Plus Biff nearly rapes Lorraine while in the car, remember?

Planet of the Apes.  Okay so I haven’t seen this in like…15 years, but I remember the scene above.  The guy kisses a monkey.  It doesn’t matter she’s as smart as a human, this is bestiality, right?

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I haven’t actually seen the movie or read the books myself, mainly because there is supposed to be a violent rape scene that frankly I don’t want to see or read about, and because I still have free will I can choose whether or not I want to see it.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, in which the heroin falls in love with and eventually marries her cousin.  Is that considered incest?

The Bible.  Okay, I come from a Christian family and I know enough history to know that at least some parts of it are non-fiction, no matter what my personal beliefs are.  But I’m sure many people would argue it’s fiction and therefore qualified for censorship, and with all the rape and incest going on (not to mention violent murders, wars, polygamy and much more) many people would say it needs to be taken off the bookshelves.  It’s also the number one best seller in the world.  Figure that one out, Paypal.

Honorable mention: The Little Mermaid (she’s half fish, after all), Beauty and the Beast (she falls in love with him while he’s a beast, you know), all mythology, the majority of of classical operas (rape and incest are not uncommon), all paranormal romances involving werewolves, all manga and anime involving catgirls, a good number of fairy tales (not the sugary Disney versions but the scary old versions – Rapunzel was raped in her sleep, people.  Then she married the guy, go figure.) and much, much more.

Now I know a lot of the examples I used aren’t the straight up sexual reads that Paypal is demanding be removed.  But the fact still remains that people should have the choice of what they read and watch, even if others (myself included) don’t agree.  As an animal lover bestiality makes me very ill, but I would rather have someone read a fiction novel about it then find pictures of it actually being done, because at least in fiction no animals were actually abused.  If people are going to be into these things (and they will be, no matter what society tries to do about it) then at least let fictional sources be their go to for release instead of resorting to real life solutions!

For more information and links, you can read Smashword’s newsletter here.

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Posted on March 9, 2012, in Around the Web and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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