Monday, February 27, 2012

PayPal censorship

You are no longer allowed to buy the Bible. Or certain plays by Shakespeare. Or some of the works by Stephen King, Anne Rice and J. R. R. Tolkien. Why? Because PayPal said so!

As of today, ebook distributors who use PayPal (such as BookStrand, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks) are no longer allowed to sell books containing types of erotica that their payment processor PayPal doesn’t like. Otherwise PayPal pulls the plug on them. So what types of erotica would that be, you ask? Nasty types, of course, or more precisely bestiality, rape, incest and underage erotica. Well, that certainly is nasty, you say? You think it’s a good thing then, what PayPal is doing? No, it isn’t. Because this, my friends, is censorship.

Censorship is never good. Never ever. If you don’t want to read a certain book, then don’t. Nobody’s forcing you to buy or read books that you don’t like, because you have the freedom of choice. But now PayPal is forcing you to refrain from making that choice. In fact, the payment processor is now taking away your right to think for yourself.

Some of the stuff in the books now banned by PayPal I find very nasty, of course, but I still defend it, as I don’t believe in censorship. Or to use a quote attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” But then again, Voltaire is one of the writers who - according to PayPal - you’re not allowed to read, because censoring books containing bestiality, rape, incest and underage erotica doesn’t just mean censoring porn. It means censoring some of the greatest works in literature ever.

I wonder if PayPal has realised that by preventing readers to buy books containing bestiality, rape, incest and underage erotica, they have banned books like Paradise Lost, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Bible, Ulysses, Story of O, American Psycho, Slaughterhouse Five, Sophocles’ Oedipus, Ovid’s Metamorphoses and several Shakespeare plays just to mention a few. So now Shakespeare, James Joyce and the Bible are no good for us? They are abominations that ought to be banned? I don’t get it. I really don’t. If PayPal had been around earlier, most of our literary treasures would never have seen the day of light. Shame on you, PayPal, shame on you!

Some will undoubtedly argue that it’s up to PayPal who they want to do business with, but with a corporation as big and powerful as PayPal I don’t agree. PayPal almost have a total monopoly of online money transactions and thus the power to put a stop to free speech. It is a scary thought that our right of freedom of expression is now controlled by a payment processor!

I’m not stupid, though. I’m sure that PayPal is going to turn a blind eye to Shakespeare and the Bible, letting them survive, but in a way I hope that book distributors are going to pull ALL the titles in question off the market. That way more PayPal users would come to realise just how horrible the idea is to have a payment processor censoring the book industry. I hope you’ll join me in demanding PayPal to back off or else we’ll pull the plug on them. All 350 million of us! Please, sign the petition against PayPal censorship:

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