I’m not sure if most of you out there realize that there are big problems with how Paypal operates. BIG problems. Essentially, Paypal acts like a bank, but they aren’t limited by…well…any of the limitations that governments have put on banks – not in the US, not worldwide. That, in and of itself, is frightening. It is entirely at their option to decide whether someone is acting legitimately or not, and their definition of legitimately is…odd. A great many of us have buttons asking for donations to support ourselves, and Paypal’s statements on that kind of fundraising have been mixed. Last winter, when Regretsy.com was raising money to send gifts and money to families that didn’t have the money to give things to their children and celebrate the holidays in the style that the American Dream says we should, they used a donation button. Paypal decided they didn’t like it, and shut down ALL of the Regretsy owner’s accounts. They said things like, you could use the donation button to raise money for a sick cat but not a sick person. That, my dears, scares me quite a bit, as I know a great many people who have literally had their lives saved by monetary donations from the internet. My own fundraising years ago to pay for training with Hudson (after an unexpected major car repair) could have been declared inappropriate, and frankly I didn’t have another way to pay for everything at that point.
Recently, Paypal has started cracking down on indie publishing houses and what they publish. The one I know of in particular is Smashwords. Now, a great many of the authors on Smashwords, they live on what they are able to make by selling their work electronically. A good friend of mine, whose call brought in most of the donors who allowed me to get the service dog who has changed my life, is one of those people. I’ll be frank, what she publishes is porn. Well-written porn, with story-lines and characters that seem like real people. It’s what keeps a roof over her head, food on her table, and life-saving medication in her system. It’s her livelihood.
Paypal is restricting what authors can publish through those publishing houses, and frankly the way it’s defined, just about anything with a vaugely erotic content could be banned. Like many Paypal restrictions, it’s a very ill-defined, broad restriction. They are particularly tetchy about bestiality, rape-for-titillation, incest and underage erotica. Now, at first glance, you may shrug and say, who cares about porn and erotic writing, especially those areas?
Rape-for-titillation could describe most of the romance area, where there is a great deal of ‘oh no! oh no!’ followed by ‘oh yes!’, also known as bodice-rippers. Incest? Well, any time you attempt to portray noble houses in a manner that is true to history, you’re dealing with things like cousins intermarrying, which sure as hell sounds like a modern definition of incest to me. Bestiality includes things like shapeshifters in fully-human forms and mythical creatures with human (or higher) level intelligence. And underage erotica…you start worrying that your young adult authors where teens have their first kiss could be included! Certainly the works of well-respected authors like Tamora Pierce include fade-to-black sexual encounters between teens.
Yeah, there’s a lot of area covered. And if that doesn’t bother you, I’ve got one more point for you –
The people who hold my money shouldn’t have a say in how I spend it. My bank can’t tell me I can’t spend my money at an adult bookstore or an adult toystore, and that is a GOOD THING. It’s basic freedom. If the government has not made trafficking in certain goods illegal, my bank should not be able to affect my participation in that trade, either as a buyer or a seller. If we start letting the people who we rely on to move money around tell us what we can and cannot buy, I think we will find ourselves far, FAR more limited than our governments would ever allow. And that, my friends, frightens me. My bank, my credit card company, and Paypal should not be able to act as censors.
Please, folks, re-link this, spread it, talk about it, look into it.
There is a famous quote by a German Pastor who spent WWII in concentration camps. He was describing the actions of the German people, but I think it is appropriate here:
“First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Let us speak out, my friends. Paypal has shown in the past that it bows to public outrage. I, my friends, am outraged. I hope you are, too.