It really is like dominos. I was watching V for Vendetta earlier, and that scene reminded me of just that.
We began with Bookstrand yanking the entire Indie section, and then All Romance eBooks decided to save itself the trouble and just go ahead and take the plunge as well (although many suspected that they had gotten the phone call from PayPal as well), and now Smashwords is closing its doors on content deemed by PayPal as “obscene”.
I do have to say though, despite all the backlog and technical issues I’ve had with Smashwords, Mark Coker’s email is by far the most politely worded, least condescending and most helpful of the three. For that, he has my applause. I want to thank him for at least being there to stand for indie writers and publishers, even if he is receiving pressure from an external force that has no right to do so.
This is what he had written in an email that went out to all of the publishers and authors currently publishing on Smashwords:
We do not want to see PayPal clamp down further against erotica. We think our authors should be allowed to publish erotica. Erotica, despite the attacks it faces from moralists, is a category worthy of protection. Erotica allows readers to safely explore aspects of sexuality that they might never want to explore in the real world.
The moralists forget that we humans are all sexual creatures, and the biggest sex organ is the brain. If it were not the case, none of us would be here. Erotica authors are facing discrimination, plain and simple. Topics that are perfectly acceptable in mainstream fiction are verboten in erotica. That’s not fair. Our decisions today are imperfect. Please, act responsibly, don’t try to game the system or publish content that pushes the limits of legality. Help us continue to help indie authors around the world to continue to publish and distribute with freedom.
Despite Mark’s hope that this would be the end of the slippery slope, I have my fears that this is just the beginning. Censorship is the suppression of thought by prohibiting the right and freedom to say, write, read hear those thoughts. While in its legal definition, no crime has been committed, but corporate censorship is very real and very wrong.
I’ll leave you with these words to think about:
“An Inch, it is small and it is fragile, but it is the only thing the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.” -Valerie, V for Vendetta.
(Two posts tonight! I’m on FIRE! I will be blogging about the this whole thing and what it means for erotica and for me tomorrow, so stay tuned!)
ETA: More on the topic:
- The Fiasco, from the beginning–Part 1: Bookstrand, Paypal and Site Move… Oh My!; Part 2: The PayPal Fiasco Continues…; and Part 3: Indie Authors now BANNED from Bookstrand
- Selena Kitt: Slippery Slope: Erotica Censorship and Part 2: Slippery Slope Part 2: Why Frogs Boil
- Katie Cramer: IMPORTANT: Smashwords Forced to Censor Books by Paypal: Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony Customers Affected
- Violet Williams: In Defense of Erotica
- Marlene Sexton: Smashwords Falls Victim to PayPal
- C. L. Knight: Is PayPal Our Moral Compass?
- Remittance Girl: Two Legs Bad: An Open Letter to Mark Coker #smashwords #censorship #erotica and Mark Coker’s response to the letter is at the bottom. (I don’t agree 100% with this blog post, but it does bring some interesting points to consider)
- Alexx Andria: Paypal: Taking A Sledgehammer To Artistic Freedom
- Virginia Wade: Swimming with Sharks: PayPal and Censorship
- Tech Crunch: PayPal As Moral Police? Forces E-Book Sellers To Remove Certain Erotica Content
- Sidonie Spice: Censorship of Erotica is Bad and Wrong
- ZDNet: PayPal Strong-Arms Indie Ebook Publishers Over Erotic Content
- Huffington Post: Andrew Shaffer: PayPal Takes Controversial Stance Against Sex