Censorship a Real Threat
Censorship is defined as: (suppression of published or broadcast material) the suppression of all or part of a play, movie, letter, or publication considered offensive or a threat to security…(suppression of something objectionable) the suppression or attempted suppression of something regarded as objectionable.
Current Censorship Effort by Pay Pal: (this is taken from an email I received from Smashwords, my publisher/distributor of my books on Feb. 24, 2012) “…Today we are modifying our Terms of Service to clarify our policies regarding erotic fiction that contains bestiality, rape and incest. If you write in any of these categories, please carefully read the instructions below and remove such content from Smashwords. If you don’t write in these categories, you can disregard this message.
PayPal is requiring Smashwords to immediately begin removing the above-mentioned categories of books. Please review your title(s) and proactively remove and archive such works if you are affected. ”
(and the latest March 5th, 2012 from Smashwords’ continued effort to stop this censorship) “…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 associations. 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. …”
http://www.smashwords.com/press Please feel free to read about the ongoing battle by Smashwords against Pay Pal/Credit Card Processors.
I consider myself an author and censorship not only frightens me, it darkens the purest side of creation that I know and feel. I’ve been writing for over forty years and can honestly say that I never understood the freedom to write until I discovered the internet in the mid 90’s. I write Romance Fiction in various genres and I am all for the ebook industry. Odd as it sounds I’ve been looked down upon for writing romance fiction and for doing so in the ebook medium. Both of which I have and will continue to refuse to stop.
That stated, I can also say that I’ve been censored in both and not just by financial institutions, but within the “Romance Fiction Industry” as well. With the freedom found here on the internet came the fear of change, books to digital files, romance to erotica, published as an Independent Author over being with a print publisher or now a digital publisher, and this is the short list. The battles are still going on, but of all the threats “censorship” has been around since man discovered language to communicate in any form.
Can you imagine the shock a caveman suffered when stone tablets became common over walls? Or, from stone tablets to parchment pages? Hand written pages to the printing press? Each one of these advancements in communication brought with it more freedom. All have faced adversities and censorship.
The censorship battle is now on the internet and though it may be directed toward objectionable material found in books on the internet, it won’t stop there. This is not the first time censorship has ruled on the internet, remember the poker gambling shut-down? They/the government/whoever the force behind enslaving another Freedom won that one and it too was done through the credit card companies. Don’t you find it odd how we allow money processors for profit to rule our lives. Other than stopping payments from a specific business how can a credit card company decide a specific charge is objectionable/censored? Can you picture Pay Pal scouring over every charge to make sure it fits their guidelines to censor material? Can a title really tell them? Attacking Smashwords must be their way of controlling their censorship. I wonder if I should feel impressed that they think my publisher is a large enough player in ebook sales to be their target.
The whole problem seems like something a Science Fiction author should write, hmm, will they be attacked next?
I have always felt that “WE” you and I are our own censors. I have always labeled my books as containing adult content and they do because I write them for adults. I personally wouldn’t buy material that included the objectionable material listed by Pay Pal, I doubt if my readers would. But, if a reader bought it or not is none of my business, it is “their” right to buy/read what they want, just as it is my right to write what I want or for any author to write their own preference in material. WE do still have these rights to choose or at least our Constitution says we do. Seems like we keep losing our rights, doesn’t it.
Personally, I think there is a lot more to all this censoring on the Internet. I feel, and this is just a personal opinion, that it all boils down to “money”. I think that larger strings are manipulating companies like Pay Pal or Credit Card companies for very selfish reasons, profitable reasons. Let’s face it, Independent or Indy Publishers/authors/agents etc. are making themselves known through businesses like Smashwords, Amazon and other retailers on the internet. We must be taking a very large slice of the book market sales to create this type of battle. Gambling business’ didn’t get targeted just for religious or moral reasons and neither are ebooks. No, the almighty dollar has a huge role in this battle. The internet retail sales are changing where the money goes and those that used to receive the profit are seeing just how much they have lost. Now, should they get up on the table and beat it with a shoe? No, that would be childish a not too nice pout and it would let people know that they are being affected in their not so deep pockets. So, plan a strategy to regain control and censorship is the first attack of the war.
Okay, I’m done with my rant, but regardless of where the strings are coming from they are stepping all over OUR rights, MINE and YOURS. I don’t want to lose any more rights than have already been taken. If they succeed in this censorship I will lose my rights as an author, regardless that what I write may not be affected. As a reader you will also loose.
I hope you will read up on what is going on, I also value your opinions. There are sites out there that are fighting this and say it better than I. We all need your support in fighting censorship.
Author, Jewel Adams