PayPal’s Defense and My Rebuttal #PayPal #Censorship #Erotica (please RT)

March 9, 2012
By

Yesterday, Anuj Nayar, Director of Communications at PayPal issued the following statement about its recent moves to force eBook sellers to stop carrying erotic books containing descriptions of incest, bestiality, rape or underage sex. For copyright reasons, I do not reproduce the whole of the statement here. Please take the time to read it all at the link above.

I tried to post my reply to Mr. Nayar in the ‘comments’ area but received this message: “A username and password are being requested by https://www.thepaypalblog.com. The site says: “Access restricted to authorized personnel only

So, not finding anyway to join the blog and post a comment, and not being ‘authorized personnel’, I post my response to Mr. Nayar below:

Thank you for issuing this statement, Mr. Nayar. However, I take some issue with your defense of your actions.

First, I would like you to define what YOU consider ‘extreme’ in fiction. It is a subjective term at the best of times. Would the destruction of whole planets be ‘extreme’? I suggest you consider banning sci-fi. Would the murder and evisceration of a series of women be ‘extreme’? Then I think you must refuse to sell any non-fiction or fictionalized versions of the Jack the Ripper story.

Your second defense is that many of these ebooks contain pictures. This, sir, is patently untrue. The vast majority of the books which have been affected by PayPal’s actions have nothing more than a cover. If PayPal objected to the explicitness of the covers, then that should have been what it asked eBook sellers to change!

And what puts your statement in grave doubt is that your company has not cut off services to comic book and graphic novels online sellers or game sellers which DO have images!

Your third defense is that these books blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction. You already process sales on thousands of true-crime titles! Books published under the erotica genre are BY DEFINITION FICTION. And as gullible as you appear to believe some readers are, I put it to you that it would take a person of subnormal intellect to believe that a paranormal romance story between a woman and a werewolf might, in any way, be non-fiction.

What is your criticism? That fiction writers write too realistically? It is the aim of every good fiction writer to engage the reader’s suspension of disbelief and this is done by weaving realism into the fictional story. The fact that you seem unaware of this only speaks to exactly why PayPal does not have the experience or the expertise to judge literary content.

Beyond that, regardless of whether a book is fiction or non-fiction, it enjoys the same status of legality under the law. So your defense is not legal, sir. It is patronizing in assuming that your customers – readers – cannot tell the difference between fiction and reality. Textual descriptions, whether of fictional or non-fictional situations, are NOT REAL. They are words on the page or on the screen. They are IDEAS not ACTS. Ideas are not, as yet, illegal.

Furthermore, your account of your actions is disingenuous. You DID threaten and bully ebooksellers into complying with your demands and gave almost no time in which to do it.

You allude to your legal ‘risk’. But in fact, you offer no proof at all of how you were ever legally at risk and I contend that you have hyperbolized your risk in the service of explaining your deplorable actions.

You protest that your actions were not based on moralistic grounds, but in fact your actions had that effect. Furthermore they had the effect of primarily targeting women, writing for women, about women’s sexual fantasies. It was not only moralistic, but it was discriminatory. The fact that you didn’t ‘mean’ it to be is of little consequence.

No one could blame PayPal for being cautious to ensure it is not involved in the transfer of monies for illegal goods. But this action, sir, has no grounding in any real legal risk. And therefore, intelligent people can only interpret it as the imposition of a moral paradigm by a financial transaction processor onto the whole of online literature.

Respectfully yours,

RG

18 Responses to PayPal’s Defense and My Rebuttal #PayPal #Censorship #Erotica (please RT)

  1. JacquelineB on March 9, 2012 at 10:47 am

    This is a far more eloquent and reasoned response than my spluttering WTF when I read it. Definitely re-tweeting.

  2. Dianna Hardy on March 9, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Yep, I’ve just tried to leave my own comment and got the same message. I’ll be blogging my response and will link it below if that’s all right. Nice response RG.

    • Remittance Girl on March 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Don’t just post the link below! Make it a post on this site! You’re a member, for god’s sake!

  3. Base ball on March 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Deep down inside, Mr. Nayar’s old fashioned cultural values are part of this decision. He conveniently hides behind the legal technicalities and chose not address the issues raised by you, RG.. To people like him, this is not about the bill of rights being violated, which means nothing to people like him, and his gang…this is about Mr. Nayar and his fucking, closed-minded, asshole, buddies from Banglore India trying to impose their ridiculous cultural values on to everyone, and completely ignore the rights of people and the freedom of speech. This is their petty way to react with something they can not open their mind to understands…Simply put, they are afraid of freedom….Fucking, spineless, eunuch hypocrites…I know this mind, and the double standards with which it works, from personal knowledge…I truly understand the hypocrites like Mr. Nayar, who can not fathom the meaning of freedom of expression…and will use the power of their office to impose judgement, however unfair and ridiculous they may be to other…

    • JacquelineB on March 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Not sure how relevant Nayar’s connection to India is to this argument – because I otherwise agree with your point, but bringing that in does tinge your statement with an edge of racial/ethnic stereotyping (probably not your intent) that won’t help the debate. Besides, as a friend on Facebook pointed out, Nayar is from London and has been in the US for twenty years.

      • Remittance Girl on March 9, 2012 at 11:34 am

        I don’t mention India anywhere in this post.

        • JacquelineB on March 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

          Comment not addressed to you, RG, but to Base Ball, who definitely does.

    • Remittance Girl on March 9, 2012 at 11:35 am

      To be honest, Base Ball, I don’t think his roots have anything to do with it. I think this was a statement crafted by a dozen lawyers and he was the mouthpiece for it.

  4. Anjasa on March 9, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Oh my, his statement was so detached and insulting. And the fact that they disallowed comments is the cherry on top.

    How can you say you’re not trying to stifle people’s speech, inviting people’s feedback… and then not allowing comments to be posted?

  5. Kristina Lloyd on March 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Oh, man. My rage exploded at the phrase “some chatter” in his opening line! How patronising and dismissive.

    The rest of it is muddled, ill-informed guff.

  6. Korhomme on March 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I tried leaving a comment on the blog article: a comment from someone else appeared (it was about images) — even if this comment was “awaiting moderation”. I’ve no idea if my comment actually got through.

    The blog piece sounds like an apologia for decisions taken in haste by people (read men) who didn’t really know what they were doing, or understood — if they thought about them — the consequences of their actions.

    A question: rightly or wrongly, I’d thought that it was the card issuers — Visa and Mastercard — who had initially put pressure on PayPal. If so, has either issuer made any public statement?

    • Sharazade on March 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      When I tried to leave a comment, I couldn’t–and I couldn’t see anyone else’s comments. So if one slipped through, they’ve already removed it.

      “Some chatter”? What’s next–”Some gossip”?

      My whole publisher account was yanked (from BookStrand) over (so they say) a cover image. Why not just ask me to change the image? (Which I did at Smashword’s request). Although that my banned books contained none of PayPal’s hot buttons isn’t really the issue. It’s FICTION we’re talking about! Geeze.

      To me, it seems that they’re saying that a graphic rape, realistically described, which horrifies the reader–that’s OK. A non-consent scene that arouses–that’s not OK. If you don’t like it, that’s good. If you like it, that’s bad. Or am I missing something in their argument?

  7. A.Lizard on March 9, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Given the choice between the “moral” “judgments” of a sociopath, psychopath, or a PayPal corporate drone, which do you prefer?

    The bottom line is that there are safer ways to transfer funds electronically. (Google Checkout works at the moment)

    • Anjasa on March 10, 2012 at 1:59 am

      Can’t I choose my own “moral” “judgments”? I mean, I am an adult and the things I want to purchase are legal, and I’m neither a sociopath, a psychopath, or a PayPal corporate drone.

    • Remittance Girl on March 10, 2012 at 2:06 am

      Not really sure what your point is.

      And I’d like to remind you that the mechanism by which PayPal effected this legal manipulation of the market could easily be used by any other online transaction processor.

  8. Femmedia - Blog Roundup on March 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    [...] Banned Writers PayPal’s Defense and My Rebuttal [...]

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