February 27, 2012

A Call to Action - Help Defeat Censorship!!

I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this again, but I am.  Authors got word from Smashwords that Mark Coker is actively working with PayPal and credit card companies to work out a solution to the book banning that has been going on for the last week and a half.  He is not optimistic that a complete solution can be attained, but he is trying.

He asked that authors and readers realize this is not only PayPal, but credit card companies too.  Here are his exact words:

"Over the weekend, many Smashwords authors and publishers demanded we abandon PayPal and find a new payment processor. It's not so simple, and it doesn't solve the greater problem hanging over everyone's head. PayPal is trying to implement the requirements of credit card companies, banks and credit unions. This is where it's all originating. These same requirements will eventually rain down upon every other payment processor. PayPal is trying to maintain their relationships with the credit card companies and banks, just as we want to maintain our relationship with PayPal. People who argue PayPal is the evil villain and we should drop them are missing the bigger picture. Should we give up on accepting credit cards forever? The answer is no. This goes beyond PayPal. Imagine the implications if credit card companies start going after the major ebook retailers who sell erotica?"

Ominous!  A complete ban of legal content across all retailers.  This could go for traditional books and mainstream subjects.  Many books contain the banned subjects and many could be argued that it is for titillation.  Isn't a rape in a mystery novel for enjoyment?  Isn't that incest in your favorite romance novel titillating? 

Mark also goes on to say:

"What can you do to move things forward? First, direct your attention where it matters most. Contact your credit card company or congressperson and tell them you want financial services companies out of the business of censoring what writers and readers are free to imagine with fiction. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Contact your favorite blogger and encourage them to raise awareness. Start petitions and tell financial institutions you want their censors out of your head. Contact the media. The media, with your urging, has the power to shine a bright light on the dangerous slippery slope of censorship by financial institutions."

Do your part to protect your right to read what you want to read.  If you are uncomfortable saying you read erotica, that's OK.  This is a free speech issue all citizens should care about.  I've included links to some news articles that will help you spread the word.  Link to these on your blog, tweet the URL or like them on Facebook.  Send your Congressional delegation an e-mail and ask them to stop this corporate censorship.  They may be as fearful as you are to support the subjects at the core of this debate, but they will sympathize with the free speech and corporate abuse of power aspects.  Just keep it general and they will listen.  The more of us that speak out, the more likely it will stop.

Read, tweet, like and blog about these articles:
The Consumerist: PayPal Tells E-Book Distributor To Remove Sexually Taboo Titles
ZDNet: PayPal Strong-Arms Indie Ebook Publishers Over Erotic Content
Huffington Post: PayPal Takes Controversial Stance Against Sex

To contact your Congressional delegation go here.

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