Is It Really Censorship?

I wrote last week about PayPal’s Censorship. In it I said that while I believe PayPal is not enforcing its new requirements equitably, they have the right to do so. They just have to be willing to accept the economic consequences of that decision.

Kris Rusch, states it even better in this post, with which I substantially agree. PayPal is responding to pressure from clients it can not afford to lose: the big credit card and financial companies. Companies that don’t want their brand associated with bestiality, incest, and rape for titillation. The loss of business from indie publishers (who write most of that category of fiction) is miniscule compared to the potential loss of revenue from MasterCard, Visa, etc.  It’s a business decision, on both their parts.

Branding is an important thing for all businesses. But would the credit cards really be tarnished by a few sales of raw erotica?  Maybe not. But why should they take the chance? They’re not making much money off it. And every business has the right to decide who they’ll do business with as long as their decision isn’t based on race, religion, country of origin, etc.

Kris argues that making something harder to buy isn’t censorship. So I looked up censor in the Random House Websters Unabridged dictionary. “. . . 2. Any person who supervises the manners or morality of others. 3. An adverse critic; faultfinder. . . 6. To examine and act upon as a censor.” [Emphasis is mine.]  Legally, what the credit card companies are doing may be closer to restraint of trade, (though since I’m not a lawyer I don’t know if that’s actually true) but by this definition, it sure sounds like censorship to me.

I do agree with Kris that it’s important for any individual to understand a situation before expressing herself on the matter, and important for each person be willing to act on her own principles, whatever they may be. To that end, if you feel that Ebay (PayPal’s owner) and the credit card companies are overreaching, you can contact them and express your displeasure. (But please, be professional and polite!)

If they don’t change their position, will you stop using PayPal? Cancel your credit cards?

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Filed under Life, Publishing, writing

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