Friday, March 9, 2012

PayPal, Immortals, Teenagers, and the Election


No Sex.
What do PayPal, immortals, teenagers, and the election have in common? Followed the PayPal censorship controversy much? PayPal is a company that acts as a go-between to protect your identity online. You give this supposedly highly secure financial company your credit card and bank information, and they provide you with a means to purchase safely online. The merchant never has access to your credit card info. This means an entrepreneur who has an idea or product to sell can install some code on his or her website, hook up to PayPal, and sell internationally within minutes. You can take credit cards without having to invest in ultra-secure servers. PayPal takes the risk for you.

They, however, have decided that certain material is now too "high-risk." The internet commerce giant has decreed it will no longer permit its services to be used to purchase certain types of erotic material. Among the list are books containing BDSM, incest, "pseudo-incest," "barely legal," bestiality, and rape.

The definitions of these has been given many times, but for clarity, and in case you're new to the conflict, "pseudo-incest" covers people who are not related by blood but by marriage (step brothers/sisters of a blended family, stepson/stepmother, etc.), and "barely legal" is someone of legal age to have sex, meaning eighteen and nineteen year-olds. None of this material is new to the world. Oedipus wrote about incest thousands of years ago. The Marquis de Sade wrote about BDSM (bondage, discipline, and sado-masochism -- the term actually comes from his name) but PayPal has decreed it will no longer pay for this material. It claims it's being pressured by credit card companies. The credit card companies have, so far, been mute on the subject.

The "barely legal" material includes May-December love stories. PayPal doesn't want to pay for these because... well, I have no idea why. Maybe they think people aged eighteen and nineteen aren't capable of making solid decisions. Odd, that they are old enough to vote and go to war, but we can't write about them falling in love unless it's with someone their own age. At what point is the December lover supposedly too old for the May lover? Ten years? Twenty? Fifty? I'm not sure there's a scale, but imagine how out-of-kilter it might be if the December lover were immortal.

Bestiality - sexual activity between a person and an animal - includes stories (according to PayPal) with were-characters. Shape shifters, werewolves, werebears, were-anything. No petting of the lover's head while in shifted form; no sex while in animal form, no playful biting or nibbling. Nothing that might cause arousal while referring to the beast within. Pretty much the entire reason to write erotic were-type books and characters is taboo.

The internet giant has not only said it won't permit you to buy books with these topics, it will also confiscate funds of the booksellers and publishers who provide them. This means even if you don't write these books, but your publisher provides them, or you sell your books through a bookseller who does, PayPal can confiscate their funds, depriving you of your livelihood. Your recourse? Moving to another publisher or bookseller is about your only choice, because fighting with PayPal over lost revenue could take months, or even years. They are not covered by the FDIC and are not required even to respond to your complaint. Their terms of service say they will reply within 180 days (six months), and at that point, their decision is final. You do not get a phone number to call. You get an email. There is little you can do. If you can't survive for six months to a year without income, and you depend on getting paid by companies that provide this material, you are out of luck if PayPal follows through on its threat.

Which brings me to the crux of this article. I write about the Sempervians, immortals who manipulate current events to steer humanity towards various outcomes they desire. For example, a Sempervian might cause a fire in a seed warehouse, or cripple a shipping company with bad gas, making it impossible to ship seed on time. A failed corn crop pushes a farmer into buying his next year's seed on credit instead of with profits. A few years of "bad luck" and failed crops, and he defaults on the loan, losing his farm. A big farming company owned by the Sempervian buys his land on the cheap, makes it part of a conglomerate, and sells corn for less, making a huge profit, and over time, changing the face of agriculture. What does this have to do with censorship and PayPal?

Just Plain No.
Imagine you want to influence an election during a year when ultra-conservatives are on the ticket, up against a liberal. What kinds of things might swing the vote toward the liberals? What do Americans cherish and fear losing? Crops? Books? No. It's freedom. If a financial institution can decide for us what kinds of books we're allowed to write, read, and buy, then we are handing over our freedom in exchange for convenient purchases online. At what point does our freedom mean more than convenience and safety? What would make a person get out and vote for someone who is likely to stand up for your freedom? Someone who speaks well and looks good in a suit? Or a controversy that sparks outrage and determination to fight for what you have a legal write to read, write, and buy?

My Sempervians are not unlike the Illuminati. They move in the background, changing small things in the Tarthian Empire, influencing the populace to act in ways that benefit them and achieve their long-term goals. They're immortal. They have all the time in the world. In America, who is in the background, moving the small things that change our freedoms? Whose goals are achieved by PayPal suddenly taking a stand against specific details in erotic literature that it has (up to now) turned a blind eye to? Where is America headed, and to what end? PayPal, immortals, teenagers, and the election -- they may have more in common than meets the eye.

What do you think will happen next in this controversy? Who is the enemy, and who is on your side?

8 comments:

  1. Just so you know-- 411 does have Paypal's toll free number. *grins* Or at least the company I work for does. We fought long and hard to get it for both customer service and merchant services. 1-888-221-1161 Just so you have it. But I agree with you completely. It's a fight that needs to be fought and more importantly, now that we have the Consumer Protection Board and we need to make use of it to really get our point across that it's not fair, it's not right and they need to stop them.

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    1. Oh, thank you. I did not know about this. I'm so tempted to go tweet it! They'd probably disconnect it if it got out.

      You're right, Cyn. We need to stop them from doing this. It's just plain wrong.

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  2. I dropped PayPal over this. It's not just about censorship, it's about their stealing money. That's basically what they're doing when they take a companies money. That impacts everybody from the company to the writer, to the person who tried to purchase the book(s). I won't do business with a company like that.

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    1. Good for you! It's not easy to make a radical change, but sometimes it's necessary. Thank you for taking a stand. You're right. It effects everyone involved.

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  3. Just lending support here. This is wrong wrong wrong. And it's only people power that will stop it because I don't believe Paypal is breaking a law. Keep shouting from the rooftops, folks.

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    1. Thanks, Greta! I believe we have to keep talking about it until it ends. Squeaky wheels. ^_^

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  4. I am trying to get my publisher to pay me by bank transfer so I can drop PayPal. This is iniquitous

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    1. Hear hear. It's deplorable and we have to stand up to them. Thanks for speaking up, Jenny!

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