Friday, March 9, 2012

If you could censor the things you don't like, would you?

As most of you have heard by now, credit card companies think they have the right to dictate to Paypal what types of accounts they can handle. Paypal in turn thinks they have the right to tell publishers and companies like Amazon and Smashwords (among others) what types of books they can sell based on "objectionable" content. I'm still talking about it because it needs to be talked about. If we remain silent we have no room to complain.

The major areas they are cracking down on are rape, incest, and bestiality. Besides not having the right to do this, they are also only targeting erotic works. That is wrong on many levels, but I'll try to stick to the point. The definitions set by these companies are so broad, there are thousands of books that will fall into one of those categories.

Let me give you a few examples. If someone in a novel starts dating their step-brother by marriage, BOOM it's incest. Even though the characters are not related by blood, it doesn't matter.

The most upsetting to me is the subject of bestiality. The definition commonly meant to have sex with natural animals. Well, no one in my books humps cows or anything, so we're good, right? Wrong. This definition as set by the credit card companies (and in turn Paypal) has been expanded to include were-creatures of various kinds. According to them, werewolves (or any other kind of shifter) must be in their human forms when they have sex. In my books, they always are. I find the thought of having sex with a full-blown (no pun intended) werewolf is sick. But what if they think that their eyes turning color during sex is transformation? What then? That happens in HUNDREDS of paranormal books.

As for rape, the definition has also been expanded. Typically if anyone is forced to perform any type of sexual act against their will, that is rape. Someone in charge has gotten it into their head that BDSM books are all about rape. That's just not true. Many BDSM titles depict acts between consenting adults.

Don't even get me started on the fact that all of this is fiction and no one has the right to say what you can and cannot write about. It's not as if these acts are actually being committed.

While I'm at it, I'd like to clarify something. Many people have come to the incorrect assumption that I am fighting for the right to write about rape. Um, no. Rape is one of the most offensive things I can think of finding in a book. I'm not even going to get into the fact of how horrifying the thought of the act truly is. If I read a book that has rape in it or watch it in a movie, I'm offended. Big time.

Years ago I actually started a petition to have movies rated for rape. Why? Because I don't want to look at it. I go to the movies to be entertained and watching someone tortured sexually is not entertaining to me. However, people have the right to make a movie about it if they want to. As long as no one is actually hurt. All I wanted was to know up front before I made the mistake of going into the theatre.

The worst book I ever read was a BDSM title. I'm not against the genre by any means, but this was awful. It was written by a very well-known author (whom I won't name) and came highly recommended. I was expecting something sexy. What I got was 30 pages (because that's all I could stomach) of the rape and torture of an innocent young woman. No thank you. It's the only book I've ever returned in my life. I felt like my mind needed to be washed with holy water.

However, I didn't try to have it pulled from the shelves. I didn't start a petition of any kind. I simply never bought anything else by that author. Lots of people liked it. I'm not their judge. I also didn't feel the need to write a scathing review. I was ashamed for anyone to know I'd read it.

Would you have things removed that you didn't like if you had the power? If you suddenly found yourself in the position of the credit card companies would you lobby against "filth?" Or perhaps there is something else you'd have removed if you could? I wonder what other people think about this.

Another thing that I've seen crop up more and more is the mistaken impression that all small presses or independent authors publish "naughty" books. Every time I read something like that I roll my eyes and think, "Grow up." Now all romance is "naughty." And who uses that word besides Santa anyway? I know of very few people who write nothing but a "book full of sex."

In fact publishers of erotic fiction won't even consider a manuscript if it doesn't have a sound plot. You can't just dash off a wad of filth and hand it in and get a contract. It doesn't work that way.

My point is (I swear I had a point) people at credit card companies have no right sticking their nose into this. And whether or not I like a subject is irrelevant. I am defending people's right to read and publish whatever the hell they feel like.

You may think this doesn't affect you. Maybe you write in a different genre or maybe you don't write at all. You are wrong. This affects everyone. If they are allowed to get away with this, they may go after something close to you next. What if they decide that all horror involving zombies must be pulled from the shelf because the degeneration of human flesh offends them? Sure, that's stupid as hell ... so are their complaints about erotica. Stupidity hasn't slowed them down yet.

In case you want to sign a petition against censorship.

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