Don’t tell me what I can’t do

There are things in this world I just don’t like. I don’t like onions, but I’m not going to tell my husband he can’t put them on his pizza. I don’t like horror movies, but I’m not going to tell my friends they can’t watch them. I don’t like all sub-genres of erotica, but I’m not going to tell anyone they can’t express their artistic ideas.

But that’s exactly what PayPal is doing.

Three major booksellers: Smashwords, All Romance eBooks, and Bookstrand, are revising their erotica guidelines to exclude rape, bestiality, necrophilia, and incest because PayPal is forcing them to. These are deplorable act and while this may sound like a good thing, but the definitions PayPal is using are vague enough to exclude things like BDSM, some paranormal and erotic horror genres, and ‘daddy’ stories. My books haven’t been banned yet, but they have elements of BDSM that so far escape the new guidelines.

I don’t write in those genres, but I know authors who do, and while I may not like the ideas they choose to express, I will defend their right to do so. If this censorship trend continues, it may affect me. It may affect you.

Who made PayPal God? What gives a commercial entity the right to police artistic expression? Why are the booksellers giving in?

Money. That’s all there is to it. PayPal is the vendor of choice for many online retailers. Without their services, businesses would lose customers. I don’t like losing customers/readers. But I hate being told what I can’t buy, can’t think, or can’t write by a faceless corporate giant.

It’s censorship—pure and simple—banning books. And I don’t like it. I will fight it.

Additional note: I am not–in any way–defending rape, incest, bestiality, or necrophilia. This post is not a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve been aware of PayPal’s actions all week, but since it didn’t affect me directly, I didn’t address it. But when I saw my friends’ books being banned, I decided to make my feelings known. I cannot stand by and watch while my friends’ livelihoods are threatened.

Have your books or books you want to read been banned?

For more on this controversy, see:

Two Legs Bad: an open letter to Mark Coker

Femmedia – weekly blog roundup – lots of links here

PayPal: The Morality Dictator

Smashwords Bans Erotica – Sort of

PayPal becomes Big Brother of Erotica

And here’s a petition you can sign:

Stop Censorship

About ameliajamesauthor

Amelia James started reading steamy romance novels in junior high, but her mom took them away from her, so she started daydreaming instead. After she got married, she wrote some of her naughtier daydreams down and sent them to Playgirl magazine. Two of them got published. She kept daydreaming and writing stories until her dirty stories turned into trashy books. She lives in Colorado, but she’ll always be a loyal Wisconsin Cheesehead. When she’s not lusting after her next bad boy hero, she looks for inspiration in sci-fi and action movies, football players, bloodsucking lawyers, muscle cars, and kick-butt chicks.
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43 Responses to Don’t tell me what I can’t do

  1. Sessha Batto says:

    My books are banned. I remain staunchly unashamed about what I write, however. I am lucky to have the most wonderful publisher in the world, who is sticking her neck out for me, her sole erotic author. Too many people are saying, “This doesn’t affect me, so I won’t worry – just cast aspersions on the titles that are banned.” Luckily for them when their time comes, I’ll STILL be defending their right to write whatever fiction they wish! Thanks for having the guts to take a stand against censorship. In the end, none of us can afford it!

  2. I am one of those authors affected. I wrote Step-sibling/Step-father stories, and one(1) that was with a real blood uncle, I wrote two stories about rape, but not violent rape, and they ended up being in love at the story’s end. I never once thought I was hurting anyone, and these stories were my best sellers. I also don’t like someone or entities dictating my lines. Thank you for this blog, and your defense of me, and authors like me. I do actually have certain lines that I stop at, and wouldn’t cross it, but, as you said, it’s a matter of freedom of expression Thanks again for your support. :)

  3. Sessha, good point, it does effect everyone, even though they don’t think it does.

  4. loriwhitwam says:

    This makes me want to find online booksellers where the banned titles ARE available, and buy them… whether or not I might have bought them ordinarily. True, there are some things I choose not to read. But it sounds as if a lot of what I do read (and occasionally write) falls in the “banned books” category. I worked in public libraries for many years, and if you want to get a bunch of librarians riled up, just start talking about banning books.

  5. Anjasa says:

    It really disturbs me that torture porn like Saw and Hostel were so popular for so long, that we can watch people be brutally and disgustingly tortured (and some of them even being passed off as high art like Antichrist!), yet reading about two consenting adults is somehow deemed unacceptable.

  6. Kendall Grey says:

    This isn’t the first I’ve heard of this type of censorship. I’m with you, Amelia. I don’t necessarily *like* the content of many of the books in question, but I’ll defend the author’s right to publish them. PayPal isn’t just being ridiculous, they’re violating the First Amendment. I call bullshit.

  7. What really angers me, is that some of these goody too shoes that are judging and making these decisions, oh, if you could be a fly on their walls in their homes, in their bathrooms, with doors shut, and see what they’re reading.I actually had one reader that was a ‘preacher’, but of course on Sunday mornings, he’ll be preaching against it. It’s all about ‘looking good’ in public.

  8. M.K. Elliott says:

    Censorship is censorship. I feel really sorry for the authors out there who have had their titles pulled. Paypal shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what people read or write. Where will it stop?

  9. Pingback: Smashwords Bans Erotica – Sort Of | Pavarti

  10. There is a possibility to sign a petition at least, I have done that. Don’t have the details but you can look it up!!

  11. Karsun says:

    So far mine are okay but I believe it’s because mine are free on Smashwords. This totally sucks though, IMO.

  12. we are facing the same potential issues with one of my short stories, a vampire’s game. while my main character never rapes any of the women he is with, he does kill one directly on the heels of seducing her. given the elements of bondage present, it falls into a very gray area.
    it makes me nervous for penning any future tales of his exploits. flynn is, for all intents and purposes, a cold, calculating killer at times and now i have to be careful in any future erotica pieces not to toe that line. dulls my fangs a bit, i guess you could say. ;)

  13. No cesnsorship of erotica! I commend all of you bloggers for standing up against it.

  14. Unfortunately, it’s similar to the argument about abortion. If someone else doesn’t believe in it, they feel they have the right to force their beliefs or standards on the masses. I don’t believe in abortion, but I would defend my right to make that decision. Censorship of books is, to me, a similar issue. How can anyone say what I can or cannot read or write? We need to stop taking the freedom of others away before it becomes the freedom of us all at risk.

  15. Seeing as eBay is a publicly traded company, I don’t see how they can do something like this through their subsidiary without fear of a backlash. I wonder if anyone has started a petition threatening to no longer use their services if they continue to stomp on 1st Amendment rights?

  16. Pingback: Erotica Book Banning Roundup – Part 2, and Smashwords Bows Under Pressure | S. V. Rowle

  17. ella grey says:

    It sucks, I might not write it and some of it I wouldn’t read but nobody should tell you want you can write.

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