Thursday, March 08, 2012


I've been wrestling all week with the software to sell ebooks from my new site at, and just when I finally got a file associated with each product (the file you actually get to download), Paypal changed their terms and conditions.

Smashwords are telling authors to remove fiction that contains themes of bestiality, rape, incest and under-age sex at the behest of Paypal who say it's to comply with the rules of the banks and credit card companies.

This is odd given the amount of internet porn paid for with credit cards.

I can't be sure, but this rather smells of the American religious right. If so, you can bet it won't stop at bestiality, rape, incest and under-age sex. LGBT sex will be next, and if they can, they'll extend it to all sex, including sex education.

Now, I'm absolutely not a fan of bestiality, rape or incest, but I'm not at all sure that even these things should be censored. I've heard the argument that read about, say, rape, will inflame you and make you more likely to rape, and I've heard the argument that it will get it out of your system. What I haven't seen is any scientific research on the subject.

(Please note, I'm not saying that scientific research is infallible, because scientists inevitably bring their own assumptions to their work, and they're almost as likely to overlook stuff as the rest of us. But science is self-correcting, and it's far more likely to be right than either you or me gazing at our navels. And WAAAAY more likely to be right than a politician who's paid to look at his navel from a certain direction.)

In any case, writing and reading are not the same as doing. Writing about murder is apparently hunkydory. So far. I wonder if Paypal will refuse to process payments for the Bible and the Greek myths? Both contain lots and lots of rape, and the Bible certainly contains lots and lots of under-age sex.

I'm trying to get clear whether it means "rape" or "rape-for-titillation", since both are mentioned. It's an important distinction. Banning all mention of rape silences the victims - you can't have a story about the traumatic effect of rape or incest, or even a scholarly book about the psychology of rapists. Less importantly, in the grand scheme of things, one of the short stories in "The Dodo Dragon and other stories" briefly mentions rape, emphatically not "for-titillation". I wasn't planning to sell on Smashwords, but I was planning to sell using Paypal. So now I have to postpone the book launch while I research this, and perhaps find another easy way for customers to pay me. Watch this space.

This might cost Paypal a fortune. Not from me (I wish!) but from lots and lots of indie authors. Together we must rack up quite a lot. Who wants our business.

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