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Originally posted by naamah_darling at Please spread the word about Paypal censoring ebook retailers!
I'm going to ask y'all for a favor.

Please, please, please spread the word about this:

Paypal Strongarms Indie Ebook Publishers Over Erotic Content

Because, y'all? I have seen zero people, zero, on my f-list talk about it. Two people on Facebook. Granted, I've been dealing with this shit while very upset and my memory is not the greatest on the best of days, so I might have missed something, but still, this is unacceptable. Y'all care. I know you do. So please spread the word. If you can't do anything else, cut and paste and link back here.

I have been so tired, and so demoralized, and so, so hoping that someone else would have the spoons to speak up about this, to start the push back. Hoping that big-name authors would take notice, would care, would make the articulate, well-researched, exhaustively linked posts that help get people centered around an issue . . . the kind of posts that I am too busy just trying to survive to make in a timely fashion. And it's not happening. No letter-writing campaigns, no petitions, no call to arms.

Folks, that call to arms needs to happen. This is going to really hurt people like me, like my husband, who make our money writing erotica that brushes up against the bars. And by hurt, I mean this is how we pay for our heat, this is how we pay for our food, this is how we pay for my medication, this is how we scrape by. I don't mean "This is how we pay for our research vacations to Brazil." I am talking the basics of survival, here. I am not fucking around.

And if you don't give a shit about one crazy pornographer in the middle of nowhere, well, okay, fine. Be selfish. No, really. This will affect you. It has the potential to affect everyone. Every reader, every writer, if their interests verge even a little bit into grey territory.

And folks? A tremendous amount of fiction goes there. Stories and novels and anthologies by popular and award-winning authors like Neil Gaiman and Terri Windling and Laurell K. Hamilton and Sarah Monette and Cat Valente and on and on A through fucking Z would be right the fuck out. Also, the Bible. Not that I personally give a flying fuck, but it's ironically on the list of shit that you couldn't buy through PayPal, if they had to adhere to their own rules.

Mark Coker's first email from Smashwords explained:

Today we are modifying our Terms of Service to clarify our policies regarding erotic fiction that contains bestiality, rape and incest. . . .

I've had multiple conversations with PayPal over the last several days to better understand their requirements. Their team has been helpful, forthcoming and supportive of the Smashwords mission. I appreciate their willingness to engage in dialogue. Although they have tried their best to delineate their policies, gray areas remain.

Their hot buttons are bestiality, rape-for-titillation, incest and underage erotica.


Which all sounds pretty indefensible, but:

A) It's all ill-defined.

  • This applies to all incest, including step-relations, and is so ill-defined that it might apply to distant cousins. Goodbye, realistic depictions of inbreeding in noble families throughout history.

  • This applies to all "rape for titillation," which is so ill-defined that it might apply to romance-novel bodice-ripping, and it applies to all "non-consensual BDSM" which, while that should certainly be illegal in real life, is also ill-defined, and might be stretched to cover all sorts of situations. I'm personally into BDSM in real life and I can tell you that most people are remarkably closed-minded about BDSM and have demonstrated a particularly atrocious track record at recognizing that there even is a distinction between consensual and nonconsensual BDSM. People who don't like it don't like it in any form, and they will try to shove it all into the box marked "rape."

  • This applies to all "bestiality," which specifically excludes fully-shifted shapeshifters and is furthermore so ill-defined that it might apply to gorgons, centaurs, sphinxes, and other mythical beasts that possess animal or partially animal bodies and human-level consciousness.

    B) We have to defend the indefensible, even if we do not like it. I don't care if it is the absolute worst and most horrible thing you have ever seen in your life, it is not PayPal's job to tell us what we can and cannot do with our money. If it is not against the law to buy or create it in the United States, i.e., if it is protected under freedom of speech, nobody has the right to tell us that we cannot create it or sell it or buy it. Not PayPal, not the banks, not Santa Claus, nobody.*


  • This started with Smashwords. I want to be clear, here, that Smashwords is not the villain, and Mark Coker has been working tirelessly to achieve some sort of détente whereby we can all carry on and profit without too much disruption. He despises the idea of censorship, but severing relations with PayPal would take time, and some sort of solution must be found in the meantime so that authors, who need to get paid by Smashwords, can keep selling. He is doing exactly the right thing, and I fully support his approach.

    It started with Smashwords, but it won't end with Smashwords.

    True, the big-name authors that you are likely to care about far more than you care about me and the rest of my porn-spewing ilk mostly don't publish through Smashwords, though some make their backlist available there. No, you probably aren't paying through PayPal when you buy their books. But this isn't just about who-gives-a-shit indie authors writing their dirty stepdaddy porn.

    It is about PayPal. PayPal says this is the banks' fault. That it's the banks putting pressure on them, so they're pressuring Smashwords and other indie outfits. And if that's true, we have a major fucking problem, because banks should not and cannot be allowed to do that. If that's true, that connection needs to be dragged into the light so that everyone can see it for what it is.

    Even if it's not true and it's just some asshole at PayPal with a burr up his ass, we have a major fucking problem. PayPal is huge, and the revenue streams for thousands of independent artists and authors get funneled through it. If they start telling us what we can and cannot put out there to sell, what we can and cannot buy, well . . . if you can't see there's a huge problem there, I honestly don't know if I can help you, and you might want to just go lie down for a while and hope the denseness passes.

    So I am asking you: please spread the word, please get people talking about this, please keep your readers, even if there are only two, abreast of this issue. And please, if you're an author with one of the big publishing houses, please, please post about this. In fact, if you know such an author, please ask them to post about it.

    I am not advocating spamming authors. I don't want to make people mad. But I want this exposed. I want people talking about this. I want acknowledgement from big-name authors that this shit matters, and I want to know that they are behind us, the way we have been behind them as fans and fellow authors.

    I am just asking that if you have a means of politely contacting them and asking them to weigh in on the issue, you do so. Twitter is good, comments are good, emails are good. Whatever, even if it's just a retweet. Please.

    This is not just about incestuous underage dog-rape porn, okay? Who the hell would rally to protect that? Nobody. Which is the problem, here. People glance at the issue and they see indefensible garbage, and they move on.

    That is a smokescreen! This is not about that crap. This is about people with no familiarity with genre fiction, with erotica, with the outer boundaries of sexual fantasy, being allowed to dictate how we express ourselves. This is about those people deciding where the line gets drawn between okay and not okay. This is not a new thing, though this crackdown is new, a new push against "obscene" content that previously nobody gave a shit about. They've already proven that they decide where the line is and that they can move it anytime they like; that they are doing this represents a shifting of that line. This is about being told what we can and cannot publish, and can and cannot buy. It affects everyone. And that should scare the shit out of you.

    And while we're at it, let's discuss that indefensible incestuous underage dog-rape porn. It's sick, and I don't write it, and I don't want to read it, and if a given indie self-pub outlet wants to say "we will not allow people to publish that through us" I suppose I am very grudgingly okay with that. But if a bank – and that is really how PayPal works, as a bank for e-commerce – wants to tell me that I cannot buy that stuff, THAT IS NOT OKAY. I will spend my money any goddamned fucking way I see fit. They have crossed the line. We need to unfuck this situation.

    And, final note, we need to discuss how to support independent authors and artists through this, because boycotting PayPal is going to hurt us. Frankly, I have no idea how to go about this, I am barely able to keep my own head above water, let alone think long and hard about how to fix the sinking ship, but I sure as shit hope that we can. I'm willing to suffer for the cause, yes, but I am not willing to go without my drugs for however long this would take to settle out. So we need to be talking about how to take care of one another, how to support each other, while still effecting change.

    I entered into the devil's bargain with PayPal because I had no other choice. No, you in the back smugly stroking your sense of superiority through your fashionably unfashionable pants, I did not have another choice. I needed, and still need, to make money, and that means 1) getting my stuff in front of people and 2) making it easy for those people to pay me for it. That is what sites like Etsy and Smashwords do. They make it easy for me to get my stuff out there and get it sold and get myself paid. As I have said repeatedly over the past few days, I cannot afford to abstain on principle. They are a luxury I am too poor and too screwed and too uninsured and too mentally ill to afford. I don't make much off my bargain with this company, but I need every fucking penny of it. So much so that I am terrified that if I post this, PayPal will suspend my account as punishment. Because I can't afford for that to happen. I need the security they allow me to provide for myself.

    What I do not need? This five-day headache with PayPal's name on it. The indifference of people – big-name, small-name, no-name – whose voices, if raised, could maybe make a difference. The assumption that indie publishing isn't important and that stuff put out through independent channels isn't any good and that I must, therefore, be trying to defend something worthless and indefensible. The assumption that this is only about indie publishing, and the assumption that this is only about porn – really sick porn at that.

    This is about freedom, and for some of us, it is about survival.

    Paypal email addresses and phone numbers, should you wish to talk about this with someone there. This is old info -- if anyone has anything better, I will post that instead -- but it's better than the on-site contact stuff, which is routed through overseas response centers. Please speak out, BE POLITE, be articulate, be reasonable, and be firm.

    FYI, I will be moderating comments on this post with a heavy hand. I doubt it will be necessary, but I want productive conversation, not bickering. If you don't agree that this is a problem, I ask politely that you move on. We've nothing to say to one another.

    Also, yes, I swear a lot. If you feel inclined to say that this is hurting my case, I invite you to think very carefully about the core of this issue, and what relevance it may have to what you are about to say.



    * I am not arguing with anyone about whether or not PayPal has the right, as a private company, to make up bullshit rules. They technically do, but they have a virtual monopoly on payments made through the internet, they are deeply connected to the big banks, and allowing them to do this sets a hideously dangerous precedent. If the government cannot censor or suppress "obscene" content without those uppity free-speechers getting all riled up, well, private companies can do it. Right? Yeah. I'm not on board with that.

    X-posted from Dreamwidth. Comment count: comment count unavailable
    Attend, please. Imperfections of the magnitude that are seen on your scales are certainly unique and one of a kind. They are not realistic unless your fish has a bacterial infection.

    They also are not particularly desirable if one is paying $2250 for a tail.

    Please, stop trying to spin sloppiness and poor craftsmanship as the finest 'unique' scales in the field.
    Dear Everybody,

    Guess what? I don't really care that Whitney Houston died. It was weird in a 'huh' kind of way, because she's been around and part of the music scene since I was a kid. It gets the same kind of 'huh' from me that anyone does that was a household name who dies. I think the whole drug thing was a shame. Literally, I mean, throwing away a voice like that for drugs is shameful. But it's her life and she could do what she wanted with it.

    Now. I am sick to death of all the displeasure that you're showing that ANYONE in the media is paying attention to her death. All of the macros with dead soldiers or starving African children going 'Whitney who?'-- are you kidding me? GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELVES.

    Just because someone had addiction problems is no reason that they can't be mourned. Guess what? Soldiers have addiction problems. People from all walks of life have addiction problems. And believing that just because someone was in entertainment means that they never did anything to help society or individuals? Is BULLSHIT. Yes. Houston never picked up a gun to serve her country. However, she did:

    - break down race barriers in a restrictive industry
    - operate charities supporting children with AIDS, cancer, and who are homeless
    - support the United Negro College Fund, helping to send people of color to college who might otherwise not have been able to go
    - record and release her Superbowl rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner", donating ALL of her share of the profits to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund
    - Staged a concert specifically for soldiers and their families
    - refused to do any business with any agencies supporting apartheid
    - supported charities that raised apartheid awareness
    - become the first major singer to perform in South Africa after apartheid, donating proceeds from her concerts to various South African charities
    - re-release "The Star Spangled Banner" after 9/11, with all profits going to the New York Firefighters 9/11 Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police

    Those are just the public things. You don't know how she affected individual lives. Guess what? When I was super depressed and going through a really hard time in my life, it was not a solider who saved me. It was a musician who got me through. Now, that wasn't Houston, but who's to say that her music never touched people, never helped them through hard times? I'm sure those people are mourning her right now. And newsflash: THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO.

    (Just like you have every right to mourn Steve Jobs, who was a tyrant and a slave worker, literally, but hey, he didn't do drugs, so he's all right. Whatever. I wish you could see the dismissive sneer on my face right now.)

    And to the people in my parents' generation who are sounding off on this on Facebook:

    SHUT THE FUCK UP. SERIOUSLY? I KNOW WHAT YOU PEOPLE DID DURING THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES. I'VE SEEN THE PICTURES. Pot and the kettle, much?

    To sum up: Death is painful, whether big or small. Everyone has the right to mourn whoever they want, however they want. You don't have the right to judge or direct them.

    .

    Tags:

    December 20th, 2011

    Heather, 29
    Binghamton, NY
    December 20th, 2011

    I lost my camera cord for a while, so this is a little on the late side of things (still within the 3 month window- barely!)

    On this day I go on a class field trip to see a textile exhibition at Cornell University, and then go home and clean my house.

    67 photos totalCollapse )

    Tags:

    Writer's Block: The Walking Dead

    In case of an impending zombie apocalypse, what would be your weapon of choice, and why?


    A machete. You don't have to reload a machete.

    (I keep one under my bed, just in case.)

    Dec. 22nd, 2011

    You ever have one of those days when you pray to god that your parents don't get on facebook and read the comments your friends post?

    This is one of those days.

    Oh my god.

    Tags:

    I am going to throw up and die. For so many reasons.

    Have to get this paper done by noon.

    Oh my shit.
    Time to panic, flail, and pray to whatever gods there be for mercy.

    (Ah, I love my first world problems.)

    ETA: PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC

    CONTINGENCY PLAN

    CONTINGENCY PLAN ACTIVATED

    GO

    Nov. 23rd, 2011

    So today has been possibly the best birthday ever. I got a surprise boyfriend (who, incidentally scared the everloving fuck out of me, because I wasn't expecting him, and I thought he was an intruder and screamed and almost had a heart attack) who got me a turkey baster, a cake stand, and an NES. His family got me makeup brushes and a necklace and money (!!!) And people remembered my birthday on facebook, even though I apparently took my birthday off my profile at some point (???) and other people called me. My mom called me like three times, because she kept getting interrupted and confused.

    And we played house and played with the cats and he surprised me with a cake that says "Something Witty" on it.

    And I am going to put on all my jewelry and take a bubble bath and drink (cheap) champagne while I do it, because I'm a grownup now and can do anything I want.

    (After I finish frantically cleaning and baking for tomorrow's food orgy. Woo!)

    Tags:

    Weird

    Working on this Bayeux paper has taken me in directions I never thought I'd go, academically. I know all about the Nazis now. I've studied the Ahnenerbe. I've got the real scoop on what happened to happened to Bunjes after the war. I've cried through a lot of war movies... I've laughed through a lot of war movies... all in the name of research. (It are fact that Hitler was denied admission to Hogwarts.)

    What's also weird: knowing enough of my genealogy to know that a main branch of my ancestors crossed the Channel with William. It's like, dude. This thing is the story of my people! Except I don't like my people, I find them to be the aggressors in the whole situation. I like Harold, who seems like my kind of broken.

    So, my people are the aggressors and very much beloved by the Nazis.

    That's pretty weird.

    .

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