PayPal imposed Smashwords censorship that went down earlier this month, where PayPal placed the muscle for credit card companies that don't want their product used to purchase erotic novels that deal with rape, incest, or bestiality, and told Smashwords it would have to pull all such titles from its catalog or risk PayPal not working with them.
People brought up the slippery slope argument: if it's "no rape-as-titillation" today, what will they censor next?!
Many publishers already have these items on their no-no list -- erotica publishers and others. While I'm not writing this post to praise self-publishing as a bastion of moral depravity, it does commendably stand as a place where people who are not writing in the main stream can publish without rules on their content.
I'm not going to run out and buy a novel I know has incest-as-titillation, but I like knowing that the option to exercise one's free speech to reach the masses is out there and available. Traditional publishing marginalizes many acts and groups; self publishing doesn't ... until now. Slippery slope.
Among the paranormal crowd, I heard the ever popular (and important!) argument: Are all inter-species relations "bestiality"? What about werewolves and faeries and sexy aliens?
Captain Kirk could seduce blue extraterrestrials in miniskirts, but can the hero of a Smashwords novel?
But rest easy, Smashwords has clarified that were-creatures can still get their freaky on.
And then there's the who really needs 'em? argument.
But Smashwords can't just tell PayPal to screw off. The two are incredibly intertwined.
PayPal processes credit card transactions for the online retailer (and as their online, their business is almost entirely done by credit card). Besides, PayPal is just the muscle, not the source.
Should Smashwords get a new company to process credit cards, the credit card companies would only turn that new processor into their hired muscle.