The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) is standing up to PayPal, who has recently been cutting off payments to digital booksellers that sell eBooks that include rape, incest and bestiality. Last month, digital publishing site Smashwords updated its policy, requiring certain restrictions to erotica content published on its site, because of pressure from PayPal.
Comparing PayPal’s policy to the other censorship movements such as the Catholic Church’s Index of Prohibited Books and the film industry’s Hays code, ABFFE and NCAC wrote in a letter to eBay (PayPal’s parent company): “The commitment to free speech is firmly embedded in our society, legally and culturally. Those who find sexual (or any other kind of) content disturbingor immoral don’t have to buy it, but it is widely accepted that they have no right to impose their views on others, or to expect society at large to adopt their perspective.”
The letter points out that PayPal’s new policy would censor some famous works of literature. It continues: “Incest, rape and bestiality have been depicted in world literature since Sophocles’ Oedipus and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. While PayPal may claim that its policy would only apply to low-value erotica,many great and even iconic works of literature were widely reviled as low-value filth when first published. Books like Ulysses and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were banned as ‘obscene’ in theUnited States because of their sexual content.”