thiskindalove: (Default)
Originally posted by [personal profile] 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

    Crossposted from sunshineafterrain @ dreamwidth.

    thiskindalove: ({doctor feelgood} feel good!)
    Well, it's now 01:10am on Saturday. My 24 hours ended an hour and ten minutes ago.

    Of course the first thing I did was I went and made myself an omelette. Can't go wrong with an omelette.

    But that's it. Day survived, money raised, Tracy happy with it.

    James, from work, suggested that we, the whole newspaper, do it as a group next year.

    We'll see, I said, we'll see.

    (My stomach is now freaking out because of food content. It's gurgling terribly.

    thiskindalove: ({personal} relative insignficance)
    So, it's 10pm here. I've not had anything to eat for, actually, 25 hours or so - I last had my dinner at about 8pm last night, but didn't finish eating it until 9pm-ish, so. 25 or 26 hours, I suppose.

    The hours before midnight don't count. I was actually awake until 2am last night, reading The Tale Of The Body Thief (more David than a David fan can handle!)

    (Actually, that's a lie. There's never enough David. He's so proper and fun. And very gentlemanly.

    And he touches little boys.)

    and so I'm counting from midnight last night until midnight tonight as my 24 hours. I think they almost wanted you to do 12noon-12noon, but I prefer it this way. It's not like I'm asleep before midnight, anyway, and it was a work day today, so it also wasn't as though I slept through until 2pm or anything.

    Having said that, however, I did go lay down in bed to read for a while and ended up asleep from 5-10pm, when I didn't even feel as though I was tired. I wonder if you'd call that cheating. But I also wonder, y'know, in the grand scheme of things, if the people the money who will receive the benefits of the money I raised do the same thing - I wonder if they sleep to get away from the hunger. I don't know.

    But I took my sponsorship card into work today, and the guys (and girls!) were so fucking generous it kind of made my heart swell.

    • Mum       €10
    • Mary       €5
    • Damien       €5
    • Leszek       €5
    • Linda-from-work       €5
    • Shirley       €5
    • Niamh       €5
    • Paul       €10
    • James       €10
    • Larry       €10
    • Elizabeth       €5
    • Nuala       €10
    Which makes a total of €85. I've collected €65 of it so far, because those who had the money were nice enough just to give me the money right away. I've to collect the money from Mum, Mary and Elizabeth, and so that'll be not bad at all.

    But, you guys. It's a small thing, really, this €85. I earn four times that in a good week. (Not recently, but you get the idea. When business is better and there's not a recession, I earn four times that, easily, in a good week.) But it's a small thing that might change somebody's life for the better.

    And I'm happy enough with that as a contribution. Because until I went into work, I only had Mum's €10. ^_^;;; I didn't get around to going through the estate because I do not know people around here, except for Jane's parents, who live across the road from the exit of our cul-de-sac.

    So €85?

    Hell yes am I happy with that.

    You read the first post I made on the subject of the fast? You'll know that €85 can change somebody's life.

    I can't tell, however, if anybody made a donation through my page, although I asked Dad to forward it on to members of the family. But if he did and anybody made donations, then that's more money.

    And today, to be perfectly honest, has not been so difficult.

    I can honestly say that I've felt "hungrier" on days when I've not been Fasting. My stomach doesn't particularly hurt right now, but there's something there that could be called hunger, right around the edges of my stomach, you know?

    I've been drinking plenty of fluids, anyway, and just now I've had a cup of coffee - although it suggests against it, because the idea is to stay hydrated, but it's almost the end of the day.

    I feel kind of good about this, you guys.

    Small steps and all. I'm not about to run out and join a religious order or anything, but it feels kind of nice, helping to change the world for the better.
    thiskindalove: ({davidusher} out in the real world)
    *begin message*

    So, on March 6-7, 2009, I am going to be taking part in Trócaire's 24-hour fast. I've already convinced Mum to sponsor me €10! Score.

    I'll ask in work on Friday, if anyone wants to sponsor me. I'm thinking about going around the estate to ask, too.

    And of course I'm going to ask y'all, too.

    You can make a donation via debit/credit card (er, I'm sure, outside of Ireland, they'd probably only accept credit card, but. Yeah.) at my "personalised" Trócaire Sponsorship Page.

    Ahahaha. :D

    Anyway! I got my sponsorship kit today, and here's a list of what sponsorship money could do:

      • €20 would provide an olive tree for a family in Palestine, helping them to earn an income, and replacing ancient olive trees destroyed during conflict.

      • €35 would provide seeds and trees for a family left impoverished by the conflict in Uganda. This would help them to grow food and provide wood for construction and fires.

      • €60 would fund business training for a woman widowed by the conflict in Uganda, helping her to set up a small business and support her family.

      • €100 would buy enough rice to feed a family in India for a whole year. This would help them to cope with food shortages and rising food prices.

      • €200 would provide eight people with 30 hours of literacy training each. There are 876 million illiterate adults in the world, and this is one of the main factors that keep people poor.

    So! More than likely, a week on Friday, there will be lots of Twitters and LJ posts of, "OMFG AM STARVING." and y'all have that to look forward to.

    I remember doing a fast when I was... 13? 14? I was in high school anyway, and because I was under 16, I was only allowed to do 12 hours.

    24 hours is going to be a lot more difficult.

    And yes, I'm down on my knees here, looking for your help.

    Anything you can afford. Y'all know how much I love my food. And I'm willingly giving it up for a day to help the poor and the less fortunate and those starving African children my parents were always telling me about when I left some mashed totties on my plate when I was younger.

    ... Sarcasm aside, anything you can afford would be greatly appreciated, I'm sure, by the people who would be helped by it, and by me, because as I mentioned before, I am, by my own choice, giving up food for 24 hours to try and help other people.

    *end of message*
    thiskindalove: ({random} that's what SHE said)



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    Tracy: [adj.] immoderate; wild

    March 2012

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