Wednesday, February 29, 2012

P.S. PayPal, Shall I Spit, or Swallow?

Dear PayPal,

It’s me again, Eden. Honey, we need to talk. Though we’ve had this nine-year relationship, you don’t know me at all.  I was born in 1960. I came of age in the heady atmosphere of the Sexual Revolution. If you’re old enough to be in this relationship with me, I’ll assume you’ve heard of it. The outcome there was I was decided to be equal, in my sexuality as well as in business. I live in South Carolina, arguably the most conservative state in the U.S. I graduated from all-female college in the same state. and I married a preacher’s kid of the Southern Baptist variety. 

You’d probably have liked his parents.

Speaking of parents, I happen to be one. I’ve often used my PayPal card to buy things for my kids--things like music downloads. Many a time I’ve seen the Parental Advisory warning labels, like your new guy, Charmillionaire has on his music, and I exercised my best judgment about whether or not I wanted my children exposed to it. You know Charmillionaire, right? You and he just went public about your relationship on your blog.

I know I'm a natural blonde, but dumb this down for me. I’d like to know why you feel I’m competent to monitor the music I use my funds on your card to download for my children or myself, but I need your assistance to determine what I want to read. Or write and sell on Smashwords or Bookstrand, if it’s legal,  doesn't violate any definition of obscenity other than yours, and someone else wants to read it. I want to know why you don't monitor one type of explicit artistic expression yet come after another with your corporate censorship. I'm asking why there's been selective enforcement of your newly-expanded definition of obscenity. And yes, I'm still asking what qualifies you to decide what is and is not obscene. 

If you’re so concerned about explicit stories I might use my funds in your possession to download and read, but feel a warning label is sufficient to save me from accidentally hearing explicit lyrics, then you’ll of course overlook me when I tell you I live in the country, and I know fresh cow manure when I smell it. It’s the way you’ve labeled my peers as pornographers that astounds me. It’s the way you imply I’m competent to determine what music I want to buy, but want to put your big, strong hand over mine when I browse for a book that makes me grit my teeth. I'm not some twelve-year-old for you to withhold my allowance if I say the word 'orgasm' out loud. We're already established I was a competent adult when you handed me your card and opened my account.

Why don't you ask us as to add a content warning label rather than force retailers to remove titles? I'm sure we could all compromise on bright red, black and white virtual sticker similar to the one Charmillionaire has on his anti-establishment and sometimes obscene lyrics. If you're buried in charge-backs because of buyer's remorse when a spouse finds this material, or for any other reasons, well, I'd say a digital download which opens and is formatted well enough to be read should be non-refundable anyway, in the manner of electronic games and digital recordings.

I’ve heard the arguments about how you as a company have the right to decide your own terms of service. I’ve heard all those who say if we as authors don’t like your policies, we’re free to find a new provider.

Ah, but you and I know that’s easier said than done. Our little break-up is coming, but our relationship’s complicated. You’re balls-deep in the indie-publishing and small-market press and you're abusing that power. Your unique service not only accepts payments for our books, but also allows our publishers and online vendors to collect and send us our royalties. This feature arguably had a lot to do with how we got big enough for you to decide we needed a chaperone when we explore our sexuality on the written page. To date, you have no competitor, no alternative for us to fall back on, it’s your way or the high way, and here we are, faced with the metaphorical reality we as writers in this sub-genre are barefoot and pregnant and it’s winter.

We’re going to have intercourse, and you know it. All we have left to negotiate is whether I'm going to spit or swallow what you’re shoving down my throat.

Pardon me for being rude, but I’m gonna spit.

I’m calling your Customer Service to complain about your Morality-by-Debit Card policy every hour. I’m going to burn up your US phone line: 1-800-221-1161 and I’m going to encourage my friends talk about what a bad relationship you are as well. Those living outside the US can call this number: 1-402-935-2050. I know you’ll take my call between 4 am and 10 pm M-F Pacific Time, and 6 am to 8 pm Pacific Time Saturday and Sunday. I'm going to drive your computerized secretary Sarah  to tears.

I’m calling my elected representatives to tell them I want you to stick to what you do best –transferring my money from Tab A to Slot B, and leave the rest to me.
I’m going to make hash of you on Twitter using #Paypal and #StopCensoringErotica, and I’m begging all who read this right now to re-tweet, repost, and generally raise immortal hell the way only a woman scorned can do, until you accept I’m mature enough to be in this relationship, but will not kneel down to your moralist agenda.

I'm putting my name on every petition I can find, and I have the Change.Org petition linked at the top oft his blog. 

I’ll continue withdrawing my royalties as soon as they’re deposited, and I’ve cut up your card and mailed it back to you.
That’s the thing about shoving something down my throat. I still have my own teeth.

And, I believe, if we make enough of an outcry, you'll withdraw that offensive item you're sticking down my throat. I think your rigid stance might shrivel in the cold light of negative publicity.

Make the calls. Sign the petitions, shout out on Twitter, blog, re-post other's blogs on this topic..INFORM YOUR READERS THEIR CHOICE IS BEING TAKEN AWAY. Let them decide whether they want their debit card to decide what's available for them to read.


  1. the last time someone tried to ram something down my throat they found out I had teeth ;) I am 53 years old, competent in ever way, and will continue to decide for myself what I will do with my money and my mind.