Contrary to what you may have heard, you cannot contract an STD from the Smashwords self-publishing platform. Authors of books in every imaginable genre have turned to this aggregating service for eBook publishing because it is cheap (free actually) and easy (if you follow their Style Guide). I was by far the most analog person on the planet, and I managed to upload my manuscript successfully the first time around in just a few hours.

Today I am surprised to learn that banking law does apply to more than just engaging in questionable lending practices. New rules are being imposed on Smashwords by PayPal restricting the buying and selling of some explicit material. The creator of Smashwords has modified the Terms of Service to include language regarding eBooks with explicit content that they will not allow. Some authors are furious about this restriction and say censorship is being forced upon them. The titillated tantrum isn’t helping to promote Smashwords as an excellent choice for self-publishing. New indie authors are conflicted about whether to settle for pennies on the dollar for sales of their books at popular online retailers or take a chance on being engulfed in flames for their choice to epub on Smashwords.

A friend of mine, when asked about something she’s unsure of responds with a comment I believe is applicable here. She says, “I don’t know, but it’s just like pornography, I know it when I see it.” Sometimes I wonder if we really do know it when we see it. Objectified and yet willingly engaged women all over the world know that sex sells. (a.k.a. pays the bills.) The unspoken rule of course is: as long as men are in on the action, it is acceptable. I wonder if people who purchase those magazines that arrive in the mail with brown paper around them will have to start going to the corner store and paying cash for their reading material. (Just wondering.)

There is NOT ONE REASON to amplify, aggrandize, paint in a positive light or in any way take pleasure in encouraging violent behavior of a sexual nature or any other nature for that matter. Choosing not to talk about it and pretending not to be affected by it doesn’t make it go away. It just allows chaos to ensue. The view-point of just about any person of what constitutes unacceptable behavior will be different from that of any other person. (Assuming they can get beyond what the definition of “is” is.) Reasons to be for or against anything vary wildly from as close as the next room to as far away as a continent. Choose a side if you must, but remember the reasons matter greatly.

4 thoughts on “Unmentionables

  1. I agree with Impower You. I don’t like censorship, and I do prefer not to be exposed to explicit content. But if no one is being coerced into it, then I will just choose not to see it. I find it wrong to actually restrict what people are allowed to write. Of course, there need to be boundaries, but just saying “explicit content” is still a bit to general to base censorship on. It’s a tough situation, but I believe if no one is being forced or hurt, then it should not be censored. Perhaps clearly labelled for content, but not cut off from the public entirely.

  2. I will often take a side against explicit content when it is degrading to other humans. However, the reality I see everyday suggests that people are going to like something different whether I want them to or not. I think taking action against unwilling or coerced participation is much more important than telling people what they can like in their own privacy or what they choose to write.

    Whatever customers and authors Smashwords lose, someone else will surely pick up that piece of the market. It’s too bad that PayPal is forcing this decision on them, but Smashwords does not have to use their service. There are others available.

    1. According to Shortlist.com, here are the top banned books of all time. There is a brief description of each book along with the reason why it was banned at http://www.shortlist.com/shortlists/10-banned-books, in case you’re interested. To me it just falls into the category of “things that make you say hmmmmmm.” Thanks for the comment Leah.

      Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
      The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
      Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)
      Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
      The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)
      The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky (1999)
      Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)
      American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis (1991)
      The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)
      Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

      1. Hmmmm indeed. I have read some. I have no interest in others, but would not outright ban the right to read them. I think people get too caught up in needing others to believe what they do. These sort cannot accept that is not possible for everyone to be the same. I don’t know why and I am not curious enough to find out. 🙂

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