Saturday, March 3, 2012

Censorship of our First Admendment Rights

Authors were notified this weekend that the financial institutions that handle payment for books on Smashwords will longer allow Smashwords to process payments for books that contain erotica, rape, incest, or bestiality. I do not write or read erotica, but I am reminded of the famous quote regarding the first amendment rights of freedom of speech. Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I do not like censorship because it is impossible to come up with anything that makes sense. In one city a few years ago, the city fathers were well on their way toward writing an obscenity ordnance, when one member wanted to go one step further and outlaw animals going naked. Her amendment would have required owners to make their pets or farm animals wear diapers.

My books contain every crime or sin imaginable, although I try to present it in a sensible way in which the good guys win and the criminals get the punishment they deserve. While I do not like erotica, I see this act as a first step in banning other anti-social acts from literature. What would happen to our stories if they banned murder, bank robbery, simple assault, or criticism of corrupt officials? Censorship in any form is a slippery slope that I don’t think we can deal with until we take a giant step up the evolutionary scale from where we are. If the management of these financial institutions gets away with this, can censorship of Amazon or the other publishers be far behind? Below, you will find the addresses of the financial institutions and credit card companies that are leading this crusade to reign in our rights of freedom of expression. If you agree with me, send them an email stating your position.


American Express



EBay (Paypal)


Christy Tillery French said...

I'm with you on this, Joe. I particularly like this quote from Jeremy Bentham: "As to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends."

I find this hard to believe, especially this day and age. I really hoped all that was behind us.

Linda Lovely said...

I'm writing a historical novel right now in which a rape is the trigger for a series of later murders. The rape is not described in detail or sensationalized, but it's a necessary component of the plot. I will write PayPal, which I use for payments to a number of writer organizations.

Joe Prentis said...


I did the same thing in my novel ‘Innocent.’ Under the guidelines they are trying to inforce, the Bible could not be sold. Too much rape, incest, and other sexual sins.

Joe Prentis said...


I wonder who the people are who are trying to force this on the rest of us and what they read.

Christy Tillery French said...

Really makes me wonder what their mindset is, not to mention IQ. So archaic!

Denise Verrico said...

I write fantasy that sometimes explores different cultures' sexuality (not erotica). In my vampire novels, some of the characters were street kids who have seen the worst, prostitution, rape etc. . As a writer, one explores dark territory in order to illuminate. Many classics of literature deal with mature subjects. I understand if they are trying to screen out child porn and the like, but in historical fiction and fantasy there are often characters under 18 in sexual situations. A Game of Thrones is an example of this.
I believe Paypal will regret this policy.

om writers and readers

Curtis said...

Two things I always think about when censorship is purposed:

Those who burn books, will also burn people.

We are all so smart, we know what should be said, but often the unpopular turn out to be right!

Joe Prentis said...

There is always a problem when there are so many who are appointed to watch the rest of us. Common sense can easily be shoved aside, and half-baked ideas pushed to the forefront. I guess it all comes down to ‘who is going to watch the watchers.’ Our hold on freedom is tenuous at the best of times. I appreciate your thoughts and thank you for posting.