Saturday, March 10, 2012

Is PayPal Willing to Take on Disney?

First, a disclaimer: I present the following case to expose PayPal's censorship position for the insanity it is. As I've demonstrated within previous posts, I do not support PayPal's position, or any institution's, regarding censorship that attacks legally-protected fiction, as well as the right of individuals to make their own purchasing decisions.
What is PayPal's hidden agenda? Why take on 3 up-and-coming self-publishing sites? Why didn't PayPal target companies, like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Books-A-Million, and the Disney empire, which might generate a significant amount of press? "The Novel Network" is an affiliate of eBay (PayPal's parent). This may be collusion between eBay and PayPal (a merchant and a transaction processor) to snuff out direct competitors to "The Novel Network" and others within eBay's network.
I understand the logic behind content filters. Structurally, they are doomed to failure, especially when one considers the complexity of languages rich with synonyms, dialects, subtleties, and ever-evolving definitions and terminology. So, other than to cripple Smashwords, eXcessica, and BookStrand, what could be PayPal's real purpose?
I do believe PayPal's misguided efforts are based on antiquated policies dictated as a condition of membership in the card-association's networks. It is they, and their financial backers (including foreign governments), who ultimately own this attack on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Disney, a U.S. icon, is a respected company that is adored by millions around the world. I am not making sensational claims against Disney, its affiliates, or its products. I value Disney's impact on pop culture and appreciate the creativity required to produce such masterful pieces as those I will mention below.
Admittedly, I'm taking PayPal's censorship issue waaay out there to prove a point, which is if was subjected to the same degree of scrutiny, Disney would have to destroy all products, movies, rides, et all, and marketing collateral that may or may not directly or indirectly contain content that, in this case, PayPal and the card associations deem "objectionable."
Hence, the following satirical review is provided as comic relief to expose how absurd PayPal's position is. Again, this is not a criticism of Disney.

Beauty and the Beast: hosts 20 books listed with the word beast, referring to this title. Content filters would absolutely catch this work, calling it bestiality. As an aside, I've run across a couple of titles, outside of Disney, that rewrite Beauty and the Beast as an erotic story. With the exception of direct sexual references, a content filter wouldn't be able to differentiate the Disney version from an erotic one.
Peter Pan contains a love interest between Peter Pan (a human?) and Tinkerbelle (a fairy). Peter Pan and Wendy make eyes at each other. A content filter would call this a pedophilic and bestial work. It contains a subplot of a teenage-girl's desire for a man/boy/non-human who never wants to grow up.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A young woman (young teen?) lives with 7 small and aged men (possibly gnomes). Is this a pedophilic and bestial story? What should a content filter look for?
Pinocchio: An old man carves a little-boy marionette, which comes to life and eventually lives to serve his master, Gipetto. Could a filter see this as a pedophilic or nemophilic (love of wood, is that illegal?) story? A content filter wouldn't know. Its programmers would have to make assumptions about context.
Sleeping Beauty: Is it necrophilia if a prince kisses a girl who is believed to be dead, or is this a case of Ecstasy being used to knock a woman unconscious so that a lusty man can awaken her loins with a kiss? How would a content filter know the difference?
The Sword and the Stone: If a young boy grabs a sword and yanks it, is this pedophilic writing? Content filters would have to be designed to catch metaphors.
The Jungle Book and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In both stories, a boy hugs and dances with a bear, expressing his love for the animal – bestiality – easy prey for a content filter.
The Little Mermaid, along with its sequel Atlantis and Mermaid titles: A content filter would easily classify these as bestiality for a mermaid (a mythical creature) loves a human.
Aladdin: Jafar's demands on Princess Jasmine might be considered BDSM by a content filter, as he's mentally cruel, threatening torture and death if she doesn't comply with his demand to be his wife.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Would a content filter be able to determine that the "hunchback" character is actually human, though hideously deformed? If not, a filter would consider this a story about bestiality.
Tarzan: a boy raised by a gorilla – this is fodder for a filter, as it would classify this story as bestiality.
Lilo and Stitch: Lilo loves her other-worldly Stitch, a non-human. Bestiality? Certainly, per a content filter. To what degree does Lilo love Stitch? … as a pet? … a pal? … a cohort? … a lover? Certainly, we can tell, but a content filter cannot.
The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina: The likelihood that they are too tiny to be human, along with their desires, classify this title as bestiality, per a content filter.
Monsters, Inc.: Because it contains a subplot about two non-humans of different species dating, a content filter would classify it as bestiality.

This analysis reads like Jerry Falwell attacking the Teletubbies, doesn't it? I wonder if PayPal will go the same way as the irreverent reverend.
In summary, any producer of non-human love stories or those of a caring nature involving minors, would come under a content-filter's scrutiny. The burden of proof would fall on the author and publisher. Disney, DreamWorks, and all the others don't experience content filtering although they historically create and promote products that would not stand up against the rigors of a content filter. However, such products are rapidly consumed by the public without concern or fear of repercussion for purchasing or viewing these products. Legal fiction is protected, no matter the industry. No institution, government, enterprise, or individual has the right to censor legal content. As I proved in this case, if granted the power, whether by law or attrition, the noose would quickly tighten to include works created by Disney's team.


  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHA! You know, I have always found Snow White suspicious... Just sayin' ;)

    On the serious side this is a very good point. Meanwhile, books with titles or descriptions that are carefully worded, or even outright bogus, slip under the content filter net and are "approved". What are they going to do next? insist that someone read each one? (Hint: that's what I think it will one day come to and then we're right back to the gatekeepers of the traditional world.)

  2. Good point, Joleene - is this a subversive plot that eventually heralds the end of self-publishing? If PayPal's position is legitimized, the noose will tighten. Some folks mocked Orwell's 1984, but who's laughing now? Hmm...maybe we're not so far away from "Fahrenheit 451." Who knows, maybe one day, an agent's job will mutate into that of a "fireman."


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