Censorship, Kink, and the New “Normal”

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by Lon Sarver

The people who run the kinky social networking website FetLife have found themselves in trouble. Two of the banks holding their merchant accounts shut down their accounts after being requested to do so by a major credit card company. The banks weren’t given specifics, just that the credit card company found material on FetLife objectionable and/or immoral. And since not complying could lead to being fined or otherwise penalized by the credit company…

So the Powers That Be at FetLife have responded by unilaterally deleting hundreds of accounts and discussion forums, in the hope that they can preserve their ability to use credit card transactions to fund the site. The theory seems to be that if FetLife can remove everything the money people object to, then they’ll turn the taps back on.

We’ll see how well that goes.

Neither the credit card companies nor the banks are required to give specific reasons for shutting down the accounts. The people who run FetLife, in consultation with their lawyers, banks, and so forth, have come up with some very vague guidelines. In time, they hope to have a better policy in place. Until then, they and the volunteers who help them run the site, are pretty much guessing.

Now, keep in mind, this could happen to anyone who relies on credit card sales and deals in something someone at the credit card company finds objectionable. No need for a government to step in; all it takes is for the company to reasonably expect that the political climate is conducive to moral censorship.

Which it is, now, in America. Mike Pence is a religious conservative, and given how generally unfit Trump is, who do you expect will be doing most of the actual decision-making? Worse, FetLife is based in Canada. They don’t even have to deal with American courts–just credit companies and banks based here.

This is the thing a lot of people don’t get about what’s going on now is that the government doesn’t have to act. All it takes is for leaders to signal that action will be condoned, even praised, will encourage those inclined to act to do so. Whether they’re racist thugs on the streets or moralistic thugs in the boardrooms.

Batten down, my friends. This won’t stop with kink or porn. The ride is just starting.


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