At least it was quiet one hundred and two years ago today, when the armistice was signed and the guns fell silent.
The Western Front seems far from quiet today, especially here in the USA, where the frenzy of political vitriol has reached an unprecedented pitch. I’ve never experienced anything like the verbal artillery barrage that is currently underway in the wake of the Election to End All Elections. What with enemies lists, calls for the arrest of politicians, and the expressed desire to render one’s political opponents unemployable, it seems that the doughboys have stepped up from the duckboards onto the parapet and are awaiting the order to march out through the wire into No Man’s Land.
I don’t know where all of this is heading, but it won’t end well. The rhetoric being employed, especially by the Left and the Democrat Party, has all but burnt the bridges leading back to some form of “bipartisanship”. This appears to be total war, with no taking of prisoners, and no option but unconditional surrender on the part of one side or the other.
And it’s not just here in America. While we’ve been preoccupied with mail-in votes and pallets of ballots, Britain has plunged headlong into full-blown totalitarianism led by the wild-haired Führer Boris Johnson. Under pandemic rules — and this is true of any country caught up in the Coronamadness, not just the U.K. — there can be no liberty, no civil liberties, no constitutional rights. The citizen has no choice but to obey the ukases of the all-powerful State, which has empowered itself to do anything it deems necessary to keep everyone “safe”.
What a strange time to be alive in!
I continue to be a mask-resister. Whenever I can possibly get away with it, I enter business establishments without wearing a mask, regardless of any sign they might post on the door. Yesterday I shopped maskless at a Food Lion. I noticed just four other people without muzzles — two teenaged girls, one man of about forty, and another man somewhat older.
Sometimes I have an urge to go up to other dissidents and ask them why they aren’t wearing the mandatory face covering. Is it for medical reasons? Or just on a whim? Or principled resistance?
But I’m a severe introvert, so I never ask.
A small wave from the larger political storm broke into my own personal space a couple of days ago. As most of you know, I was shut down by PayPal (clearly for political reasons) right after I started my summer fundraiser back in August. I started looking at alternative payments services, but haven’t settled on a particular one yet.
Two months ago I signed up for one called Stripe. After going through the trouble of setting everything up, I decided that it wasn’t what I needed. I don’t remember exactly why, but it was probably because it offered no way of creating a “donate” button with a single link to a payment form.
I hadn’t thought any further about Stripe since then, but on Monday I got an email from them out of the blue:
I’m writing to let you know that we are no longer able to accept payments for GOV after 2020-11-12. After a recent review of your website and account information, we’ve found that your business presents a higher level of risk than we’re able to work with. Specifically, your business is in violation of our Stripe Services Agreement, section A.7.b (“Restricted Businesses and Activities”) .
Additionally, we request that you remove any references to Stripe on your site, including any code, such as API keys and any plugins . We can provide you with two days to switch to a new provider. After that, you won’t be able to accept additional charges on your account, but we will continue making transfers to your bank account until you receive all of your funds .
If you believe we have made an error in this determination, or have since removed violating content, please let us know.
Since I wasn’t planning on using Stripe, none of this mattered to me. However, just to get an idea of how the rules are enforced against political dissidents, I drilled down into the legal bumf on the Stripe website.
As a matter of interest, the referenced Section A.7.b of the Stripe Services Agreement says:
b. Restricted Businesses and Activities: You may not use the Services to enable any person (including you) to benefit from any activities Stripe has identified as a restricted business or activity (collectively, “Restricted Businesses”). Restricted Businesses include use of the Services in or for the benefit of a country, organization, entity, or person embargoed or blocked by any government, including those on sanctions lists identified by the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).
Please review the list of Restricted Businesses thoroughly before registering for and opening a Stripe Account. If you are uncertain whether a category of business or activity is restricted or have questions about how these restrictions apply to you, please contact us. We may add to or update the Restricted Business List at any time.
Here’s the Restricted Businesses List:
- Investment & credit services
- Money and legal services
- Virtual currency or stored value
- Intellectual property or proprietary rights infringement
- Counterfeit or unauthorized goods
- Regulated or illegal products or services
- Adult content and services
- Get rich quick schemes
- Mug shot publication or pay-to-remove sites
- No-value-added services
- Drug paraphernalia
- High risk businesses
- Multi-level marketing
- Pseudo pharmaceuticals
- Social media activity
- Substances designed to mimic illegal drugs
- Video game or virtual world credits
Included under “High risk businesses” we find:
any business or organization that a. engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence or physical harm to persons or property, or b. engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence toward any group based on race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or any other immutable characteristic
Strictly speaking Gates of Vienna doesn’t “promote or celebrate” violence toward “any group based on race, religion” etc.; it chronicles such violence. But I am not even remotely tempted to wrangle with Stripe’s lawyers on such matters, any more than I was with PayPal’s. I know the rules of this game, and they’re designed to make sure that dissidents like me never win. So I wouldn’t waste my time.
Anyway, we now know that Stripe uses the same rulebook as PayPal, more or less. No surprise there.