Thursday, April 21, 2005

eBay's answer

I complained, like many Catholics, to eBay about selling, twice, what has been represented as being consecrated Communion hosts. Many bloggers have reported eBay's response as being "eh, so what? not our problem."

This is the actual email answer:

Thank you for taking the time to write us. We know your time is valuable and we appreciate your taking a moment to express concern over this particular item.

We understand that you are upset at having seen certain Catholic items or items related to the Pope on eBay. Because eBay's community is a diverse, international group of more than 135 million users with varied backgrounds and beliefs, there are times when some items listed on eBay by sellers might be offensive to at least some of our users somewhere in the world. At times, members may see listings that they may consider morally wrong or objectionable. However, even though these listings may be offensive to some, please remember that most of the time the law does not prohibit the items.

Due to the fact that eBay's focus is to have a free and diverse community, we are reluctant to interfere with listings that are not illegal. Regarding offensive items, there are many items that are considered sacred to many people of various religions, and we sometimes hear complaints about these items. Examples would be Catholic relics of saints, Mormon (LDS) garments, certain Buddhist tablets, etc. However, eBay has made the decision not to prohibit any item only on the basis of the item being endowed with sacred properties by certain religious groups. In general, eBay will remove items for a violation of our Offensive Materials policy only in extreme examples in which the listing explicitly promotes hatred, violence, or racial intolerance. However, we do not remove religious items that are otherwise legal for sale and do not violate any other eBay listing policy.

Please keep in mind that many of us at eBay may also share your distaste with an item, and may not support the sale. In fact, eBay has many Catholic employees. However, we do our best to understand and tolerate the many viewpoints held by our worldwide community. The Eucharist is not illegal to sell, and is generally allowed on eBay as long as the seller does not otherwise include hateful text or images in the listing. Although we realize that you may not agree with this decision on eBay's part, we hope that you can respect the diverse and open nature of eBay's marketplace.

Again, thank you for your report. We appreciate your help in keeping eBay a safe and reputable forum to conduct business.

eBay Community Watch

I don't agree with their policy. But I give them points for trying to be polite, compared to the standard sullen we're-sorry-you-feel-offended-not-that-we-did-anything-offensive answer.


Anonymous said...

I thought ebay attempted to ban certain sales based on other religions. I don't know. I found this on a message board:

“More than disturbing is the reasoning behind the decision. The Community Watch Team of eBay’s Trust & Safety division said that ‘even though these auctions may be offensive to some, please remember that most of the time the law does not prohibit these items.’ But the law has nothing to do with this issue: lots of things are legal and immoral at the same time. Moreover, we are told that eBay has decided not to prohibit any item ‘endowed with sacred properties by certain religious groups.’ Really? Since the policy is conditional, i.e., it refers only to ‘certain’ groups, it would be instructive to know which religious groups eBay would protect. Obviously, Catholics did not make the cut, so who did? And to say that eBay is ‘religiously neutral’ is disingenuous: all moral decisions are judgmental—none can be neutral.

I'm not a Catholic, but I totally sympathize with how offensive is to many,

Therese Z said...

Good catch! That "certain" is in the letter I posted, too.

The more they pound on Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church, because it's a big, easy target, the more precious we should find it to be Christian. Some call it a "white" martyrdom (no blood).

Thanks for identifying how awful this is for a Catholic. They're selling Jesus!



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