eBay has banned auctions of CDs and merchandise by Norwegian musician Varg Vikernes, on grounds that Vikernes holds views that the company deems offensive.
Heavy metal fan site MetalSucks.net was the first to report on the ban, after an anonymous reader said that when he tried to list two CDs by Vikernes' one-man band Burzum for auction, he was shown a message saying that "based on references to particular organizations," his listings violated eBay's policy against offensive material and could not be submitted.
Searching the auction site still reveals plenty of listings for Burzum-related material, yet while those items have not been removed, attempts to add new listings are now being automatically rejected.
When El Reg asked eBay for confirmation, company rep Ryan Moore told us via email: "eBay has determined that Burzum-related items are associated with views of an individual that violate our Offensive Materials policy, including the promotion of hatred and violence."
To be sure, Vikernes has done enough in his time to offend most anyone. An admitted racist and outspoken anti-Semite, he most recently made headlines when a French court found him guilty of hate speech offenses for blog posts described as "inciting racial hatred and defending war crimes."
Vikernes has denied writing the blog posts in question, but his own website includes a "library" of articles and writings to which he lays claim willingly, several of which fit the court's description.
He's also a convicted murderer and arsonist, who is out on probation after serving 15 years of a 21-year sentence – the maximum penalty allowable in Norway.
And yet, despite being an awful human being, Vikernes' music reflects little of his actions or his ideology, focusing instead on themes of fantasy and escapism. His most recent releases have all been interpretations of European pagan myths and folk tales, while early Burzum albums drew inspiration mainly from Dungeons & Dragons and novels like The Lord of the Rings. The music's aesthetic is dark, but much of it isn't even particularly violent. (One track from Burzum's first, eponymous album is called "The Crying Orc.")
Meanwhile, it doesn't take much searching on eBay to reveal plenty of material that can be considered offensive or that promotes racial hatred, including T-shirts endorsing neo-Nazi punk band Skrewdriver, CDs by racist country singer Johnny Rebel, and more than 200 copies of Mein Kampf.
If eBay's offensive material policy appears to be somewhat selectively enforced, however, there may be a simple reason why Vikerenes' music has been singled out: apparently, in Burzum's case, somebody complained.
As eBay's Moore explained to The Reg, "eBay policy does not allow items that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance. Listings that are brought to our attention that violate these policies are removed from eBay." ®