Yesterday was a sad day for men nicknamed John and the women they patronize using Craigslist’s Adult / Erotic Services section in the US as under extreme pressure from attorneys general and other politicians across the country in spite of its aggressive efforts to manually police each post in this section for both obviously and vaguely illegal solicitations or anything otherwise excessively sketchy.

Now, just in case you haven’t already noticed, where you’d otherwise see the Adult Services link, which is where you once may have seen Erotic Services, you’ll instead see a cold and very unerotic button which has no hyperlink behind it (I checked, don’t waste your time pulling it up).

The Craigslist people, in addition to insisting they’d been making a diligent effort to keep prostitution (and its ugliest forms) at bay, have been especially frustrated that they have been singled out disproportionately for facilitating, brokering, nocturnal carnal adventures, pointing fingers at Facebook and even harder at eBay for getting away with much worse in this poignant and highly NSFW entry on their blog which they use as their channel of public statements, the most frequent motif being their plights of maintaining the erotic services section. They have not yet used to comment on this maneuver; but that they used the word censored and put it in black rather than just removing the link, to me, speaks for itself, something along the lines of “Those sons of bitches have successfully twisted our arm hard enough for their own political gain that we have no choice but to cave and take this whole thing down — and parenthetically, censorship sucks and as Americans maybe that should resonate you. And come on, what about eBay, Loquo, Facebook and many newspapers?”

To try to start to answer that question myself is that there haven’t been any high profile cases involving murder, Ivy League colleges and prison suicides that I know of with these other sites, and the volume of other and less objectionable activity on those sites dwarfs that of Craigslist’s ratio (I’m estimating), a site that for many is the go-to guy of getting in touch with someone who offers an ad stating that “anything goes $90” even though there are (I’m told) countless alternative websites offering the same thing minus the manual policing, minus the women having to hand over their cell phone number and credit card to post and also minus such a strong concentration of law enforcement combing those sites for trouble. Kind of a whack-a-mole situation, that shutting this down won’t have any significant actual affect on the prevalence of prostitution, but it is juicy political fodder.

While I feel like I need to appear to be neutral about this whole thing, I’ll leave you with a link to a well and succinctly articulated argument by the late, great George Carlin.

Doug Simmons

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