And Of Course: Grandstanding Anti-Craigslist Politicians Still Not Satisfied
from the no-surprise-there dept
Well, this one was rather easy to predict. Way back in November, after coming under pressure from various grandstanding state Attorneys General (who seem wholly unfamiliar with Section 230 of the CDA), Craigslist caved in to pressure (despite no legal basis requiring them to do so), and it changed the way its erotic services section worked. The various AGs claimed they were satisfied. But it took all of a few months before some misguided news report showed that people were misusing Craigslist again, and suddenly these AGs sensed an opportunity to get press… so they went on the offensive again, blaming Craigslist for the actions of its users. It makes for a good headline.
Once again, in May, Craigslist caved again and further changed how the site worked and handled “adult” type ads. It also showed that the ads on its site were a lot less graphic than those found on many sites run by traditional newspapers. But, suing the local newspaper doesn’t generate headlines like suing Craigslist. And, given that it did such a good job generating press (and got Craigslist to cave when it didn’t need to), you had to assume that it wouldn’t take long for politicians to start complaining again.
And… here we go. Connecticut’s AG Richard Blumenthal, who has milked the bogus Craigslist story for a while, along with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who sued Craigslist earlier this year, have both come out to once again grandstand against Craigslist and insist that the company still isn’t doing enough.
Seriously. Can someone send either of these gentlemen a copy of Section 230 of the CDA, along with a nice side dish of common sense. To wit:
- It is not Craigslist that is the problem. It is the users of the site who are advertising prostitution. They are the ones violating the law. Not Craigslist.
- Not only that, but Craigslist is very cooperative with law enforcement officials in helping them track down those who break the law via the site. Plenty of law enforcement officials have figured this out and know to use Craigslist as a tool to help them crack down on prostitution.
- Cracking down on Craigslist doesn’t slow down or prevent the illegal activity at all. Those who are involved in prostitution (i.e., the actual law breaking) are still out there, and are quick to find other sources in which to advertise.
- So cracking down on Craigslist is blaming the messenger — and making it more difficult to really crack down on prostitution, by driving it further underground.
You would think that such common sense (and the fact that the law makes this clear as well) would have, perhaps, sunk in by now. But, alas, common sense doesn’t get you headlines in the paper.