A fox may steal your hens, sir,
A whore your health and pence, sir,
Your daughter rob your chest, sir,
Your wife may steal your rest, sir,
A thief your goods and plate.
But this is all but picking,
With rest, pence, chest and chicken;
It ever was decreed, sir,
If lawyer’s hand is fee’d, sir,
He steals your whole estate. - John Gay (air from The Beggar’s Opera)
Many of you may have already heard this news; my version is paraphrased from an AP original:
Craigslist appears to have surrendered to political pressure over erotic ads posted on its website, shutting down its adult services section Saturday (September 4th) and replacing it with a black bar that simply says “censored.” The move comes just over a week after a group of state attorneys general claimed there weren’t enough “protections” against potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution. It’s not clear if the closure is permanent, and it appears to only effect ads in the United States.
The listings again became a convenient political scapegoat after the jailhouse suicide last month of a former medical student who was awaiting trial in the killing of a masseuse he met through Craigslist. Critics have likened the services to “virtual pimping”, while Craigslist maintained the site was carrying ads even tamer than those published by some newspapers.
Like many other free online forums, Craigslist typically does not review ads before they are posted by users. But in 2008, under pressure from 40 state attorneys general, Craigslist began requiring posters to provide a working phone number and pay a fee for placing an ad in what is now the adult services section. Several months later, Craigslist adopted a manual screening process in which postings are reviewed before publishing. But despite these efforts at conciliation, officials continued to claim Craigslist was still not doing enough to stop illegal ads from appearing. The company said Saturday it would issue a statement on the matter, though it didn’t say when.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, one of the 17 attorneys general who sent last week’s threat letter, said in a statement that he welcomed the change and was trying to verify Craigslist’s official policy going forward. In an August 24th letter, the state attorneys general said Craigslist should remove the section because it couldn’t adequately block potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution and child trafficking.
Authorities point to the case of 24-year-old Philip Markoff as a prime example of the dangers posed by Craigslist services. The former medical student was accused of killing a masseuse he met through the hugely popular classified advertising site, which was founded by Craig Newmark. Markoff committed suicide in the Boston jail where he was awaiting trial.
Craigslist’s adult services section carried ads for everything from personal massages to a night’s companionship, which critics say veered into prostitution. Craigslist’s CEO Jim Buckmaster said in a May blog posting that the company’s ads were no worse than those published by the alternative newspaper chain Village Voice Media. He cited one explicit ad which included the phrase: “anything goes $90.”
John Palfrey, a Harvard University law professor and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said the move from Craigslist was still a victory because it moved the ads off a highly visible location. ”Will people be able to find these ads online? The answer is almost certainly,” he said. “Will they be able to find these on legitimate sites? I think the answer is probably not.”
Regular readers will remember my previous columns on this subject, August 17th and August 26th; this is merely the latest verse in the same old song of tyranny. Hypocritical politicians, frustrated by their complete impotence in the ongoing war to stop middle-class men from enjoying the same convenient access to women that they themselves enjoy, found a high-profile scapegoat in Craigslist and have pursued it for several years now. This result was therefore both inevitable and unsurprising; if not even Standard Oil or AT&T could stand up to the massed power of politicians out to make political coin, how could a comparatively tiny internet ad company hope to? I am pleased to note, however, that Craigslist got in one final dig by calling a spade a spade: Rather than simply removing the section, its place was covered by a black bar saying “censored”, which is the bald truth.
Though regular readers are probably almost as good by now at translating these anti-prostitution articles as I am, let’s look at some of the low points in this one. First there’s the idea of an “illegal ad”; as far as I know, only an ad which violates “truth in advertising” laws can be illegal. An ad for an illegal service is still itself legal unless some local law specifically prohibits the advertisement, which is why escort services can have phone book ads. Then in the second paragraph we are again subjected to the moronic “subjugated whore” stereotype; an ad placed by a woman for her own services magically becomes “pimping” when sex is involved because (all together now) everybody knows all whores have pimps. If a woman places an ad in Craigslist for maid services, is Craigslist a “virtual slave-dealer” because some maids in history were slaves? In the fourth paragraph we are again insulted by the equation of voluntary adult prostitution with “child trafficking”, and in the fifth paragraph we are treated to the bizarre notion that while ads for personal services are too dangerous to allow, personals ads which allow inexperienced, naïve adult women to meet complete strangers are not. Obviously, this is because all whores are imbeciles who are incompetent to make our own decisions and therefore need to be protected (all together again) “for our own good”. But the last paragraph is simultaneously the funniest and saddest of all; a Harvard Law professor is such an ignorant imbecile that he proclaims Craigslist the most “legitimate” source of online prostitution ads, when it is in fact regarded by both escorts and clients as the least legitimate one!
Though the politicians will crow, strut and preen like cartoon pimps, claiming a great “victory” over lawlessness and loose women (or “victims of human trafficking”, whichever one we are this week in that particular politician’s district), they have as usual accomplished exactly nothing. Escort services and established independents don’t advertise on Craigslist, nor do streetwalkers; most of the girls who do are either low-end independents or “semi-pros” with “regular” jobs who are just doing it for a little extra money. There are many other internet classified sites (such as Backpage) which accept erotic ads, not to mention the plethora of escort websites and local newspaper ads as mentioned in the news article. And surely these lawyers recognize that they haven’t even succeeded in getting the girls off of Craigslist; they’ll just go undercover in “therapeutic services” (i.e. massage) or the personals (watch for a spike in “women seeking men” ads) which don’t cost anything and are completely anonymous, thus removing the danger of Craigslist being forced to surrender their records via court order. If anything, this “victory” has actually cost the busybodies a weapon they could use to victimize low-end escorts, thus proving that they really don’t care about reality, just appearances.
Of course, that’s the way it always is; ever wonder why escort services are legal (and rarely attacked by government-employed lawyers)? It’s because lawyers are among our best customers, and they don’t want to cut off easy access to easy women by persecuting the services. So they allow the cops to harass streetwalkers and play sadistic little tricks on escorts and call girls, knowing full well that even if a few high-quality girls are scared out of the profession by police shenanigans there will still be plenty of others available just by opening the yellow pages and picking up the phone. These sleazy sons of bitches don’t care how many individual girls get hurt; most of them prefer endless variety anyhow and consider individual escorts to be a disposable commodity. This is illustrated by the anecdotal evidence that though easily 10% of my clientele were lawyers, I don’t recall a single regular who was.
Lawyers by their very nature are bigger prostitutes than any escort could ever be; we only hire our services, but lawyers sell their souls. A prostitute is willing to pretend to like a man in private for an hour, but a lawyer is willing to pretend to like him, believe him and espouse his cause for weeks, months or years, not merely in private but for all the world to see. Most prostitutes reject customers who seem dangerous or for whom we feel strong antipathy; few lawyers would reject the business of even the most frightening, reprehensible or morally repugnant client. And while we are willing to speak little white lies in order to stroke a man’s ego and make him feel good about himself, most lawyers are willing to vomit forth the most abominable falsehoods in order to destroy the lives of men they believe to be innocent or secure the release of men they believe to be both guilty and dangerous. How most of them must hate us! The subtlety of our whoring makes the egregiousness of theirs all the more obvious in comparison, and one of us can make more money with no formal education than the majority of lawyers can make after years of expensive and grueling law school. Worst of all, Pompous Q. Snob, Esquire is forced to swallow his pride and pay up if he wants pussy from one of us, just like any of the “little men” he looks down upon. Other men and unprofessional women may be awed by his credentials, titles, and position, but the only thing we care about is his cash.
Since politicians exceed other lawyers in whoredom by the same degree to which lawyers exceed the most mercantile of prostitutes, their hatred of us is that much greater and is magnified by the fact that our lives are a constantly reiterated affirmation of their complete inability to control everything and everyone; no matter how many of their perverse desires we may grant in bed, we deny them their greatest psychosexual thrill: The illusion of power over others, which they crave above all else. Most people are willing to crawl to the politician, licking his boots in order to gain a few scraps from his table, but the whore merely laughs at him and reverses the relationship while providing living proof of the inability of his profession to eradicate or control ours. But desires thus frustrated always seek a scapegoat, and Craigslist is simply the latest. As long as society allows its least mature, least spiritually evolved members to hold positions of leadership, and as long as we collectively allow governments to attempt to dictate the consensual behavior of individuals, this kind of thing will continue to happen with depressing regularity.