Commentary forum 09/15/10

Criminal attorneys general attack law-abiding Craigslist

By Mark Luedtke

Mark Luedke

The last couple of months before an election are dangerous times in America. Every elected official, power-hungry megalomaniacs all, in office is looking to use the government’s gun against somebody, somewhere in spectacular fashion to gain headlines and buy votes. Attorneys general of 17 different states chose Craigslist as their victim.

For several years Craigslist has been the target of heavy criticism because prostitutes and child sex traders post on the site. The criticism reached a fever pitch after the arrest last April of the “Craigslist Killer,” a man who stalked women advertising for sex on Craigslist. In response, Craigslist announced it would review adult ads and reject those that obviously announced sex for sale.

Then CNN reporter Amber Lyon, a pretty, young blond girl chosen by CNN execs for maximum exploitation of the Craigslist sex story, placed a provocative ad in the adult section containing the phrase, “Sweet, innocent, new girl with a WILD streak…” and $200 per hour. Craigslist did not remove the ad, and 15 men called about the ad in the first three hours. But why would they remove the ad? She didn’t offer sex. She didn’t say she was under age. Lyon wants viewers to believe everybody who posts a provocative ad is a criminal, guilty until proven innocent. Lyon proceeded to ambush Craigslist’s founder, a socially inept misfit, and make him look terrible even though he had long ago turned over the company to a more capable manager. If Lyon had wanted to do an honest report, she would have interviewed the current CEO and mentioned that since May 2009, Craiglslist has rejected over 700,000 postings. She didn’t.

When Lyon called Craigslist “the Walmart of child sex trafficking,” the AGs had the soundbite they needed to pounce, so they picked up the government’s gun and put it to the heads of the executives of Craigslist even though they have no legal leg to stand on. In 1996 Congress passed the Communications Decency Act, considered “the cornerstone of Internet Freedom.” The law immunizes providers of interactive Web services against prosecution by state and local officials over illegal content posted by their users. Without this protection, the Web as we know it would not exist. Even a broken clock gets the time right twice a day.

But elected officials get paid by robbing the rest of us at the point of a gun; they’re all corrupt and self-serving, so they never allow a silly little thing like the law to limit their lust for wealth and power at our expense. CNN had painted a picture of Craigslist as a pimp and child molester, and the opportunity to abuse their power for their personal gain was irresistible.

According to the AGs, two children wrote an open letter to Craigslist and asked them to take down the adult section because “they were trafficked for sex.” You might think adults would know better than children. You might think that the AGs would know that if they took down Craigslist’s adult section, the ads would simply move somewhere else. You might think that the AGs would understand it’s their job to capture and prosecute criminals, not Craigslist’s. You might think government could use Craigslist to track down sex criminals. The AGs know this, but they’ll never admit it. The letter from the AGs would make Machiavelli proud. First they wielded CNN’s ambush interview as a weapon, the accused Craigslist of facilitating crime, and then they showed all their cards:

“We recognize that Craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads. No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist.”

Craigslist is like Walmart online. It has 50 million users. The AGs had to shut down Craigslist’s adult section because it highlighted the futility and corruption of our government monopoly on security. Monopolies invariably provide lower quality products at inflated prices because they are protected from competition. Government is also protected from competition, and it obtains its revenue by robbing people at the point of gun. Therefore government is the most inept and corrupt institution ever invented by man. Government monopolies combine the worst of both. The government monopoly of security services is hopelessly corrupt and inept, and Craigslist made that obvious to everybody, so the AGs attacked the law-abiding while ignoring the criminals who post on it. Not to mention that government has no business sticking its nose in the consensual activities of adults.

Government supposedly derives its power from the people, and supposedly has no powers beyond the powers of the people, but nobody has the power to force Craigslist to censor its adult section. The AGs were the aggressors, not Craigslist. The AGs threatened peaceful Craigslist executives with violence: breaking in their offices, stealing their property, locking them in chains then throwing them into a cage. By any civilized standards, the AGs should be arrested and prosecuted for their actions and Craigslist should be free to run its bulletin board however it wants. But our government is a criminal organization, so that will never happen.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com


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