When in doubt, blame the internet

Craigslist has now removed adult services ads from all parts of its site serving American cities, bowing to pressure from states attorney generals and the mainstream media, most notably CNN. This move obviously didn’t come out of nowhere, but strangely enough, it did come out of the desire to protect sex workers.

When media in the US began publishing stories in 2009 about the “Craigslist killer,” who robbed and murdered escorts and erotic massage therapists advertising on Craigslist, there was a public outcry for a systemic change to ensure things like this didn’t happen again. Unfortunately these voices weren’t being raised against repressive laws that criminalized prostitution and created unsafe work environments, they were being raised against…wait for it…Craigslist.

You see, the best way for sex workers to protect themselves against violent clients is apparently to pay for a classified ad in a newspaper and undergo a credit check or maybe a background check. Forget checking on the client, that would be silly. At least that’s what the narrative that dominates our mainstream media dictated and continues to dictate.

The narrative recently shifted to one of sex trafficking, but instead of looking at the root causes of this problem, the media, politicians and a good portion of the public ignored, once again, the fact that the same thing could easily happen through traditional media ads. The fact that Craigslist was now screening and charging its adult services advertisers also seems to have fallen below the radar

It’s easy to understand how media conglomerates, many with failing print divisions hoping to increase revenues at the expense of the internet and the politicians in their pockets, can conveniently take the colossal leap of logic needed to justify investigating the victims. It’s also easy to see how a company like Craigslist, which is about much more than escort ads, can cave into pressure and remove their adult services section instead of dealing with the headaches now involved with keeping it.

What’s not clear is how the public can buy it. Considering this actually got to the point where action was taken, it can’t just be the uncritical, media spoon-fed masses, who thought the Iraq war was about freedom. It also can’t just be religious right types or people opposed to prostitution to the point where any way to curb it is a good thing.

No, in this case there had to be some semblance of general support, so then the question becomes why. The answer sadly, is human nature.

When something horrible happens like murder, there needs to be someone or something to blame. Blame the killer? Well, yes, but that’s not enough. Blame our own failings as a society that force someone who frequently works a risky job to do so without any sort of protection? Wait, can’t do that, then we might have to admit our faults and change something. I know, let’s just blame the internet.

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