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Stupidity in South Carolina

Posted by libhom Thursday, May 07, 2009

A rather dim prosecutor is making threats against Craigslist (TG Daily 5/6/09).

South Carolina attorney general Henry McMaster asks Craigslist to remove certain “portions” of its classifieds categories that allow for “the solicitation of prostitution and the dissemination and posting of graphic pornographic material,” which is considered a crime in the state. Craigslist has ten days to comply with the request, otherwise the site will be targeted by a criminal investigation and prosecution, McMaster said.

South Carolina is the latest state to go after Craigslist and its “Casual Encounters” section, which is believed by authorities to have become a major channel to promote prostitution. The site has been in hot water over the issue for some time, especially with the attorneys general from Missouri, Connecticut and Illinois, with whom representatives of Craigslist met yesterday to discuss the issue.

In a letter addressed to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, McMaster demands the removal of the section within ten days, until “5:00 pm EST, the close of business Friday May 15, 2009.” He claims that following a November 2008 promise the site “to install safeguards to combat unlawful activity and improve public safety” has not happened yet and that there are “indications” that Craigslist “has not installed sufficient safeguards since November to prohibit the Internet site from being used as a vehicle to advertise or solicit prostitution.” He added that “the unrestricted manner in which graphic pornographic pictures are posted and displayed by users on the craigslist site and their accessibility to minors” is also a concern.

You would think that a prosecutors would have better things to do with their time. But, with the high profile "Craigslist Killer" case, grabbing headlines is a high priority.

There's an obvious problem with these efforts to gain political traction by going after Craigslist. It's blantantly unconstitutional to prosecute them or sue them.

Efforts to get rid of prostitution also have never been effective. Those laws end up throwing sex workers in prison or extorting fines from them, but don't stop prostitutes because of the huge demand for these services. It's similar to the futility of drug laws.

Keep in mind that much of the ranting on Craigslist is typical technophobic scapegoating. Murderers have been targeting women who are sex workers or who are perceived as sex workers for centuries. (Remember Jack the Ripper?) It isn't the new technology that is the problem.

As long as our society demonizes prostitution and prostitutes, it will justify abuse of people in this profession in the minds of people with hateful and violent tendencies. An important first step towards ending this demonization and its horrific consequences is to legalize prostitution. The last thing that is needed is for irresponsible people in law enforcement and the media to throw tantrums over this profession just to appeal to the worst in human instincts.




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