Is Common Sense Common Anymore?
So now comes word that Craigslist has replaced its infamous “erotic services” section with a more responsible “adult” section. Did somebody sneak up on us during the night and stamp “stupid” on our foreheads?! I’m so furious I’m almost speechless — almost. Where to begin?
You might remember the uproar last year when Boston University medical student Philip Markoff was accused by police of using Craigslist, one of the Internet’s most popular sites, to find females to assault or kill. What stunned a lot of people was that Craigslist openly had an erotic services section that clearly promoted prostitution. Forty three attorney generals in different states went so far as to accuse the company of operating an online brothel by allowing prostitutes to advertise on its site. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said about Craigslist in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair, which carries a riveting story about the Markoff case, “They were certainly enablers insofar as their ads linked the victim and the alleged killer, and they had fair warning their ads were putting people in danger.”
So what did Craigslist do? Well, they did start blocking those ads that blatantly solicited prostitution. They also blocked the graphic nude images of the prostitutes themselves. Sort of.
I say “sort of” because they happily continue to take in ads which are nothing more than thinly veiled proposals for the very same sexual favors in return for the very same money. Now there are ads offering “sensual massages” and “overnight companionship” Instead of posing naked, women pose in bikinis or less. One woman, a “Miss Honey,” described herself in her ad as an eager and motivated bombshell with a beautiful bedroom.
Is it just me, or does this insult your intelligence? I mean, if you are running Craigslist and don’t want to change what you’re doing, I would have more respect for you if just said so and told the cops to go pound sand! But playing some silly word games is ridiculous. Everyone on the planet knows what these so-called new, improved ads are really all about. Lassie can figure this one out, and yet Craigslist is apparently getting away with it, at least so far.
I just don’t understand the tendency we have in this country to change what we call something and pretend that it’s different, that it’s OK. May I just go down a side road for a moment and talk about the biggest such scam of all, which, of course, are cigarettes? There is no question that the carcinogens in cigarettes are deadly. But instead of shutting down the tobacco industry, the government continues to allow it to flourish as long as the companies agree to put a “warning” label on their packages about the dangers of smoking. Good grief, the government only stopped paying subsidies to tobacco farmers a couple of years ago. Let’s see: We know cigarettes will kill you, we know cigarettes are proven to be addictive, and so the government has decided that all the companies should do is “warn” us. If people shouldn’t buy cigarettes, then DON’T SELL CIGARETTES, YOU DUMMIES!
Have we all gone soft in the head? Is common sense just not common anymore? The only thing we’re changing are the labels — but people will still be just as dead. (By the way, I’m pounding the keys so hard my fingers hurt!)
Anyway, off that soap box and back to Craigslist. You may ask, what can we do about Craigslist, especially when their lawyers will say that the Constitution guarantees free speech. Well, they may have the freedom of the pen, but we have the “power” of the pen. If all of us start writing our congresspeople and say, “Hey, if you let people use Craigslist to sell prostitution in this town, you will not be elected next time around,” then we will get results. All we have to do is tell the men and women in Congress, “Make no mistake, you either do something about this or we’ll do something about you.” We can go to our local police chief or county sheriff and say, “You’re allowing a prostitution ring to stay up and running right here in our town, and it’s time to do something about it.”
And let me just make it clear, there are plenty of Internet sites or media organizations other than Craigslist that should be drawing our wrath. In newspapers, magazines and chatrooms everywhere are ads for “private masseuses” and “lap dancers” who will come to your home or whatever. The adult sex trade business is just out of control.
I’m up for any ideas to getting a handle on this. What do you think? I’m sure some of you disagree. Let me know, and maybe we’ll come up with a plan together.