Monday, September 6, 2010

Craigslist and Liberal Values

When Dr. Phil started his anti-Craigslist campaign, I could understand it. He's an ultra-conservative, so what should you expect? When a middle-class married woman said she had a price-list of sexual services (all typed up on quality paper) and her husband had to pay her in cash for every service, Dr. Phil said that was healthy and acceptable. Of course, this woman was selling her body to her husband and, evidently, this makes it somehow not prostitution. Then, Dr. Phil began his attacks on Craigslist for publishing announcements for the same kind of thing the married lady in question was practicing with her husband.

In attacking Craigslist, Dr. Phil stated that "Craigslist gave rise to prostitution." I guess he meant that prostitution was on the rise because of Craigslist but both these statements are quite hilarious. Cook County Sheriff agrees with Dr. Phil's weird notion that Craigslist creates prostitution:
Craigslist is the single largest source of prostitution in the nation. ... Missing children, runaways, abused women and women trafficked in from foreign countries are routinely forced to have sex with strangers because they're being pimped on Craigslist.

People might be forgetting this but prostitution began a long time (and I mean a really long time)  before anybody heard of Craigslist, or even Internet. Craigslist cannot be "a source of prostitution." People are the only source of prostitution. Craigslist is a source of advertisement of sexual services, nothing more. Censoring Craigslist will not make prostitution disappear or even diminish. Can anybody imagine a prostitute saying to themselves: "Hmm, Craigslist is closed, well, then I won't prostitute myself any more and go find gainful employment"? Seriously? Is anybody really that dense?

Well, we all know what Dr. Phil is like and can't expect too much from him. It's sad, though, that the liberal circles have joined in this ridiculous fight against Craigslist, a fight that is being stoked by the dying print media whose dwindling resources are being further sapped by Craigslist. To give an example, Echidne, a famous feminist blogger published a post that celebrates the anti-Craigslist censorship. The post is titled "Craigslist stops pimping under protest." It is as disingenious as Dr. Phil's proclamations on the subject, since Craigslist is free for its users (which is precisely what makes the print media hate this site). We are all used to the religious right defending the freedom of religion only for their own religion and the freedom of speech exclusively for themselves. Are the liberals now going to follow in their footsteps? Will we support censorship for ideas we don't like?


It's Only Bruce said...

I think we are seeing this all over. The left cowering in fear of the right, instead of standing up for their principals. The Democratic Party has, to a large degree, become 'republican light'.

Richard said...

The big problems with craigslist are that it is free, allows the people who use the site to also run it, and allows the users to inter-act with each other directly without outside monitoring. Worst of all it turns a regular profit for Craig Newmark its founder. (See The Starfish and the Spider; the Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, Penguin Books, 2006). Craigslist is a slap in the face to everyone who was silly enough to plunk down the outrageous money needed to earn an MBA.
The whole uproar about prostitutes advertising on craigslist is a red herring to conceal the fact that any website without armies of system administrators or a management hierarchy is a threat right thinking Americans everywhere. If craigslist can do it why not other organizations like universities? Who knows where it could end.

cat said...

Thanks for this. I have seen a lot of posts about craiglist that contain a ton of fearmongering and little fact (how about some evidence that craigslist has this problem to a greater extent than other websites?). Also, there is a lot of erasure of queer people. Queer men and kinky people often use sites like craigslist to meet up for consensual sex, a fact that the vanilla heteros writing the articles don't seem to consider.

Oh, an a side note "The left cowering in fear of the right, instead of standing up for their principals. The Democratic Party has, to a large degree, become 'republican light'." I don't think the left is cowering at all. The dems are in no way, shape, or form the left. They are centrists at best in most cases, as are the vast majority of people that use the 'liberal' label. Hard leftists do not use it often (though there are exceptions). Of the communists, socialists, and leftist anarchists I know, none call themselves a liberal, though many will use the term progressive in certain situations.

Justin said...

It is unfortunate that the Democratic party has begun to mimic the Republican party to a large degree.

But the Democratic party is not really a liberal party, it's simply very slightly left of center.

There are currently two options:

1. Extreme social conservatism coupled with placing corporate interests as equal to those of the state.

2. Moderate social conservatism with slightly more liberal fiscal policy.

The price we pay for a deeply entrenched two party system is that we have little real choice in national elections.

Anonymous said...

It's constantly surprising how terrified of sex most Americans are.


Zog Kadare said...

I don't know if the post went through, here we go again (maybe):

I can't see the logic of your argument. If we forget the 'moral' issue - and look at it coolly - what you say is that advertising is useless, and does not help to increase demand.

Looking at the studies done in Bhutan, for instance, with the fairly recent introduction of television and western style culture we can see the actual effects of 'advertising' - taken in the broadest sense - on demand and the formation of new employment (this includes more prostitution).

My impression is total occlusion of rational thought by way of the polemic-mind (if one can put it that way). If Chomsky - or whoever - made the same recommendation all the sudden we are thinking differently.

Not that I say that rationality (cold thought) is a pancea (as it means precisely apathy qua nutrality). It is quite possible that you are still more correct.

Nice backround photo. :)

Marge said...

What's weird about the whole scenario is that he has to pay her to sleep with her..what kind of a marriage is that?

Richard said...

To further amplify the point that I made about a vendetta against craigslist, a few minutes of research uncovered these lovely sites all of which are “dotcom sites”: Sex Seekers Info; Adult Friend Finder; Alt (“Satisfy your Fetish”); Fling; “the World’s Hottest Adult Personals”); Escort Intro, and so on. All appear to contain ads by female prostitutes who offer a list of services. I suggest anyone using the search words “escort”, “sex finder” or “adult dating” could find dozens more. The difference between these sites and craigslist is apparently you need to pay to join the sites and your access to the women offering various services is controlled by system administrators, monitored by lawyers, and managed by site managers. It is a new level of hypocrisy for some media folks to refer to craigslist as ‘pimping’ when by most rational definitions that is precisely what craigslist does not do.

Clarissa said...

The problem with prostitution is, in my view, not that consenting adults are willing to pay and be paid for sexual services. If that were the case, it's their business, and I personally would not have a problem. I wouldn't ever participate in it myself, but if it what free, consenting people want to do, good for them.

The problem is that so many prostitutes are bullied and abused by pimps who take all their money and exploit them horribly. Often these pimps don't let prostitutes leave the business when they want to.

As Mike suggested on his blog, Craigslist would actually help prostitutes excape from the nefarious influence of these pimps. If the authorities really cared about the well-being of prostitutes, they would welcome such venues as Craigslist. I think Mike is absoultely right here.

Anonymous said...

Clarissa, you're right. I approach it from a utilitarian perspective.

In an ideal world, prostitution would not exist.

However, we do not live in that world, and banning Craigslist and its ads does not make that ideal world any closer; in fact, it makes it farther away as by taking away an advertising venue that the women (usually) in question can use to set their own schedules and find their own clients that helps keep them away from abusive pimps, the real bane of that world.

It's great that liberals can stand on principle, but I draw the line when it harms real people.

We see how well standing on principle worked on the War on Drugs. Can't believe so many liberals are willing to do the same thing to some of the most disadvantaged women there are with a War on Prostitution.


Anonymous said...

I have been using Craig's list lately, and Craig's list has been forcing it's own morals on it's users.

For example, just try selling a cat. OMG! The liberals are all over the ad, and tag it as if it is a crime to sell a cat. Sheesh. Give us a break.

And does Craig's list have a rule against selling guns? I couldn't seem to find any tonight.

So just like usual. The liberals claim that conservatives try to force conservative values on liberals, while pretending that liberals do not force liberal morals on all on society. Lets face it, if anyone spends their life trying to run other people's lives, it is progressive liberals.

I am going to be an active advocate for as the conservative alternative to Craig's list from now on.