This is a brand new weblog. The sidebars are blank for the moment. I don't have a color scheme or interesting photographs, yet. In the past couple days, my thoughts have been pinball-ing around in my brain and I wanted to get them into words while they are still relevant. I'll fix up the place later.
There was a piece in the New York Times this week which caused a lot of outrage in my sphere.The article (which you can read here) made a big deal out of the amount of money Craigslist makes from their "sex ads". There were profit projections with estimates of millions of dollars being pocketed by Craigslist as a direct result of their sex ads. It linked Craigslist advertising to 14 members of the Gambino family mafia who were arrested by the FBI, for selling young girls (15 to 19 years old) for prostituted sex.
I'm not jumping on the band wagon to vilify Craig or Craigslist.
I use Craigslist. My kids use Craigslist.
I think Craigslist is wonderful.
I saw the interview a couple years ago with Charlie Rose...
I’m guessing Mr. Newmark is probably one of the good guys.
By far, the vast majority of the NY Times article was not about the atrocity of forcing young girls to have sex with strangers. This article was mostly about how much money the company makes...and a whole lot of speculating on how much of that comes from their "sex ads." There was plenty of complaining by the author and those quoted because they are not privy to the private financial statements of a private company and private people. Not a whole lot of complaining about those who profit by forcing young girls to have sex.
Where was the outrage over those who place the ads?
Where was the outrage over men who answer those ads?
Not so much in this article by Brad Stone.
There was a time when Craigslist offered to donate all or part of the profit generated from sex ads to charity. Last year Craigslist stated it would no longer commit to donating these profits to charity. For this the AG in Connecticut claims Craigslist is irresponsible. Craigslist didn't say they were no longer donating. Neither did they say they were keeping all the profits to themselves. They don't have to say. They are not a public company. Nothing from Connecticut on the men who take sexual advantage of children.
I stand firm that Craig Newmark, his employees, and his company should keep or spend every cent they make as they see fit. I certainly don't want to be told how to spend my money...do you? Truthfully, I am getting a little tired of the trend where one of the smart-kids comes up with a great idea which makes a ton of money and then the not-so-smart-kids think they have a say on how that money should be spent ....but that's a different post.
I was not surprised by the responses posted by Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, yesterday and today. He's one of the smart-kids. It is part of his job to defend the legality of Craigslist. It is part of his job to object to Craigslist being singled out. Take the time to read “Misdirected Outrage” and “Sad State of Affairs at the New York Times”. These and others can be found on the CEO’s Craigslist Blog.
Ya know….Craigslist is not breaking the law.
The people pimping these girls are breaking the law.
The people answering these ads are breaking the law.
On the other hand, Mr. Newmark and Mr. Buckmaster...I'm one of the smart-kids too. I've been on Craigslist. And while you may have discontinued the "Erotic Services" category, plenty of ads for paid sex can be found. Even the not-so-smart-kids know that "100 Roses" and "100 Kisses" means a cash payment for sex in the "Misc Romance" or "Casual Encounters" or "[whomever] seeking [whatever] sections of the Craigslist Personals. And…if each of the ads are "manually screened by one or more human reviewers" as Mr. Buckmaster claims, then perhaps Craigslist needs to fire those screeners and hire people who are a bit more clued in.
Me personally...I am not so adamant against adult prostitution where the seller has made their own decision and profits fairly from it. I don't like it. I am sorry their circumstances have come to that. But overall, adult consensual prostitution is not a hot button for me. And I totally agree that there are many other places where illegal classified ads for sex are placed. Maybe there is a website or publication which has even more of these ads than Craigslist.
But right now, I'm asking you Mr. Newmark. ‘Cause I use Craigslist and I want to continue to like Craigslist. I'm led to believe that one of your core values is to be community minded with a heavy emphasis on customer service.
Does not your outrage burn when there is force and coercion of children to perform sexual acts? When young children whose circumstances result in adults selling the child's body to be used, often violently, for sex, several times every day, to different men. Most times these children are beaten and drugged into submission. They are not choosing to have their bodies violated by men with money. These children are not profiting or saving up for a better life. Their young bodies are being brutalized by strangers in the most physically painful and mentally damaging way...so that someone else can make a bunch of money.
And Mr. Newmark, it appears that your incredibly successful website is inadvertently helping that to happen. I'd be willing to bet you aren't so proud of the role your website plays in the trafficking of children and women. The coverage and attention to Craigslist and its contribution to the situation have got to be disturbing, to say the least.
Mr. Buckmaster is quoted as saying, "Misuse of Craigslist for criminal purposes is utterly unacceptable, and Craigslist will continue to work with its partners in law enforcement and at nongovernmental organizations until it is eliminated.”
That sounds great...and well crafted by well paid lawyers.
But I am not clear on exactly what that means you are doing.
So, I am asking…as a loyal customer...what are you willing to do to significantly lessen the role your website and your company play in the sale of children for sexual exploitation?