September 6, 2010

What's the difference between doing the right thing and doing the right thing so people will think that you're the kind of person that does the right thing?

"Craigslist, by shutting off its 'adult services' section and slapping a 'censored' label in its place, may be engaging in a high-stakes stunt to influence public opinion...."

I'm not asking whether shutting off the adult services ads is the right thing to do — not that you can't discuss that if you want.  I'm really wondering what's the point of accusing a business (or a person) of trying to influence public opinion when it takes some action that supposed to be the right thing to do.

I think the real accusation is that the action is only being taken because attention is being paid to a problem and that, later, when attention wanes, the business/person will go back to their old ways. But is that the situation Craiglist is in? If and when it goes back to its old ways, people are going to notice. Moreover, the recent attention has come in the form of threats of legal action, but Craigslist is obviously not liable (because of the Communications Decency Act, as explained at the link). It's not a matter, then, of trying to avoid these lawsuits by temporarily stopping (even assuming that would work). 

18 comments:

shoutingthomas said...

Whoring seems to be where it's at today?

If you grew up in small town Illinois in the 1950s as I did, you've got to be amazed at the brazen ads for whores in craigslist.

I've often wondered how many are sucker ads placed by law enforcement to snare horny Johns.

Why do you think that shutting down the whore ads is the right thing to do?

Seems to me a remarkably efficient way for whores to advertise and for Johns to find their mama.

I can understand the public outrage, too. Whoring, like drug dealing, should be keep in dark places where the kids can't see. Keeping the neighborhood on the up and up is important.

But, craiglist seems undercover enough for me. You don't have to go there if you don't want to know about it.

bagoh20 said...

It's a great use of free advertising. Craig's list = 100 / government = -1.

KLDAVIS said...

"I think the real accusation is that the action is only being taken because attention is being paid to a problem..."

It strikes me more as straightforward shaming for the purpose of indoctrination. The accusation is that your action is not consistent with your belief. Even if your action is "correct" you still need to bring your heart/mind into alignment or your action is fraudulent. Submit completely to the groupthink, don't just pay it lip service.

bagoh20 said...

Pay attention to the actions - motivations only obscure the facts, and are near impossible to know anyway.

Dead Julius said...

As I read your post, and before clicking on the link, I was thinking to myself that I sure hope this doesn't go to the NY Times, because whatever they have to say about it will surely be a load of putrid horse shit.

Lo and behold, there we go!

Craigslist is pretty old and comes from a time when authentic tech people were creating and running tech sites. These people thought, naively, that you can do what you want so long as it is not explicitly illegal. They took those things called "freedom" and "liberty" at face value, you know. Dealing with asshole establishment politicians was the last thing on their mind; it certainly didn't occur to them that they would ever have to get the OK of the government establishment before making whatever they were inspired to work on.

The trouble happens to every tech company as they grow. They go about their business and then suddenly the folks from the government come calling wanting theirs, and then you are forced to play ball or they'll start throwing up obstructions to the conduct of your business. It's a racket, a shake-down. It happened to Microsoft and to Google. It's also happening right now to Apple as Washington is considering legislation requiring all portable music players like iPods to contain an FM tuner as a payoff to their traditional broadcasting constituency. Engineering by Washington micromanagement, anyone?

Craigslist refused to play this offensive game as long as they could. Their refusal to be extorted is what really pisses off the players in the political establishment. Keep that narrative in mind when you read this quote from the linked piece:

“If this announcement is a stunt or a ploy, it will only redouble our determination to pursue this issue with Craigslist, because they would be in a sense be thumbing their nose at the public interest,” Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general who has headed the campaign against Craigslist, said in an interview by phone on Sunday."

Blumenthal isn't bothered by the sex ads, he's bothered by Craigslist's refusal to outright bow to him and his gang! Are you scared of them yet? Folks like Richard Blumenthal hate technology and they hate freedom, but they sure love self promotion.

bagoh20 said...

I see adds on TV for phone sex, marajuana ("buy a lid, get a gram free"), alcohol, and violent video games to kids. None of that pisses me off like the get-rich-quick infomercials. These truly pray on the ambitious who just happen to be foolish. Unlike the other above, these ads peddle lies and often hurt people and families seriously.

ironrailsironweights said...

Thankfully, there are other ways of finding Ladies of the Evening online.

Note that one site even allows for filtering of search results by the most important characteristic of all.

Peter

Dagny said...

I think the razor here is whether they "just did it" or drew attention to the fact they did it. If they just did it, I don't have much trouble accepting them as doing what they think is right. If they drew attention to it, cynical me thinks of them as playing to some constituency to gain a political point.

Cardiac Jack said...

If the attorneys general were serious about solving their perceived prostitution problem they would be using Craigslist as a source of information and going after those who place the ads while also picking up johns caught in flagrante. That would involve actual law enforcement, though, against low-level transgressors with minimal resources to be plucked. No headlines there, especially during election season.

Dead Julius said...

Also from the link:

Even though courts have said that Craigslist is protected under federal law, [Connecticut Attorney General Richard] Blumenthal said part of his mission was to rally public support to change federal law.

“Raising public awareness is extraordinarily important, because it increases support for changes in the law that will hold them accountable,” he said.


Blumenthal is upset that the boogieman he is using to scare people is gone. He's running for Senator, after all. How can he portray himself as the protector of the people if the boogieman has given up the fight?

New "Hussein" Ham said...

How can he portray himself as the protector of the people if the boogieman has given up the fight?"

The boggieman hasn't given up the fight. He's merely postponed it until after the elections ... when Mr. Bloomenthal and Marsha Brady - er, Marsha Coakley - will be jobless and powerless.

Craig has defanged the Attorney's General by removing the item of their interest until such time as this pack is out of office.

He needn't have to negotiate with them because he knows users of Craigslist will simply start advertising their wares in the "Beauty" section instead of the censored "Adult Services" section.

The internet routes around censors.

ironrailsironweights said...

Blumenthal is upset that the boogieman he is using to scare people is gone. He's running for Senator, after all. How can he portray himself as the protector of the people if the boogieman has given up the fight?

He's been a publicity hound for many years. Doesn't matter what the cause may be, anything that gets his face in front of the TV cameras is good enough. With any luck, Linda McMahon will toss his sorry posterior right out of the electoral ring in November.

Peter

David said...

Shouting Thomas: "Whoring, like drug dealing, should be keep in dark places where the kids can't see. Keeping the neighborhood on the up and up is important."

That has not worked very well with drugs. Or with whoring, for that matter,

kentuckyliz said...

Censored? By what government order? If it's a voluntary shutdown by Craigslist, it's not censorship.

Duhhhhhhhh.

KLDAVIS said...

kentuckyliz, if the government threatens to sue you if you don't do something, it's not really voluntary.

jamboree said...

Before there was craiglist, there was the LA Weekly which long ago and far away, was already only barely kept afloat by its massage ads and some old duct tape. They were not selling sex ad space to liberate humanity from judeo-christian repression, they needed the money - just like the hookers.

It's a business decision. So it is with craiglist.

traditionalguy said...

So someone needs a law to restrain their evil ways? That's par for the course for life in the big city.

junyo said...

Because prostitution didn't exist and flourish before the Internet invented it.

Within hours, sex ads on CL were migrating into the talent and help wanted sections, which was utterly predictable.