Undermining the Internet

There are so many threats to the commercial Internet as it emerged in the late 1990s that I could make that subject the sole source of articles here and never run out of ammo.

But specifically, right now, I want to shine a bright light on the developments surrounding everyone’s favorite online flea market and flagrant prostitution ring, Craigslist.

What’s that you say?  Craigslist isn’t about prostitution?  Well, of course it isn’t, but South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster hasn’t received the memo.  He’s decided that Craigslist has not done enough to weed the sex-for-pay ads out of its Personals section and filed a lawsuit against them (he’s not the only one, either).

Craigslist fired back with a countersuit and requested an injunction barring South Carolina from prosecuting its case.  A state judge agreed, and as of now the state’s suit is on hold.

I’m concerned about a couple of things.  First, Mr. McMaster’s poor statistics skills.  Craigslist cites an 80 percent reduction in prostitution-oriented ads since November 2008, a figure well into the realm of significance, due to the measures taken thus far.  For the attorney general to assert that has not been enough borders on the incredible.  Second, Craigslist has declared that if South Carolina is ultimately successful in their pursuit, the site will excise the state from its union.

I’m not sure the attorney general recognizes the dangerous precedent he risks setting if that circumstance plays out.  This really isn’t just an online garage sale we’re talking about– if Craigslist can be fragmented on a state-by-state basis, then so can other major service and content providers.  Suddenly this relatively new virtual milieu, established by federal governance, can be attacked in piecemeal fashion by zealous state officials who take issue with some aspect or element that perhaps other states may tolerate or choose to ignore.

I’m half hoping that this issue makes it to the Supreme Court by some legal vehicle and is properly decided at that level.  But then again, that’s the same body who gave us a bastardized, Bizarro World extension of imminent domain, so maybe it’s better if the issue just dies in sunny South Carolina…


7 responses to “Undermining the Internet

  1. Fire this asshole, there isn’t more pressing issues relating to crime than craigslist ads? Do your job and quit being a useless member of society. This makes people not want to have South Carolina a State of the Union, moron.

  2. South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster is just another slimeball politician who has no problem ignoring the Constitution if it will help him get elected. The only criminal here is McMaster. He probably sees prostitutes when he can get away with it like “client number 9.”

  3. If McMaster actually wanted to do something about the problem, he would use the Craigslist ads to find and prosecute the prostitutes in South Carolina.

    Shutting down Craigslist does nothing except make it harder for law enforcement to find the offenders.

  4. South Carolina and the rest of the south are still living in the 1850’s when they think what they say goes. They seem to make being stupid an art form. These are people whose education system is the lowest in the nation, the rest of the nation laughs at its stupidity and ignorance and the South thinks it is a prize–from the beginning of our nation, they have been ignorant and have been proud of this ignorance. I also hope this goes to the Supreme Court and they get taught a lesson or two in politics, the law and the Constitution. Maybe in the South we should require an entrance exam to any political office, from the attorney general to the lowly police chief.

    • seadog, those are some mighty bigoted assertions to be tossing around, and on a Texan’s blog, no less.

      Tex, I’m sure you know it, but we Yankees aren’t all dumb and/or trolling like that, and most don’t take kindly to those who are.

      • Sorry Benson– I realize his comments were confrontational but figured he was just blowing off steam and chose the option of letting it go rather than getting entangled in a micro civil war…

  5. Thanks for commenting all.

    Doug504 you raise an excellent point. I don’t necessarily agree with the laws against prostitution, but since we’re stuck with them, why wouldn’t law enforcement take advantage of such a publicized means of identifying people engaging in it?

    I don’t believe those prosecuting Craigslist have thought this all the way through.

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