[Postings for the next few weeks may be sporadic or abbreviated.]
Law of Unintended Consequences Department
Interesting pair of takes on the Craigslist adult services ads issues. Reason.com provides its usual libertarian slant in chastising Connecticut Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal’s stance:
Conflating prostitution with slavery and child rape, Blumenthal accused Craigslist of profiting from horrendous crimes. “We recognize that craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads” if it closes the section, Blumenthal and 16 other state attorneys general wrote in an August 24 letter to the company. “No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by craigslist.”
Blumenthal ignores both the law’s role in fostering coercion and violence by driving the business underground and the protection that services like Craigslist can provide by allowing prostitutes to screen customers and avoid walking the streets. But to fully appreciate the audacity of his charge that money blinded Craigslist to the suffering of sex slaves, note that the company started charging for adult service ads in 2008 at the behest of law enforcement officials. The idea was that fees would thin the section, while requiring a credit card and a valid phone number would deter criminal activity.
The article goes on to make the precise point I made myself recently: Craigslist is under no legal obligation to screen ads, but in fact evidence is that the advertisers are simply migrating to other, less fastidious outlets.
Meanwhile, Slate.com tells us that the Craigslist decision, accompanied by a staunch refusal to provide any reasons why the adult ads section is now “censored,” is Craigslist’s way of telling the states’ attorneys general to “put up or shut up”:
For some time, Craigslist has urged its critics to focus on other companies that do less to screen ads for sexual abuse. It claimed that if its sex-ad business were shut down, buyers and sellers would relocate to these outlets. That argument failed to sway the critics. So Craigslist is forcing the issue. It’s exposing where the ads will go once “adult services” is closed. And by getting out of the way, it’s challenging human-trafficking activists and state attorneys general to shift their scrutiny to other sites that host such ads.
Seems that now that the bear is out of sight, the critics may just ignore that it is crapping in the buck brush.
God Love Those God-Fearing Politicians Department
You may recall my enthusiastic review awhile back of Jeff Sharlet’s book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Now The New Yorker provides us an update on “The Fellowship,” sort of a Cliff’s Notes version of the book. Recommended as an introduction, or for those already familiar with the group a refresher on how this loosely structured organization, through its tight and privacy-obsessed membership, at the very least influences (and some might say controls) any number of our prominent politicians.
Scary stuff, and if you didn’t purchase The Family, you should at least read this.
Scariest Quote I’ve Read in Years Department
“We’ve been doing random searches for years,” said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole. “None have been in response to particular threats. It’s more to show force.”
“To show force”? An intrusive, Fourth Amendment-questionable extensive in-public search of the populace “more to show force”?
Imagine you are a commuter. You walk into your local subway station and are confronted with a “random” but pretty widely pervasive bag search. Does anyone think there might be a Fourth Amendment problem here? According to the article in CourierPostOnline.com, at least one person was actually arrested, not for terrorism associated materials found, but because of a crack pipe (which presumably led to the guy having to identify himself, which then led to discovery of an outstanding warrant).
[T]here are more commuter searches to come. The unit plans to conduct searches several times monthly — without advance notice — at various … stations.
From an unpublished session.