Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Craigslist Censored: Adult Section Comes Down (techcrunch.com)
78 points by jswinghammer on Sept 4, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments

I hear quite often that prostitution would be a wonderfully pleasant industry if it were only legal, which does not square with the experiences of countries where it is legal or tolerated.

You pretty much have to be running schoolgirls out of homeroom to get the Nagoya police to so much as glance in your direction, but Japanese prostitution is a very, very ugly place to be, and much of it is based on trafficking. I live two hundred feet from a "Korean aesthetic salon" which is open at three A.M. in the morning. One of the not-so-young ladies who works there has taken to sleeping on the bus bench across the street recently, in heat which has nearly sent me to the hospital twice. You may have heard that Japan has a storied relationship with its Korean immigrants. Those who do -- to use a nauseating euphemism -- the jobs Japanese girls won't do can expect neglect from polite society, because polite society knows that inquiring into her circumstances means they have to know what goes on in those walls, and they are very interested in keeping up the fiction that they do not know what goes on in those walls.

Or take the European experience. Amsterdam, city of lights, so much more sophisticated than the American puritans, perfectly legal thriving sex trade, right? It has been taken over by Russian mafia who are undercutting the locals via use of trafficked girls from Eastern Europe. You always have the option as a merchant of sex slaves to one-up what the "morally upright prostitutes" allow, safe in the knowledge that they will cover for you because an investigation into what you are doing harms their business interests. Society, meanwhile, has no great desire to actually police what happens inside of brothels, preferring to believe its sanity-saving fictions like "she wants to be there", "it is just sex between two consenting adults", and "no slaves live on my block."


Prostitution, legal or otherwise, is not pretty. It is based, root and branch, on exploitation. To the extent you think that legalizing it will end the exploitation, you believe something which is contrary to reality.

I'm confused here - according to Wikipedia, (coital) prostitution is illegal in Japan.


As you say, it takes a lot for the police to get involved - I'll speculate that they only pay attention when the monthly envelope of cash is light.

That isn't the model pushed by most advocates of legal prostitution that I've heard - most want prostitution to be legal in the same way that restaurants are. It actually takes very little to get the authorities to come take a look at your restaurant - complaints of a roach or the computer randomly selecting you for an inspection are usually sufficient.

> I'm confused here - according to Wikipedia, (coital) prostitution is illegal in Japan.

And so is gambling, yet you'll find plenty of pachinko parlours or soaplands/"health salons" announced very explicitly. I believe the main reason is that many of these places are run by Yakuza (organized crime), and police would rather not stir up the hornet's nest - there's a sort of tacit agreement.

You've missed the point. The original premise from patio11 was that legalizing prostitution doesn't automatically make it all safe, aboveboard, and free from crime. Then he used Japan as an example... except that prostitution isn't legal there. Regardless of how it's treated by the police, the point is that it's not legal, and that skews how the illegal operations work.

(Regardless, my feeling is that Japan's attitude toward sexuality is so different from that of Europe/the Americas that it's a little hard to make good comparisons anyway.)

The Amsterdam argument is interesting and worthy of further discussion, at least.

A lot of places where prostitution is legal, pimping is not, e.g., Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. There's less of a trafficking problem in those places, since it can and does get prosecuted (though there still are problems, since here sadly is demand for underage prostitutes etc.)

In the Netherlands, pimping is legal though, which may contribute specifically to the problems they are seeing. I'm not the only one who thinks so:


I don't think the ban ever happened though.

Why do you lump prostitution with sex trafficking? Why do we have to make both legal? Just make sex with two consenting adults legal...and use all those cops who are stuck busting hookers...investigating complaints about sex traffickers.

Prostitution ranges essentially from crack addict street walkers up to 'chat' call girls who are frequently educated enough to maintain conversation with wealthy businessmen.

It's exceptionally naive to think the Russian mob is going to start trafficking in university graduate hookers.

What needs to be done is establish an agency to govern and regulate the sex trades, including the money handling. You want to be a prostitute? Sure, but you'll need to sign a waiver allowing us to monitor where your money is going; 'oh you're spending it on groceries, rent and something at bestbuy' vs 'oh you're spending it on groceries, rent and oh look you just transferred $2,000 to an offshore bank account'.

You want to be a customer? Sure, pay the agency a certified check, by credit/debit card (something with a paper trail) taxes are immediately taken off and the money is transferred in whole (less taxes) to the worker.

There's reason to legalize prostitution without even getting onto the matter of the ethics of allowing a woman to have sex for money. Namely that legalization of prostitution is expected to lower the rape rate significantly (IIRC by ~25% in the US), would help decrease the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and most of all, would help prevent the murders and serial killings of women.

Criminalization allows for corruption. Why does organized crime still manage to rear its ugly head in government? Well, perhaps because criminal gangs are orchestrating prostitution through pimping rings and only have to get one picture of an official with a hooker to ruin a man's career when 1/2 their voters are puritanical, evangelical morons.

maybe we should make your boss pay you through an agency, that will keep most of your money. It should be each women's right to conduct her work in private,, with her ouwn guidelines that she is comfortable with. You already have us with a agency in your exampe which means we could not be independents. I am sure most of my clients would not come to visit if I where in some shady agency or spa with someone counting the money. We are not cattel and we do not need anyone to monitor us, if you look at our orginal prostituion laws they where only created to stop a women from showing her wares in pubic. Nobody is trying to montor how you have sex or with who. Your example is making the government the pimps and then they would be the ones exploiting people. Why do you think sex workers are so dumb they need to be regulated, we are not all addicts and most of us our middle aged sigle moms. Many of us are supporting our whole famiies because our husbands have been laid off, and we have lost our homes in foreclosure, we are soccor moms, yor neighbors,, we could very well be your mother, sister, aunt, cousin or child. We only want to be decriminalized and have the same protection under the law. We want to stop being the vicitms of the worst HATE CRIME OF ALL. Hate just for being a sex worker.

Okay, be naive and don't even read my comment. Nowhere is going to legalize the sex trades when it goes hand in hand with organized crime.

I know here in Ontario many apartment buildings can actively discriminate against sex workers, drug dealers or anyone working illegally and they can do it quite simply: rent isn't accepted in cash. If you're getting paid in cash, you're not paying taxes and if the government catches a paper trail then you'll be in jail and they'll investigate every iota of your life.

Or, like I suggested, the government performs the actions any employer does: pay your income taxes, pay your Employment Insurance, pay your Pension; pay the rest to you. If you don't want to accept the government taking the money that by law they are entitled to through you earning a living, then you will always be illegal.

Either be realistic or stay illegal and naive. Governments will not allow a business that has been hand-in-hand with organized crime to simply go legal and allow the mob their easiest opportunity to money-launder in existence.

If you don't believe your transactions aren't already being monitored, you obviously don't have a bank account. I've seen people's accounts locked for buying a laptop, putting in a check, taking out $200. My UK card got locked when I first used it in Canada. I don't get why you'd be adverse to the government checking to make sure you're not depositing large sums into foreign bank accounts when your own bank already checks every detail of your spending to ensure it doesn't break pattern.

I'm sorry if you took offence by what I said, but I really don't give a damn if you're too naive to see the real world. You honestly sound like every whining moron who doesn't want the government taking their income tax.

Here at HN we like to discuss things. You add nothing to this discussion but the tired old dogma of the victim. You provide no justification of why the government shouldn't be taking the taxes they're entitled too, you provide nothing.

Don't paint every country with the same brush. In Australia it's legal and regulated. Sure, there are dodgy brothels (usually the asian ones) but the normal ones are mostly college girls who are earning a bunch of extra cash.

Sure, there are dodgy brothels

There are "dodgy" brothels like the American South had "dodgy" cotton plantations in the 19th century.

the normal ones are mostly college girls who are earning a bunch of extra cash

This is a myth which society uses to let it sleep at night about them. (The same myth is widely held about strippers in the United States, and is equally false there.) Prostitution, nice clean business, step up into a middle class existence. Social science research on the demographics of prostitutes, in Australia and elsewhere, is legion. Only about a quarter of brother prostitutes either have a degree or are enrolled in college. (see: "Sex work and sex workers in Australia")

You can find more numbers at your leisure. A good source of pointers is Wiki


Among many other depressing statistics:


After 10 years of legal brothels in Queensland, 90 per cent of prostitution here remains either unregulated or illegal, University of Queensland research shows.

You keep quoting numbers, but you never talk about why those numbers exist.

In Queensland, the reason that number is so high is because the government has made it very hard and very expensive for brothels to go legal, and the majority that do go broke. It is more profitable to run an illegal one, than it is to operate a legal one. So though you are statistically correct, your reasoning is not.

Additionally, your own myth about strippers is demonstrably false. I know this because I used to be married to one and was involved in that scene on a personal level for many, many years. Here in NYC, some girls pull six figures. My ex-wife did. At one point she was making more than I was. While prostitution of some variety does exist in the legal strip clubs in NYC, it still was a relatively small number of women. Most of the girls that I've met and interacted with, which probably numbers in the 100's, fell into four broad categories: college students, party girls, single mothers and poorly educated immigrants. I would call none of them victims, nor would I ever call them exploited. Most of them are very shrewd, very business minded and are capitalizing on the only resources really afforded to them given their individual situations. In fact, the only sadness I feel about the entire thing is for the lonely men lining up to swallow whole the illusion that within the walls of these places they are wanted, sexually attractive, etc. It is pretty depressing to watch.

You can't extrapolate from the experience of high-end strippers in places like NYC, Vegas, or Miami. That's like hanging out in major league stadiums and concluding that pro baseball players must love their millions, ignoring that the majority are stuck down in the farm system barely making a living wage.

That's a pretty ridiculous analogy. Strippers don't have to toil in a minor league strip club in Idaho for five years before finally "making it" to NYC. All it takes is a bus ticket and a lot of balls (figuratively)

It's not ridiculous at all. You really think there's not a hierarchy of strip clubs, that the top clubs don't compete for the best strippers, and that every girl who wanted could just buy a bus ticket and end up making six figures stripping in NYC?

The simple point is that the vast majority of strippers don't and can't work in the top clubs in NY, Vegas, and Miami, and don't make anything like the kind of money that's made in those places.

The strip clubs don't compete, not here in NYC. You have to audition. They pick you.

The business behind it is actually kind of interesting. The girl will audition, they get accepted and then they pay a house fee (usually around $100) to work there. Sundays are typically house fee free. Everything else is based on tips and the girls have to tip everyone: bouncers, house moms, makeup (if they don't do their own).

And it's really a scaling issue. I'm guessing (and I'm just guessing) that the median income for a stripper in a particular area is directly related to the median income for that area.

Also, a lot of girls travel to work, between NYC, Vegas and Los Angeles. Also, Miami is pretty big.

You don't need to be a super model to work at the "top flight" clubs in NYC either. I have photographic evidence of that. You do need to have some hustle to make a lot of money though, and a casual disdain for men doesn't hurt either.

I would most certainly NOT recommend it as a career for people. I think it has the capability of ruining healthy sexual attitudes in people. It certainly made my relationship much harder.

That being said, a lot of these girls have very few options that provide the sort of income and lifestyle flexibility that stripping offers. My ex-wife supported her entire family with it. Could she have done something else? Maybe, but she didn't finish high school and her family required her support. What career can someone in her situation take on that offers 90K+ for 4 days work without a high school diploma?

It's really interesting too because the entire perception of stripping is so culturally rooted. Where she is from (Japan) it's no big deal. It's another job, like being a hostess girl. Not something you wear on your sleeve, but not something you necessarily are ashamed of. Of course, being American, nobody in my family knows or knew - that would have been a disaster.

The strip clubs don't compete, not here in NYC.

Of course they do. A given girl can only be at one club at any given time - how does she pick which one she's going to be at? She takes into consideration how much money she can make, how well the club treats her, what kind of crowd the club draws, whatever. If you're a club owner, you want the best girls to want to be at your club, and not at the club down the street. That's competition.

You have to audition. They pick you.

The flip side being that some girls won't get picked, and will have to move on until they find a club that will take them.

I'm not criticizing strippers or trying to imply that there's something shameful in stripping. I'm simply pointing out that not all strippers make 6 figures in top-tier clubs in major cities, and that you can't assume that the experiences of the ones who do are the same as those of the vast majority who don't.

> Only about a quarter of brother prostitutes either have a degree or are enrolled in college

Yeah, and that's about the same proportion as the general population who have a college degree.


(I don't know how long that link will work. It's "6227.0 - Education and Work, Australia, May 2008"), page 4 "more than one in five (22%) had a highest level of attainment of Bachelor Degree or above"

This is a myth which society uses to let it sleep at night about them.

Perhaps, though one might say that about a lot of things. On the other hand, places with strictly enforced prohibition still manage to have sordid redlight districts, no matter how aggressively they criminalize women who ply this trade.

I'm not convinced you can coerce people into being good, especially in a trade that caters to such fundamental biological drives. The strictest places I can think of as far as personal morals are concerned are countries like Saudi Arabia, whose 'solution' to the exploitation of women is apparently to drape them with black fabric and severely restrict their autonomy...and which still has a significant human trafficking problem.

You should probably add the row Diploma to the Degree row since in Australia it is very common to get a trade certification rather than attend a typical 4 year school, where most Americans would get a Bachelor's degree for something like communications Aussies will do a shorter certification. If you do that, the totals for brothel workers and private (callgirl) prostitutes are not that bad at all.

The main problem is enforcement though, the illegal brothels are the ones that cause problems. Making the industry illegal would just put more women at risk as it would remove regulation and oversight. There's not a country in the world where you can't find a prostitute, despite it being illegal in most places.

It may not be pretty, but neither is working in a mine or fishing. At least the death rate is lower.

And Craigslist prostitution is much, much prettier than street prostitution, high profile murder cases aside.


Compare: "The workplace homicide rate for prostitutes (204 per 100,000) is many times higher than that for women and men in the standard occupations that had the highest workplace homicide rates in the United States during the 1980s (4 per 100,000 for female liquor store workers and 29 per 100,000 for male taxicab drivers)." [0]



And 204 per 100,000 encompasses only fatalities due to homicides - not counting other health risks (drugs, disease, etc.)

[0] http://hoydenabouttown.com/20080407.1544/prostitution-regula...

Prostitution is not legal in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

First line of the paper you cited:

"Female prostitution is embedded in a context of felonious activity, illicit drugs, and violence."

Also from the paper:

"Deaths from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome occurred exclusively among prostitutes who admitted to injecting drug use or were inferred to have a history of it."

To be fair, you would have to compare to what happens if it were not legalized under similar conditions in the case of Japan, but I agree with you that the cases where prostitution is legal does not pave well for extending it in general if you care at all about the prostitutes condition (the same is also true for drugs, where many liberalization have totally failed).

I think the Japan situation is a bit particular, though - the Japanese society seems rather tolerant on extreme commercialization of sex in a way that is difficult to comprehend (and I am far from eeither puritan or American).

Would unionisation or regulatory organisations help?

[edit: another thought - I can imagination a few decades ago someone arguing similarly against US casinos. They were generally run by crooks. Now they're run by corporations. Not that I think that makes casinos any more ethical than they were before, but they are crime-free.]

Read the quotes from the union rep in that article. You tell me.

Priority one will be keeping it legal. Any bad press is aid to folks like me. There won't be any bad press, because there are no sex slaves in our industry, just like there are no incompetent teachers at public schools.

Casinos are billion+ dollar investments where regulation helps the client and being able to legitimately raise huge sums of capital lets you crush the mob. After decriminalization you can play in a seedy backroom with an unknown rake or you can have a business conference on the corporate nickle in a five star hotel where the rake is established as a matter of law. Customer preference wins.

Regulation in prostitution tells client that they can't do what they are willing to pay to do, and it is not capitally intensive and does not reward megascale. After decriminalization you can have the sex that they allow you to have or the sex that you want to have. Customer preference wins.

I read the article but didn't find compelling arguments to say that better oversight and regulation wouldn't reduce criminality. The question of whether widespread legal prostitution is good for a society is different to the matter of making it crime and exploitation-free. I don't have an answer to that ethical question so I wouldn't want to end up arguing that particular angle with you. It's just that the claim that it is inherently impossible to regulate effectively is quite a major one and perhaps people haven't tried hard enough, perhaps as a result of prejudices many of us share.

Related to this subject, people might find _Tokyo Vice_ interesting/disturbing:


It's by a reporter who worked the vice beat in Japan for years.

Amsterdam allows pimps (I believe someone mentioned this below) which contributes directly to their particular woes.

Prostitution is illegal in Japan.

It's not really a question if legalizing it will end exploitation, it's a question of legalizing activity between two consenting parties, and with it being legal, better affording protection from exploitation. In other words, licensed and regulated prostitution is a better tool to fight human trafficking and exploitation than keeping it illegal.

It's true the legalization of prostitution hasn't solved the problem of human trafficking in the Netherlands. The hope once was that legal prostitutes would lower demand for illegal ones, just like legal marijuana has all obliterated the demand for the illegal stuff. That hasn't worked but the legal prostitutes are still a good deal better off then when they were outside the law and nobody is considering making it illegal again.

> You always have the option as a merchant of sex slaves to one-up what the "morally upright prostitutes" allow, safe in the knowledge that they will cover for you because an investigation into what you are doing harms their business interests

Out of curiosity, why would they cover for you? Isnt it in their best interests to not allow sub-legal tactics to ruin their income?

It's capitalism - not prostitution - that is based, root and branch, on exploitation.

Completely agreed. Why would there be either an elimination or explosion of either sex-trafficing or child sex exploitation if prostitution is brought into the fold of legitimate commerce? Sewing shirts is legal, yet we still have sweatshops in America full of immigrants with limited communication skills and limited options forced into labor with illegally low compensation and dangerous working conditions. The more secure and more knowledgeable will always be in a position to exploit the less secure and the less knowledgeable. This is the basic operation of capitalism.

I think the question is do we ban manufacturing or agriculture because of the exploitation rife in both industries? Or do we set minimum standards as a society for the treatment and compensation of labor and the ability of minors to consent to labor, and treat violations of those standards as criminal behavior to be punished? Why is sex so special that we can't find a standard to apply?

I bet most of the people freaking out about CL's adult services haven't considered that censorship usually leads to an increased demand. They're doing an excellent job advertising to the world that you can easily buy sex online. If they really wanted to help people they'd be advocating a safe highly regulated adult services industry that satisfies the demand while eliminating most of the ugly side effects of prohibition. They completely reject this idea so it seems obvious to me their agenda is more about moral pontificating than helping people or they truly have no understanding of how the real world works.

The Cook County (Chicago) Sheriff, Tom Dart, has been leading the charge on this. The Tribune had an article a few days ago about him increasing prostitution busts, and putting up ads around O'Hare warning johns to stay away.

With all this moral outrage coming out of him about prostitution, I'm expecting that he'll soon be arrested in a prostitution bust.

Anti-prostitution groups always drag out trafficking as a reason to be against prostitution, and also child prostitution. But being a prostitute or being a john are both misdemeanor offences, whereas trafficking and sexual child abuse are both very serious felony charges. It seems to me that anti-trafficking and child sexual abuse laws are a lot more effective in dealing with those problems than general anti-prostitution laws are.

The argument about trafficking really rings hollow. These busts mostly target the prostitutes. If they really wanted to find trafficking victims, they'd get a lot better luck approaching women not in the context of arresting them, and asking them about their situation. Throwing women against the police car and slapping handcuffs on them seems counterproductive if your goal is to limit trafficking. If anything, it reinforces everything the traffickers tell the women about the police, making them less likely to cooperate.

If a women is not a victim of sex slavery or underage, it seems absurd that she could be charged with a crime for selling something she can legally give away for free.

From the perspective of the police force, prostitution being illegal is 1% moral uptightness, and 99% pragmatism. Having prostitution be a misdemeanor helps catch people in the act of other, more serious crimes, as the "crime" of prostitution justifies search warrants to otherwise-unassailable places. It's a workaround for a permissions issue, basically, and has no ethical justification.

>It's a workaround for a permissions issue, basically, and has no ethical justification.

I think you mean no ethical justification that you agree with.

For example, take as an axiom "sex should only be allowed between partners in long term monandrous relationships" and it follows logically from there.

This is an ethical justification. You just apparently disagree with the premise. Most theistic ethical systems have something akin to this as a rule (whether derived or axiomatic within the system).

If you're starting with complex axioms like

> "sex should only be allowed between partners in long term monandrous relationships"

then what you've got is a moral justification, not an ethical one.

I've only dabbled in moral philosophy (the study of ethics!) but my understanding is that the more common use amongst professional philosophers is that ethics relates to a system established usually by a particular group, like a legal code or religious doctrine whilst morals concern an individuals actions. Morality then is considered to concern a naturally occurring right whilst ethics concerns a constructed set of rules (often based on or intended to enforce particular morals).

The terms in common parlance are used interchangeably and unfortunately even those (possibly novices) working in the art use the terms in a contrary way - http://www.philosophyblog.com.au/ethics-vs-morality-the-dist... highlights the mess very well.

Perhaps you could enlarge on your objection, is it merely semantic or does it have a substantial element too?

Don't those other serious crimes generally stem from prohibition too? If you're running girls you might as well sell drugs too. Illegal gambling? Now you need guns to protect yourself because you can't call the police and report that your prostitute just stole $20k worth of cocaine from you. It's such a vicious cycle.

From what a policeman friend of mine told me, the busts they spend all their time on have the reverse of that story: a local gang/mob forms, and then, since they're already assaulting and murdering to keep their place in the criminal underbelly of the city, and since they know their shit well enough to be getting away with it, they can run as many side-businesses as they like doing other, lesser illegal deeds, because they've already ensured their protection. This is pride before a fall, because these lesser crimes—especially if they involve non-group others, like prostitutes or drug mules—can be the cracks in the dam that allow the police to nab them.

> If a women is not a victim of sex slavery or underage, it seems absurd that she could be charged with a crime for selling something she can legally give away for free.

Agreed. Especially because I think arguably many woman who are not technically prostitutes do give sex in exchange for money, gifts or other material things. There may not be a difference in kind but in degree. (This holds for men too, in other areas, I think.)

I agree 100% - in the unregulated environment, the real evils of sex-traffiking and prostitution of minors exist side-by-side with quasi-legal adult prostitution.

Properly regulated brothels don't have traffiked workers or minors, do have STD testing and are safer for the workers and the johns. As with drugs, many of the problems are created by prohibition, and those who insist on prohibition are responsible for the continuance of those problems.

Interestingly, the one area where prohibition works very well is prohibition on firearms, but this is not a popular prohibition in the US.

Mexico has fairly broad prohibitions on private ownership of firearms. Mexico has a fairly high rate of firearms being used for antisocial behavior. Switzerland, on the other hand mandates that a significant portion of its population keep assault rifles and ammunition at home. Switzerland has a fairly low rate of firearms being used for antisocial behavior.

It seems to me that prohibition of firearms has fairly little direct effect on firearm-related crime. There may be other differences between Mexico and Switzerland worth considering as explanations for the difference in crime rates, and it seems likely that similar factors might better exp.lain crime rates in other countries.

Do you have evidence for this?

(Note: I'm looking for something a bit stronger than "Country X has gun prohibition, a different social structure, different demographics and different laws, and has lower homicide rate than Country Y which does not have gun prohibition.")


Countries that have prohibitions on firearms have fewer firearms. It's a huge difference in the numbers and that's an example of prohibition working.

I don't know that countries that have prohibitions on drugs reduce drug taking by the same amount, or countries with prohibitions on prostitution reduces prostitution by a similar amount.

Mexico is an outlier because of its large porous border with the US. Switzerland is just an outlier.

> Countries that have prohibitions on firearms have fewer firearms. It's a huge difference in the numbers and that's an example of prohibition working.

Who cares? You're working from a premise that having fewer firearms is a good thing. I'm not going to say I disagree, but I'm not sure I agree either.

The real metric is whether or not firearm-related crimes are significantly reduced in countries where there are prohibitions on firearms.

There's also the question of whether firearm use matters in some crimes. Take these two scenarios:

1. Burglar commits armed (firearms) robbery of a house. Owners of the house are suitably frightened but give in to the burglars. Stuff is stolen but no one gets hurt.

2. Burglar commits armed (knives) robbery of a house. Owners of the house are suitably frightened but give in to the burglars. Stuff is stolen but no one gets hurt.

They are essentially the same crime, but now #2 is not lumped in with the "firarms-related crime" group.

And let's try keeping #1 as it is, but now #2 is this:

2'. Burglar commits armed (knives) robbery of a house. Owners of the house think a knife isn't too scary and fight back. One owner gets stabbed and dies.

I don't know about the frequency of stuff like this, but it's certainly not a quick "look at the numbers" thing to decide which is better.

The real metric is whether or not firearm-related crimes are significantly reduced in countries where there are prohibitions on firearms.

No, the real metric is whether or not firearms cause a net increase in the amount/severity of crimes - firearm crimes are not the only relevant ones.

There are all sorts of factors which make it a tricky question. Deterrence (burglar is afraid to rob a house, since homeowners might shoot him) is a fairly big effect. Substitution (criminal 1 wants to kill criminal 2, since no guns are around he uses a knife) are some of the biggies. If criminals stab 20 people instead of shooting 15, that's not a good thing.

No, the real metric is whether or not firearms cause a net increase in the amount/severity of crimes - firearm crimes are not the only relevant ones.

How can you draw causal relationships there? At best I'd think you'd be able to make correlative arguments, but not much more.

The real metric is whether or not firearm-related crimes are significantly reduced in countries where there are prohibitions on firearms.


Contrast US with UK and Ireland.

Actually, I think US cultural exports are a large factor in the increase of gun crime in the UK and Ireland, a certain glorification of the weapon that gang members feel they need to live up to.

North Dakota in 2008 had 2 murders (both by stabbing) and has a pretty high percentage of the population owning guns. People who look at the "how" in political matter instead of the "why" really bug me and do not serve society well. People who want to kill others will find a means.

// I have a cousin who would not be alive today if he didn't have a gun in his youth (damn city people dropping off dogs after they are no longer cute)

In this case, censorship does not lead to increased demand. In prostitution, demand is fairly constant, and supply is what is usually affected by legalization. Legalization tends to increase supply (women willing to engage in prostitution), which has the effect of increasing the number of prostitutes, making their jobs safer, and lowering prices (there is an risk premium embedded in prostitute pricing in countries where prostitution is illegal).

It's much easier to shoot the messenger than solve the problem. It's all posturing.

They can demand all they want. They just can't get it from CL now.

It's both, they have no understanding how the real world works, and so they think they are doing everyone a favor with their agenda. And they have neither the desire nor the ability to change.

I never thought TC would ever come up with a quote worth, uh, quoting, but pigs are in flight today!

If it’s just a sex crime it isn’t a story. But if a listing on Craigslist was involved, it’s a big story.

Painfully true.

It's all bullshit as well, this "OMG Sex crimes" nonsense. We investigate sex crimes (i.e. rape, abuse, murder etc.) caused by the internet - literally none of them (and I am well above 60 investigations in that area now) have anything to do with personal ads such as the ones censored here.

I might be out on a limb here because a) this is based on only a small amount of empirical evidence and b) I've not talked to colleagues to get their take on it, but, most of the internet derived sex crime comes from the "under the radar" sleazy dating sites or, more likely, simply someone they managed to get on MSN.

These people prey on those looking for a boyfriend, not someone looking to sell sex. Prostitutes are, for the most part, not stupid - they know when to take a deal or walk away.

I can't help feeling crusades such as this are actually harmful. </rant>

I can't understand the motivations for this.

Several state attorney generals find out there is are people going to a web site, and for all intents and purposes advertising they are going to commit criminal acts. The public is outraged.

A rational person whose job is to enforce the law at this point would be dancing in happy circles, because the criminals are not only advertising their crimes, they're doing it in a single, easily searchable location. This makes his job much easier than it was before.

So what does this person do in order to score political points with the outraged public? Arrest all these people in sting operations? No. He gets the site shut down. Out of sight, out of mind. And the public is happy about that.

For the life of me I can't understand why people do the things they do and feel justified about it. Prostitution is either so bad that it should be illegal and those laws enforced, or it shouldn't be illegal at all because all that does is create problems. There is no middle ground here.

no, its just located here now: http://newyork.craigslist.org/thp/

In case you're wondering: this only affects Craigslist users in the U.S. It's fine here in Canada, for example.

I am struggling with the notion of a country that will defend to the death the rights of its citizens to purchase guns and use hateful speech, but simultaneously attack sex with such fundamentalist zeal. I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance.

The country defends the right to speech, whether you are hateful with it or not is your choice. The country defends the right of guns to remind the government that the population is armed and willing to stand up to oppressive regimes. Proliferation of sex outside of the family unit, destroys the family unit. Seems straight forward to me.

You are simply repeating what I said. Of course I understand that you do not allow the govt. to pass laws restricting speech, and of course you allow and even celebrate hateful speech. And yes, you dearly cherish the quaint notion of an armed rebellion: That's how you were founded.

But nothing you have said explains why your laws celebrate freedom for the first two cases: You trust citizens with the right to speak and the right to manage their own deadly weapons, but in the third case you are suddenly "You can't be trusted to make your own choices."

Thus, I find your answer is a non-answer, because it does not explain the dichotomy. Furthermore, your third point confuses me. Are you saying that it is an American value to avoid sex before or outside of a marriage conducted for the purpose of raising children?

Why does the government care about defending "the family unit?" That's not its job.

Part of the US government's stated purpose is to "promote the general welfare" of its people. The real questions are these:

1. What social effects does the proliferation of extramarital sex have? (I don't buy the flat assertion that it "destroys the family unit" -- and I know some polyamorists who would be downright incensed by that claim -- but it's got to have some effects. Let's see what they are.)

2. Are those social effects good, bad, or some mixture? To what extent, and for whom?

3. If there turn out to be bad effects, are they sufficiently bad that some form of government intervention would be worthwhile? If so, what's the least heavy-handed way to intervene that stands a good chance of working?

I mean this in the nicest way possible, but that you think these are, in fact, the real questions reflects a peculiar understanding of secular, Western jurisprudence and the (theoretically) liberal Anglo-American and European intellectual heritage from which it arises, or one that is dangerously at odds with the lessons taught by that heritage.

First, prostitution and extramarital sex are not logically related, per se. Yes, plenty of married men purchase the services of prostitutes, but that has never a reason for which the criminalisation of prostitution has been contemplated here. Married men also do plenty of other things at odds with the ideals of a happy, honest and open marriage. Plenty of divorced men and bachelors visit prostitutes. Even if they didn't, the essence of the criminality of prostitution does not lie in the peripheral aspects of the clientele's personal life or social position. It arguably leads to "worse" policymaking outcomes for politicians to sleep with DC escorts, but the reason why it is illegal is not _because_ they are politicians. It's just illegal in general. It may be officially censurable within the legislative profession for that reason (an arrangement involving a particular code of conduct into which the politician entered voluntarily), but not in background law.

Our entire system of judicial thought is reliant on the idea that the state identifies and prosecutes things that are logically related in ways articulated by the applicable statute, and that the evidentiary relationship between the alleged crime and the statute on which the allegation is based is a fairly deductive one. To the extent that it actually functions (another discussion for another day), it would very quickly break down if prosecutorial "inferential" leaps or "strong inductive" claims based on certain statistical generalisations without definitive proof or direct connection were permitted to be made. The reason we prosecute driving while intoxicated is not because the driver is some shade of likely to be an alcoholic, and therefore a mean-spirited jerk (because he's drunk) that offends his family or roommates, thereby detracting from the overall common happiness and public welfare.

The presumption of innocence absent proof of guilt, and the concept of probable cause are both intimately related to this; this is why it is unreasonable, as a matter de jure, to say that a Craigslist ad with an image of a scantily clad woman and a phone number and reference to a "good time" represents an offer of prostitution unless it contains an explicit quid pro quo offer of sex for money. The fact that it is quite likely as a statistical matter should not enter into the picture if we are interested in conserving our liberal legal principles, to the extent that we have them as yet. We don't arrest people who look like the sort of people that deal drugs without establishing conclusively that they have actually done so, and we don't, generally, arrest women on the street who are "probably" street walkers unless they can be witnessed to be making offers of prostitution per se, or, more likely, gotten on some other technicality of ordinance (loitering, accosting pedestrians, etc.). Walking around in a skimpy outfit and looking attentive to passing cars is not in itself illegal based on what you might be up to if you're doing that.

Second, our legal and democratic heritage does not admit the possibility that government is qualified to determine or administer the vagaries of personal life. The idea that the government is going to formulate--and mandate, and enforce!--an idea of a "good" marriage, which presumptively forbids X or Y, is rather abhorrent when considered against the backdrop of centuries of common law and democratic development. The government can grant a divorce petition, dissolving a marriage license that it itself issued, not make you have a good marriage. Furthermore, as you rightly point out, there is at least one identifiable constituency of married people whose concept of marriage explicitly accepts what others might deem "extramarital" sex. These social mores are always a moving goalpost, especially in a more globally connected, flatter world of more numerous subcultures. Trying to take one account of virtue or the good life and promote it to universal institutional imposition through coercive force is a woefully misguided endeavour philosophically and a doomed endeavour practically.

Third: Historically and jurisprudentially, the notion underlying the phraseology, the formulation of "promote the general welfare" is quite different from the one that you have ascribed to it. In principle, the mission to promote the general welfare has principally to do with protecting citizens from foreign invasion and otherwise defending the territorial and political integrity of the country, regulating things that can lead to loss of life or limb, and, more recently, mitigating possible sources of financial peril stemming from legal misrepresentation and/or fraud (e.g. scams, undecipherable financial instruments and investment vehicles, etc.).

The government is not--and has never been--in the role of enforcing or bolstering the subjective, psychological "quality" of interpersonal relationships, or mitigating the emotional harm from ones that fail to meet the happiness threshold of one or more parties. Yes, there is family court, but the state's interest in child custody issues and the terms of divorce stems from a relatively narrow, technical preoccupation with financially equitable outcomes, as they relate to the subsequent quality of life and opportunities of the child and both (ex-)spouses. The courts' role there deals with the material effects of what happens to the actors when the particular family unit does break down, not with the prevention thereof.

There are plenty of other relationships whose failure or compromise can also have deleterious effects: psychologically taxing collegiate or supervisory work relationships, friendships that go south upon the revelation of deceit or betrayal, etc. It's not the government's place to legislate away all conceivably problematic dimensions of human existence, nor particularly feasible from a logistical standpoint.

Getting the government involved in the question of adultery is a slippery slope; why not also police lying (outside the sphere of commercial law and/or tort law)? If extramarital sex is harmful to the family unit and unconducive to the public welfare, why not throw people in prison for it, or worse? Causing people grief or anger, or any other emotion associated with a frowny face is also injurious to the public welfare in the aggregate; it is relatively straightforward to show that a certain population of unhappy people lead to "worse" (that is, less socially appealing) outcomes than happy ones.

Unless you're interested in moving in the direction of despotic theocracies, these are not the the real questions.

Being sex-starved is a lousy reason for starting or staying in a family.

I live here (born and raised) and have trouble with such aspects of it. Best answer I can suggest off the cuff is culturally inherited "Puritan guilt". The folks who founded this country were the societal rejects of Europe and had to survive a lot in the process of coming here. I think that still impacts the culture.

I used to know Jim Buckmaster, the CEO of CL back in the day in Ann Arbor. He dated my sister for several years.

Any ways Jim is a really smart and together guy, and I would suspect in his heart that he takes a pretty dim view of people who shop for sex. At the same time I know him to be a person of principle and I suspect those principles are some type of Chomskyan libertarianism. BTW I wonder what Chomsky would say w.r.t. this controversy.

Clearly you have two opposing principles. One is free speech, the other is something that most feel is inherently exploitative and should be minimized.

Any ways, I suspect that CL gets more heat because they go against the grain of common corporate culture. Like I said, Jim is a man of principle.

Chomskyan libertarianism?

I'm not very familiar with Chomsky, but as I recall he has opposed freedom of speech, freedom of contract (for low skill workers), and favors taking wealth from some and giving to others by force. Wikipedia describes him as a socialist.

That sounds like the exact opposite of libertarianism to me. Could you explain what you mean by the term?

Sorry, you are right. I misspoke. He rather has 'anarchist' leanings. He is against "systems of domination without justification".

Chomsky has a complex position that defies quick labels. I think his analysis of the system is pretty accurate, but, of course I don't really see him as having presented any type of workable solution/alternative. But what brilliant analysis and critique!

Chomsky is a 'libertarian socialist', which is very different than Socialism. See the giant thread here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1653063

This seems a bit petulant to me.

There is real, substantive criticism of how CL handles adult ads independent of grandstanding politicians, hand-wringing moralists, and sensationalist media. These groups are always going to be flinging shit around; why dignify them by pretending to be their victim?

And why refuse to acknowledge the legitimate issues that are raised? CL has said nothing in response to critics who have pointed out that independent research groups have been able to place ads that contradict CL's stated policies, or that relevant authorities have said they've received few to no reports of suspicious activity from CL. Refusing to acknowledge these problems, and instead focusing on the misdeeds or weakest arguments of their most sensational critics, undermines CL's credibility quite a bit.

And if you are going to shut the section down on your own, just do it. You don't get any pity for claiming you've been censored when there's been no actual legal pressure applied. You haven't been censored, you just caved.

Why is it if I place a personal ad on match.com and meet a uy for coffee and he turns out to be a salker that I can call LE for help. But if I place a adult ad and charge for my time and companiosnhip I can not get any assistance from LE if I need it. Ironically do you know what they do to the hookers once they sent them to jail. f they go to prison they usualy get raped by correctional offcers and even used for THEIR OWN PROSTITUION RING, as they are state property. We already have prrof that indoor prositution works, RI had a loophole from 1979 til 2009, they never charged anyone with human trafficking and only arrested street hookers in public and when the CL killer killed the girl in Boston he then wentto RI and robbed a women and she called LE reported it and that is why they catch him. LE does ot want cooperateion from hookersor Craiglsit they just want the keep the witch hunt going for their own personal campaign stradegy.

Ironically even though Craigslist just about crippled the newspaper industry, these same newspapers have been running adult ads in the personal sections, in every major cities for years, ad how about the good old yelow pages that the escort services use to pay 15,000 a year to appear in. The problem is this, LE is going to keep using CL as an escape goat, while they have no real interest in catching pimps expoiting teens, they want to STALK MIDDLE AGE CONSENTING ADULTS IN PRIVATE, because of their moral witch hunt. We have street hookers in every city, they don't seem to concerned about them. On top of the sex worker being criminalized LE often calls her employer and landlord when they arrest her, its like being the victim of a hate crime, where you hated just because you exisit. We are not given the same sancation and protection under the law as everyne else, and they even wish us harm. Why are we such a threat, it seems if they went after the predators and pimps with the same ZEST that they go after these consenting adults, we might live in a nicer world. Also lets look at LE behavior, follow this newsfeed http://theproviderpage.com/news/TheProviderPage-News.php

Here you will see how the chief of police was handing out crack to street hookers and then expoitig them for sex in lue of going to jail and the 2 cops while arresting a women on a online sting, they took pics of her naked with their personal cell phones while she cried and begged to get dressed as they laughed at her. All sex workers are expoited, by their own persona plight, poverty, and how does society really think we will be safer if we become homeless and live on the street, don't you think we would be raped and become a target for violence because we have no shelter/safety. None of these MORAL People who want to save us from ourselves are creating any services or safety for these women. I just wonder why society seems to think its ok to treat a hooker anyway and that she gets what she deserves, she could easily be your mother, sister, aunt or child. Don't be so naive that you think this would never affect someone you know. The internet gave me the abilty to find safer, higher paying clients, that I see on my terms, without needing an agency to give half my money too. I can choose to see just 1 or 2 clients a day and am putting my daugter through college as a single mom. I am also creating http://theproviderpage.com/cms/ which I am creating to support my peers. Thanks for listening to my rant.

People believing that the prostitution issue will be solved through craigslist section shut down, should learn what 5 whys root cause analysis is...

This sounds like first level solution, what about the other ones?

Emotional topic. Difficult (half)-solutions.

See us at http://theproviderpage.com/cms/

While we oppose society's Moral Witch Hunt against us and laws that criminalize us, we are aware that escort providers must live in the real world. At it's best, that world disrespects and ostracizes us; at it's worst, it seeks to exploit and even harm us.

TheProviderPage.com is a site planned and paid for by a provider to offer a safe harbor from that world for my peers.

Whether your method of running your business includes being a "lot lizard", a "streetwalker", an escort working for a respectable agency, an escort working independently, an exclusive mistress who takes on only one client, or a dominatrix who specifically does not offer "escort" services, you are welcome here and will be treated with the respect often missing in the real world.

We believe adult providers can make the best choices for themselves without interference from law enforcement on the one hand nor do-gooders who want to "help" us against our will on the other hand.

If you need resources and support to run your business, you will find that here. If you choose to leave this business, we seek to provide you information on the best resources that can assist you transition to another lifestyle. We respect each provider's right to choose for herself.

We vehemently oppose all forms of human trafficking and child prostitution. The victims of these crimes deserve our compassion and support; those who exploit others in such a manner deserve severe punishment.

While much of this site is addressed to women, male providers are welcome also; our only criteria for membership is that you are a provider. All are welcome to read and use our site, but membership is for providers only.

Welcome from Bella

This site was commissioned by Bella for her fellow escorts.

Bella has been in the adult industry for over 25 years. She has owned and operated escort agencies and also worked as a independent escort; therefore she has consulted with the finest attorneys available over the past 25 years. Bella keeps up to date on laws and what is going on in the media (see our news feeds) .

Bella's hope is that others can learn from her experience. I hope that other escorts can empower themselves, understand the risks involved and have the tools to make their experiences safer, and for them to be able to find support and fellowship from other escorts. And I hope the escort wanting out of this lifestyle will find some resources here that will help her in her transition back to the main stream of society.

The only requirement for membership is that you are a legit escort with a good reputation that I can verify. We have just started our journey here on TheProviderPage and have many more great ideas coming soon, and we also value your opinion as a escort so please forward your suggestions/comments and we will take them into consideration.

The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.

—Abraham Lincoln

First, the only question that truly matters: Cui Bono?

What industry made ~40% of their revenues from classified listings within the last decade?

What industry has been slyly running hooker ads and profiting off prostitution for decades?

What industry has been anti-Internet from the start?

What industry has been running sensationalist, sexed-up hit-pieces scaring the public about rampant crime on Craigslist for several years?

And more importantly in the grand-scheme of things, from a level way above mere prostitution:

What hypocritical industry has been utterly incapable of understanding that the core tenet of online freedom of speech is intimately connected to the availability of online, open forums where anyone can say anything in an anonymous, online public space that is protected under the first amendment?


And it's funny because no newspaper editor will ever let what I just said ever see print, as this tempest in a teapot about the world's oldest profession continues to simmer. Remember, it's an election year, so all these AGs who have been turning a blind eye to prostitution for decades now have the perfect political opportunity to play the morality police handed to them on a silver platter:

It has taken years to trend, but the MSM has slowly pumped up a moral crusade around Craigslist. Gee, isn't that convenient for them? Now they just want to hand off the ball to the state AGs. Then the AGs get to grand-stand from their corrupt moral soapboxes, which helps their political base, and the newspapers get to reclaim ~30% of Craigslist's revenue. Ahh, the circle of Life, ain't it beautiful!

You don't see Backpage, the 2nd largest site for the exact same adult classified ads being targeted at all now do you? Who owns Backpage? Why it's the Village Voice media corp, who has deep pockets, a long history, and many friends in high places.

Craig's biggest personal mistake was not doing what Google had to do a few years ago, what Microsoft learned to do in the 90's during the antitrust trial, and what countless other tech companies insulated in their Silicon Valley tech bubble all have eventually had to do: send one hundred or more paid lobbyists to DC.

Who has been public enemy #1 of the newspapers and their media conglomerates?

Who has almost single-handedly caused the entire newspaper industry to cave in on itself in just a decade?


What we're seeing here is just business as usual from the Great Houses of yellow journalism.



I know a thing or two about a thing or two in this particular niche of the classified industry, since once upon a time long ago I worked a very brief & desperate stint coding at some unnamed company in the adult classified biz. It's not at all what the general public thinks it is. It's a lot more organized, practical and intentional in subtle ways most people don't realize, while the sexy, titillating parts that you see Faux News and CNN play are not nearly as exciting in reality.

I don't pass any judgment on it—it's called the oldest profession for a reason. We're all mammals after all, what's wrong with that? In fact, I think it should be completely legal, across the board, and regulated by the health industry just like in Europe and most of the rest of the world.

Too many Americans are completely stupid in their expectations about what they think would happen if it were legal. It's exactly like with America's idiotic, failed War on Some Drugs and alcohol Prohibition. Make it illegal, no it doesn't stop, since any attempt to legislate the most basic and natural of all human behaviors is futile! Prohibition only makes it worse in fact, as it just empowers organized crime to take over. Who do you think is trafficking little kids for this? Who is keeping the modern day equivalent of female slaves? Who has international shipping networks to even do those kind of logistics? Who is committing 99% of the violence in an industry of "victimless crime"? Who is tying this illegal industry to others, like drug or arms trafficking, in order to capitalize on economies of scale? Not some 12 year old girl from some Asian country. And not John Smith who has been in a sexless marriage for 20 years. And it's not Corner Pimp Moe who still lives with his mother since he just got out of jail for a petty misdemeanor. No, it's the organized criminals and corporations pulling the strings in high places in America who only exist because our gov't has setup a system of (in)justice that enables them to operate.

And a massive amount of our tax dollars are wasted in law enforcement of this industry. There's a massive opportunity cost behind it—just remember, every hooker busted and given the average penalty of a $200 ticket with no jail time is one less robber, murderer, rapist, you name it, who is caught and taken off the streets by the cops. Not to mention that the cops don't really want to enforce prohibition, since they could care less about being the morality police, and they know they have a snowball's chance in hell of stopping basic mammalian reproduction, so they are already doing it half-assed. It's kind of like the military study where they found that 60% of soldiers on the battle fields were intentionally aiming high during Vietnam to miss their human targets—such is the subconscious social fear of hurting other human beings! We need our cops to be effective and trusted by society, not the opposite! So why are we setting up a judicial system that sets the cops up for failure?

And don't even get me started on the Feminist angle on all of this. I'll just say that I know of nothing else in society than making it illegal that has done more to exploit, injure and permanently disadvantage countless innocent women than the entire legal and social apparatus setup for prohibition. Most of these women have tough lives, tough backgrounds, they have fallen through the cracks in education and our social system, and they are single moms getting by in a decimated economy. That's not exactly what I picture when I imagine criminals. But here in America we can't treat people at the bottom of our social order in a decent, Christian way. As a society, what is our solution to this so-called problem? We add another layer of victimization on these innocent women who are already victimized! America is shameful in how always treats its least well-off citizens. Yes, I blame the hypocritical religious fundies who's modus operandi is to scare folks into the pews on Sundays, and who have apparently forgotten the level of forgiveness and tolerance which Jesus himself showed to prostitutes. Ultimately it's due to America's historic, unchangeable bedrock of Puritan culture. Even though America practically invented porn, culturally, we have a completely backwards view towards human sexuality and behavior, compared to the rest of the modernized world, who laughs at us. Ooh, the answer, I know, I know, let's criminalize it!

As for the consequences of legality, no, all marriages and relationships would not be doomed as everyone switches to hookers. In fact, the opposite would probably happen: the price would drop(you have no idea how much of the money is wasted on jumping through hoops to keep safe from organized crime and Johnny Law), and the labor supply would go up a little bit. But the social stigma would remain, and this is the important part. Since humans are entirely social creatures, legalization would probably have the completely counter-intuitive effect of making relationships better across society, since if sex is made nearly valueless, rather than equivalent to what a top attorney would bill you per hour, then the social shame aspect is suddenly bumped to the top of the list of concerns. Since you don't have to worry about being associated with illegality, slavery, crime, etc. And we all know that shaming within social groups is the most effective way to alter and control human behavior—even more so than relying on prison or economics to do it. QED.

" As a society, what is our solution to this so-called problem? We add another layer of victimization on these innocent women who are already victimized!"

'Fun' fact, one out of every 50 times a prostitute in Chicago has sex she's doing it with a cop for no money so he doesn't arrest her.

Newspapers are in decline in Europe, too. There's (almost) no Craigslist in Germany.

> and regulated by the health industry just like in Europe and most of the rest of the world.

That's not true. Don't know exactly the case in the Netherlands/Amsterdam, but it's not wide-Europe thing, and surely not 'most of the rest of the world'.

Other from that, it is a really great comment.

It's been regulated in the Netherlands for decades, but is't only been entirely legal for a few years. It still hasn't completely stamped out illegal immigrants being forced to prostitute themselves though. These girls are afraid to be sent back to where they came from and they don't pay taxes so they're a lot cheaper (and more willing to do deviant things)

> send one hundred or more paid lobbyists to DC.

With what money? Not only does Craigslist not really have any profitable business interests to protect, but they don't have the money to do that even if they wanted to.

I don't think the down votes are warranted here.

Craigslist makes money but this money is minimal compared to the amount of money its taking from the billion-dollar newspaper industry.

Sending 100+ lobbyists to Washington would cost at least a good chunk of the ~$100 million/year that craigslist makes. It's reasonable to argue that it would make no sense to do this.

A wise man once said, it takes money to make money.

Rather than viewing a modest annual expense of $20 million on lobbyists and branding, look at it as protection money that enables the revenue stream to continue and to grow. If the choice comes down to either shutting down all of Craigslist because they can't possibly moderate every post after hookers are using their freedom of speech to posti ads in every category, or paying lobbyists to keep a lid on things from DC and thereby continue the operations, then the arithmetic shows CL loses more if they don't pay the lobbyists.

I loathe the entire DC lobbyist racket as much as the next guy, and it truly is the scourge of our democracy, but it works! Otherwise why else would all of corporate America spend such lavish amounts on lobbying?

Craigslist makes over $100 million a year. And they have just 60 or so employees. And I bet they have dirt cheap fixed costs. The website hasn't fucking changed in a decade, and it's more popular than ever! They're probably the Internet company with the highest profit margins! Craiglist is the fucking showcase example of Metcalfe's law.

But like bank robbers who foolishly think they wouldn't get caught on the 10th robbery, or a gambler playing martingale double or nothing all night, they fucked up. Craig should have pried open his fat ass wallet and toss millions of pocket change towards lobbying, branding, PR and advertising many, many years ago. Instead, they let their enemies, the media itself, define their brand and PR, and they lost control of the message, the agenda and the way they are presented to the mass public.

But Craig is apparently too hung up on his neo-hippy ideals of keeping Craigslist anti-corporate to realize that if he doesn't sink to the same dirty corporate warfare as the enemy, then they'll stab him in the back eventually. All they need is one good shot, and it's just a matter of time. I don't really get how a privately held $100 million/yr corporation is "anti-corporate." At that point it's just folly and self-delusion, he should have seen this storm cloud brewing miles away and years ago, and prepared for it to hit. Such as when Ebay tried to steal the company years ago. Too late now—say buh-bye to that $36 million a year in revenues from adult ads! Ouch!

I'm an unabashed Craiglist hater simply because he completely fucked up and missed the boat and failed us developers by not transforming the most popular and best single Internet site of high signal/noise anonymous contact into the best open mashup API of real-time, localized, semantic data. And this souped up mashup data API didn't have to be all corporatified either—Craig could have kept it hippy! Like Twitter! CL would only need to lift their pinky finger to instantly defeat the hundreds of millions invested in data mashup startups, Google, FB, AT&T, Ebay, etc who are trying to pin the market which CL dominates. Again, I see the opportunity cost—by CL not chasing change, we the users of the Internet have now lost more than we've gained from the potential of CL as force for good, community and the overall power of the Internet. I suppose my idealism is even purer than Craig's. :) At the very least, CL can stop sending C&D orders and DMCA takedowns to small websites scraping their data.

I believe a data API like this would have caused Craigslist to become even bigger and more unstoppable. Craig, Jim and whoever pulls the the strings are lazy, unimaginative fucktards who deserve to be dethroned so we, the Internet, can have a new winner in the next round of King-of-the-Hill: Winner Takes All Internet Edition. :)

> I'm an unabashed Craiglist hater simply because he completely fucked up and missed the boat and failed us developers by not transforming the most popular and best single Internet site of high signal/noise anonymous contact into the best open mashup API of real-time, localized, semantic data

Not only has CL failed to innovate, it actively goes after and shuts down third parties who do interesting things with CL data. :(

Stop whining. It's not your data.

Actually, if jbellis posts to CL, some of it is his data. It belongs to the people who post it, not CL. See the terms of use: http://www.craigslist.org/about/terms.of.use

Notably section 3, "CONTENT," and the 2nd paragraph of section 14, "PROPRIETARY RIGHTS," in which they explicitly disclaim ownership: "Although craigslist does not claim ownership of content that its users post..."

excellent ...

now if only we could go get everyone who posted listings to sign off on allowing us access their data we could build an API in no time.

If Craigslist actually stood by their community-centric, "everybody share" principles, rather than wear a fake mask of anti-corporatism over their money-grubbing true face, then Craigslist themselves would put a single checkbox on every Craigslist post form letting the user make that choice. And the default state of that checkbox would be "yes."

Then CL could just offer a bare-bones, REST, read-only firehose API to access those posts. Just like how Twitter does it. This entire project would probably take the developers at CL a month to roll out into prod. Hell, knowing how software shops work, they probably already have 3 private internal versions of it that were shelved by the ignorant, risk-averse management who only fear change and don't know how to tread water in the meandering river of technology and Internet society.

Wild idea for the Techcrunch rumor mill in 2011: it's too bad Twitter doesn't buy or merge with CL, and in absorbing CL, make them be more open and community-centric.

Perhaps CL will see the light and open up an API, as the newspapers get more desperate and turn up the dial on the hate. CL is going to need to show off something, anything to take the spot light off themselves before the wolves rush in now that they're injured & bleeding.

Oh you know know for sure that every user would want their data broadcast to 3rd party developers to do what they please with ... the way Facebook has done ... and oh by the way, how is that going for them?

Look, Craigslist doesn't want an api.

Its their software and its that simple

People need to get over it or ... you know ... go build their own classifieds listing service or something.

Ok, I didn't realize they make that much money, but looking into it they still seem to make $0 from personals, so why would they hire a hundred lobbyists to protect their $0 source of income?

Each ad posted to the adult services section costs $10 per post. Last year CL made an estimated ~$36 million off of their escort ads.

Oh, I didn't realize that either. Clearly, I don't post in adult services much...

The same newspapers that Craigslist just about crippled have been running ads for yeas,and they where much more expensive, my escort service I use to own in St.Pete times I paid 12.000 a year to keep a 3 line ad up and I also use to pay the yellow pages 15 to 30,000 a year. The internet has giving me the abilty to be indpendent, no more agency drama,and I am able to get better clients, they pay more, I chose the respectful day time guys and only have to see 1 or 2 clients a day and I am also putting my daughter through college. LE is using craigslist as an escpae goat, because they really have no interest in stopping the pimps from exploiting the teenagers, but for some reason they are obsessed with what consenting adults do in private, they go beyond what is legal to arrest these women, and most of their cases would not make it to trail if these women had lawyers, they arrest escorts for just showing up for an appontment, even if they are not able to solicit the women for an illegal act, so they get her for not having a massage license or supsion of prostitution, heck they can't arrest you for suspsion of murder unless they can prove it but its ok to lock up a hooker. They also BULLY the john into snitching and it works because they are no criminals and do not know what to do if detained by police, I bet a drug dealer or gang member wouldn't let LE into bullying confssions out of them. I have bee reading in the news, we have a chief of police handing out crack to street level hooker and exploiting them for sex in lue of going to jail and we have 2 cops while arresting a women during an online sting, took pics of her with their personal sell phones while she was naked and crying and begging to get dress while they laughed at her. these articles are in the newspapers, and happen all the time. It seems if we stalked the predators and pimps with the same ZEST as we d the hooker then we might actually catch some real criminals. But the million dollar question is this, why does the general public believe its ok to treat a hooker any way they want and that she deserves it, what gives anyone the right to HATE us, just because we. exisit. I know LE even calls our employers and landlords after they arrest us, with no cause other than to get us out of their town, do you think we would be safer on the street, where we could become far game to be raped and beaten and we don't want to be regulated so we will have to work in brothels and give the brothel wners most of our money, Back n 2005 I owned a escort service in FL and I was incorpated and paid taxes. Many agencies such as myself are now being harassed and stalked by LE, but seems like if your a cop or governor Spitzer you don't get prosecuted and you can still be on CNN. I just woner who many of MY TAX dollars is LE going to use to STALK ME. Thanks For letting me Rant.

Congrats on CL on finally taking the high road without being legally forced to first.

Claiming that it should be okay to do something questionable because everyone else does it is never the right attitude. Prostitution ads should not be right next to ads for cars, even if others do it.

Those that claim how many illegal things would be better if legalized and regulated are naive.

The points have been discussed so often elsewhere in this thread, but I just wanted to point out that, for me at least, this is very much the low road.

Bowing down to socio-political pressure without being demanded to, for a service that is very clearly popular and (I believe) ought to be legal is, in my opinion, spineless.

I understand that their heart is in the right place, and I'm very understanding that their belief system may not match my own, so I applaud them for doing what they feel is right... but that is all that I can applaud them for.

The problem is prostitution is not victimless crime like most men want to believe.

No-one can possibly believe someone wants to be a prostitute.

Not only are some girls forced into it by pimps and syndicate hooking them on drugs to guarantee their "employment", even if others just enter into it out of desperation for quick cash, once you are down that path it can screw up your life forever.

So yeah, condoning it and promoting it and making it easily available on sites like CL has to be prevented for the better of society over the desire of men to have effortlessly accessible sex.

I consider that taking the high road, thinking of others before yourself. I'm under no delusion that it's going to drop even 1% with CL's listings gone, but it's still the right thing to do.

Cars kills every minute, the car section should be shut down!

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact