Sex Files Nov 1 2008
SEX.ORG
Did Craigslist aid and abet prostitution, or was the website victimized by working girls?
 
 
Is Craigslist the new millenium’s red light district? Eight prostitutes were arrested in NYC last month for using the online site to solicit johns, bringing the year’s total of busted women to more than 70. In Chicago 60 women were netted. In Seattle a sting using undercover police officers nabbed 71 men, including a bank officer and a surgeon. And in Jacksonville, Fla., in August police arrested 33 men.
 
Nassau County, NY, assistant chief of detectives Richard McGuire put it bluntly: “Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now. Technology has worked its way into every profession, including the oldest.” Lt. Eric Sano, of the Seattle PD, describes a complex subculture exposed by his department’s sting operation, in which men are referred to as “hobbyists” and prostitutes are “providers”. There are even online review “sites where men rate their experiences and describe a woman’s looks and the sex acts she’s willing to perform, Sano said.
 
While law enforcement officials accuse Craigslist of enabling prostitution, company president Jim Buckmaster points out that 24 staff members cannot monitor 20 million listings per month. They count on users to flag objectionable ads. But cops ask how many users who navigate their way into the “erotic services” section of Craiglist are likely to flag ads. It’s a bit like asking a gambler to report his bookie.
 
Under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 the ads are legal and several websites—including Craigslist—have withstood legal challenges. “You hold the speaker liable, not the soapbox,” explains Kurt B. Opsahl, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Mr. Buckmaster agrees, saying that Craigslist is no different from magazines that carry sex-oriented ads. But law enforcement officials say Craigslist’s scope and format are especially useful to the sex industry. With listings for approximately 450 cities around the world, the website counts 25 million users and 8 billion page views a month. Online traffic ranker Alexa calculates Craigslist is currently the thirty-seventh most visited website in the world.
 
 
Craig Newmark, above, who founded Craigslist in San Francisco in 1995, has his own take on the matter. “We are a democracy,” he explains, “and we find we can trust our community. We would prefer that [police] go after violent criminals or crooked congressmen.” Many agree with Newmark that prostitution is a minor or even victimless crime, but Lt. Sano doesn’t see it that way: “No young girl grows up dreaming of doing this. It is easy money …but these women are being exploited and it’s degrading. You should hear what some of these guys have asked our detectives to do—it’s disgusting.”
 
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 25
1947—Prussia Ceases To Exist
The centuries-old state of Prussia, which had been a great European power under the reign of Frederick the Great during the 1800s, and a major influence on German culture, ceases to exist when it is dissolved by the post-WWII Allied Control Council comprised of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
1964—Clay Beats Liston
Heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay, aged 22, becomes champion of the world after beating Sonny Liston, aka the Dark Destroyer, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. It would be the beginning of a storied and controversial career for Clay, who would announce to the world shortly after the fight that he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
February 24
1920—The Nazi Party Is Founded
The small German Workers' Party, or DAP, which was under the direction of Adolf Hitler, changes its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Though Hitler adopted the socialist label to attract working class Germans, his party in fact embraced mainly anti-socialist ideas. The group became known in English as the Nazi Party, and within the next fifteen years expanded to become the most powerful force in German politics.
1942—Battle of Los Angeles Takes Place
A object flying over wartime Los Angeles triggers a massive anti-aircraft barrage, ultimately killing 3 civilians. Initially the target of the aerial barrage is thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but it is later suggested to be imaginary and a case of "war nerves", a lost weather balloon, a blimp, a Japanese fire balloon, or even an extraterrestrial craft. The true nature of the object or objects remains unknown to this day, but the event is known as the Battle of Los Angeles.
February 23
1945—Flag Raised on Iwo Jima
Four days after landing on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, American soldiers of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division take Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag. A photograph of the moment shot by Joe Rosenthal becomes one of the most famous images of WWII, and wins him the Pulitzer Prize later that year.
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