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Should the Tea Party Defend Craigslist Prostitution Ads?

Posted on September 8 2010 2:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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When the Tea Party rallies for limited government and free markets, how far are they willing to go? At least one writer from the Rochester Independent Examiner says not far enough.

Craigslist has buckled to pressure from 17 state attorneys general and blocked access to its adult services section for U.S. visitors. The link on the site is now inactive and a black “censored” bar appears where the link would normally show.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party, a group dedicated to small government, freewheeling capitalism, and fewer government regulations on businesses has been silent on the issue. Doesn’t it seem they should be righteously piqued?

It’s a question I would have never asked, which makes it all the more interesting. Why aren’t I, a Tea Party coordinator and activist, upset about Craigslist getting bullied out of its adult services ads? Is it because, as this author goes on to suggest, my moral tastes approve of the outcome? Or is it simply that no real government intrusion occurred?

In [a] August 24 letter to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark, the attorneys general wrote: “The increasingly sharp public criticism of Craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution — including ads trafficking children — are rampant on it.”

A Craigslist spokeswoman said at the time that the site agreed with at least some of the letter.

“We strongly support the attorneys general desire to end trafficking in children and women, through the internet or by any other means,” said Susan MacTavish Best, who handles press inquiries for Craigslist…”

It sounds like Craigslist acted voluntarily to censor themselves. As intimidating as a letter from 17 attorneys general may be, it is still just a letter. It hardly qualifies as government intrusion. Still, Examiner writer Tim Nichols believes the Tea Party ought to be incensed.

… it’s important to note here that Craigslist has not been accused of any actual crime. The site merely provides an online classified ad service similar to that found in newspapers around the country.

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