Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Defense of Craigslist

One of the activists on a website called change. org succeeded to rally enough support to get Craigslist to shut down its adult services section because it "promotes child sex trafficking." Activists are now promoting a movement to prohibit such internet communications altogether. While I agree with a lot of what change. org promotes, I strongly feel its attack on Craigslist for its adult services is wrong because it encourages the suppression of some very basic human rights.

Yes, child abuse, especially child prostitution is wrong, but it is equally wrong to close down a message center where consenting adults seek other consenting adults to join them for sexual pleasure.

The quest for sexual liberation has been a long-fought battle in the history of western society. As late as the 1950s, the Catholic Church succeeded in getting any scene censored in any movie showing two adults being intimate beyond a closed-mouthed brief kiss. Unmarried people could not get an apartment unless they lied about their marital status. Promiscuity was fought so intensely that people who wanted carnal variety had little choice but to become serial husbands and wives with one divorce after another.

It was in the sixties that sexual liberation made its greatest strides reaching its foremost achievement in 1973 with Roe v Wade when a woman was granted the right to decide who entered her body and which embryo would be allowed to stay in her womb. Eventually both women and men would be given the freedom to have sex with partners of their preferred gender.

As for prostitution, it should be a basic right of any adult as to circumstances under which carnal contact is entered. If a woman or a man decides to take cash for having sex with multiple partners or to attach him or herself to a long-term partner for financial advantages, he or she needs to be recognized as having the right to do so.

We know that there is a potential danger in any given human activity. Dating on campuses is good for the social life of young people, but if someone happens to go on a date with a sexual predator he or she may end up being raped. Medicine that heals can be abused if taken in large dosages. Alcoholic drinks can relax many a social function, but most of us know the tragedies that may result from their abuse.

What is the answer for dealing with potential dangers resulting from human pleasurable activities? Should we outlaw dating because it might result in rape or in STDs? Should we make the use of herbal and pharmaceutical substances so difficult that anyone violating the norm for consumption in the slightest risks incarceration at any moment? Should we outlaw the sale of alcohol and close all bars as was done in the 1920s so as to eliminate the evils of intoxication?

As to the wrongness of human trafficking and child abuse, there is enough legislation in place to deal with transgressions in these areas. Our laws outlawing slavery and protecting children from abuse are adequate if enforced sensibly and judiciously. There is no more need to shut down the adult section of Craigslist than there is to close the bars, casinos and brothels of Nevada. As for the internet, there is so little in the way of safeguards of privacy that catching online criminals becomes easier by the minute.

The right to a life of freedom includes the right to enjoy being "sinful," and there may be few wrongs worse than to deprive people of that right.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Bring back the adult section now!

Harmon said...

I also agree. Perhaps there is some indication of the problem from the physics of momentum: "The total momentum of any group of objects remains the same unless outside forces act on the objects (law of conservation of momentum). In this case objects of thought about behaviors, projection of judgment about same, and intercession to alter behavior.

Momentum is a conserved quantity, meaning that the total momentum of any closed system (one not affected by external forces) cannot change." In this case it seems to be a conflagration of individual rights from a movement that needs that very "outside force" to contain it to the specific issue of Craiglist's circumstance alone or case by case as infractions are noted, leaving all other cases of consensual behaviour alone. God help us when a person or movement is on a perhaps well-intentioned, but unconscious tear.

Howard said...

Thank you, Harmon, for once again having hit the nail on the head!