Craigslist Killed Newspaper Classifieds. You're Next

Luddites, Moralists (and Newspaper Employees) Fret

By Published on .

We don't know yet if Philip Markoff is actually guilty of being the Craigslist killer. But lots of media oldschoolers have already convicted Craiglist -- and founder Craig Newmark -- of murder.

It didn't take long for the Luddites to come out of their caves to blame the online ad service for luring unwitting women into hotel rooms to be robbed and/or murdered.

"Craiglist shares blame in killings," writes one Ellis Henican in daily freebie (with one page of classified ads) AM NewYork. There are others, but we'll let him play the role of straw man for this exercise. (And no link, because the piece isn't on the web.)

So let's blame the technology. Because the victims placed ads on a website, the site must be blamed, right? "Really," writes Henican, "how's the site any different from an East Side call-girl apartment or an Asian 'happy ending' joint?" (Or the personals section of a print newspaper?)

Do we really need to explain the difference? One is a place where people advertise their goods and suggest that they might take their clothes off and touch strange men for the right amount of money. The others are places where they actually do it. Maybe you're completely unaware that very similar ads are placed on more-legit dating sites (and in the personals sections of print newspapers).

Hey, hookers ply their trade on street corners in New York. So why don't we make sidewalks illegal? Let's drag Mike Bloomberg before the court and ask him how he dare allow these pavements of sin in his city.

Or, to pick an example more similar in appearance and tone, Craiglist is the truck-stop bathroom of the web, where the subliterate ramblings of the sexually frustrated and monetarily desperate are displayed, unadorned, for all the world to see. So let's make truck-stops illegal too.

Of course, such idiocy overlooks the fact that—did I mention this already?—weekly newspapers around the country run ads for "massage artists." Or they used to before Craiglist took all their ads. Something tells me that has more to do with this sort of griping than anything else.

Though, really, Craigslist, you're not helping yourselves.

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