The "erotic services" shell game: hypocrisy online

It is memorialized as the world's oldest profession. The movie Pretty Woman glamorized it.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

It is memorialized as the world's oldest profession. The movie Pretty Woman glamorized it. Congressmen and Governors get in trouble over it.

But what it isn't, is on craigslist anymore. A group of state attorneys general's have browbeat craigslist into closing the "erotic services" section.

Web 2.0, meet Hypocrisy 1.0. Online storage, meet online censorship.

Oh, and "erotic services" - meet "adult services" Yup, craigslist is replacing "erotic services" with "adult services." Which is completely different because - well - because "erotic" sounds fun and "adult" sounds boring.

Your dentist might advertise cheap root canals in "adult services." Tax prep software. DUI lawyers. Hair implants. Face lifts. Credit card counseling.

Yuck. Double Yuck.

Adult city, you and me . . . . But if it makes the nation's attorneys general happy. . . .

Privacy? Get over it. If Sun's McNealy is right, we have no privacy on the Internet. For the first time the whole sordid range of human misbehavior - much first documented in the Bible - will be public. In real time.

Then what?

Sick is the new normal? We'll either have to pretend that normal human behavior is sick. Or accept that what consenting adults choose to do in private is none of the state's business.

For all its promise, the Internet may simply enable a new, global prudery and repression. To paraphrase a keen observer of human behavior: "sinners cast the first stone."

The Storage Bits take This is a classic shell game played with fig leaves. The state AG's get to pretend they're tough on crime while the only thing that's really changed is a section name on craigslist.

What about crime? As craigslist notes, the assault rate for cl users is much lower than for print classifieds. Criminal predators will use whatever works.

Craigslist has gone above and beyond duty and the law to reduce illegal offers. The most likely outcome though is that someone else takes advantage of cl's tougher requirements. Like most efforts to control "vice" the AG's will simply drive it somewhere harder to police.

Comments welcome, of course. Guys: think it can't happen to you? Read about Belle Gunness, America's most prolific female serial killer.

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