Following up on E.D.’s post about Craigslist, I find it interesting that neither Reihan Salam nor Dana Boyd want to grasp the nettle, which is that the fundamental issue underlying the Craigslist dust-up is the prohibition of prostitution.
The way that both dance around the issue is interesting. Salam focuses on how Craigslist is a small company and a boon to consumers, then simply quotes Boyd instead of providing further argument. Boyd concentrates on the “sex-power industry” that keeps women down. Her fundamental thesis is that it’s a waste of law enforcement resources to mess with Craigslist, which was making a bad situation a little better for the indy sex workers.
In other words, Salam, who writes at the National Review, thinks Craigslist deserves special treatment because of its entrepreneurial spirit and the value created by a small business. Boyd, who contributes to Huffington Post, says Craigslist should be treated differently because they are on the side of the oppressed sex worker enslaved by an uncaring industry. It’s different bait for different fish, but both cases just amount to special pleading.
What’s needed here isn’t an exception for the right sort of people — we need to change the laws that govern prostitutes. The legalization of small-scale independent sex work will free up police resources to go after the sex-power industry, and it will get cops off the back of a hard-working small businessman. I imagine that Salam didn’t make that argument because his audience at the National Review can’t stomach the immorality of prostitution, just as Boyd’s audience can’t abide the exploitation of women which they believe is at the heart of sex work.
So many pixels are wasted in the pundit business arguing that good people shouldn’t have to follow the law of the land, when what ought to be argued is that the law of the land needs to change so good people can get on with their lives free of state interference.