God Vs. Backpage

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee October 25, 2011

1) Guess who just joined the fight against God.

Joining Mayor Mike McGinn and coalition of attorneys general led by Washington AG Rob McKenna, 36 clergy members have sent an open letter to—printed in the New York Times—calling on the company to shut down its adult advertising section to help protect children from becoming the victims of sex trafficking:
"It is a basic fact of the moral universe that girls and boys should not be sold for sex. So we were surprised and stunned to realize your company, Village Voice Media, continues to publish an Adult section on its classifieds Web site that has been used as a platform for the trafficking of minors."

As moral and religious leaders of many creeds and backgrounds, we are united in calling on your publication to shut down the Adult section of

We appreciate your efforts to put in place new measures attempting to screen for ads featuring minors. However, we do not believe that these measures are doing enough to adequately solve the problem, and we share the opinion of the nation’s 51 Attorneys General that the best way to eradicate your company’s connection with the sex trafficking of minors is to shut down the Adult section of your Web site, as Craigslist did.

Backpage issued a hyper-defensive response. Some highlights:
The religious coalition demanded that we close down our legal, adult classifieds. Neither government officials nor God's advocates can dictate such arbitrary control of business or speech.


It is true that, in carrying out their crimes, criminals continue to utilize services such as cell phones by Verizon and AT&T, and overnight delivery services such as FedEx and numerous internet sites. But that does not shift the blame from criminal predators to legal business operators.

If someone is caught shipping contraband through the Post Office, we do not shut down the U.S. mail.

What Backpage seems to be forgetting is that FedEx and Verizon may get used for illegal activity, they're not promoting it.

Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna have both rapped Backpage as an "accelerant" of juvenile prostitution. While you certainly can buy a used couch or a bike on Backpage, you won't find furniture ads promising "the married man's best kept secret and the bachelor's best friend" or "a whole new level of Ecstasy" (actual quotes from two Backpage ads).

No one's suggesting the government shut down the whole internet or even all of Backpage. Just the adult section on the site. McGinn, McKenna and the clergy aren't trying to control Village Voice's editorial content. They're trying to regulate advertising on their site, which the government does all. the. time.

3) Police are investigating whether members of a local rap performer's entourage were involved in a brawl in Belltown early Saturday morning.

According to a police report, several men were supposedly attacked at 1st Ave. and Bell St. by members of the "Krue rapper van," described as a "black camper-style van" in the report.

Witnesses told police several men  had been selling CDs from the van and "there were also numerous young ladies seen inside the van by witnesses," the report says.

The report doesn't give a clear account of what led to the incident, but says one man sustained a broken nose, another was punched in the eye and had his tooth broken, while a third man suffered a head injury.

One of the victims apparently told police he could identify two of his assailants.

4) King County prosecutors have charged three people for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Seattle school district. Prosecutors allege Silas Potter Jr., David Anthony Johnson, and Lorrie King Sorenson "diverted more than a quarter million dollars to two fraudulent companies," according to a statement. If convicted Potter and Johnson could face three to four years in prison. Sorenson could face up to a year.

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