Village Voice Media Responds to Clergy

Today 36 clergy affixed their names to a paid ad and open letter to Village Voice and the classified ad site Backpage.com. The full page ad was published in the New York Times.

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.

In August this same religious coalition asked for a confidential meeting regarding Backpage.com. We readily agreed. As we prepared to share our information, we were informed that only four members of the coalition would attend.

Village Voice Media then offered to fly, at our expense, all members of the clerical delegation to New York for the conference.

Backpage.com has extensive, working relationships with law enforcement, from the FBI to local police. This is part of a concerted effort to protect underage kids from predators. We looked forward to sharing this data.

In response to our willingness to confer, the clergy used a public relations firm in Washington to reprint in the New York Times a modified copy of the letter the clergy sent to the Village Voice in August. The version that was printed today had been altered, and left out both the coalition's request for a private dialogue aimed at solutions, as well as Backpage.com's acceptance of the request, and offer to fund air travel for all interested clergy.

Backpage has spent millions of dollars and dedicated countless resources to protecting children from those who would misuse an adult site.

Much of this information is publicly available. For example, the Dayton Daily News reported last month that:

"To its credit, Backpage this year took major steps to police its ads to help curb sex trafficking," said [Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, DC]. "Backpage has been aggressively reviewing their ads and trying to remove those ads that are unlawful and suggest they involve the sale of kids for sex," Allen said. "Backpage has reported to us 1,600 ads that they believe are suspicious." Allen said Backpage management appears to be genuinely committed to helping stop sex trafficking."

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.

Complicated issues require sophisticated solutions, not PR flurries.

Adult advertising, as found on Craigslist, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Yellowpage.com and numerous other web sites is complicated by those who seek to exploit this technology.

And the issues surrounding the exploitation of children are equally complex, often involving homelessness, drugs, and abuse at home.

Backpage.com is a digital classified site with an adult component that is attempting to be part of the solution. And we remain open to the possibility of conversation with these religious leaders.

Related Links:

Original Letter from Clergy to Village Voice Media

Village Voice Media Letter to Rev. Dr. Henderson and other concerned clerics from Sept. 27, 2011

Village Voice Media Letter to Isaac Luria from Oct. 17, 2011

My Voice Nation Help
23 comments
Apalled
Apalled

Just finished reading Kristoff's op-ed article today Jan.26, 2012 and feel sickened about Backpage.com's "marketing ads" that offer sexual exploitation of girls. 

congratulations Village Voice Media...I have never contacted "news media" (if that's what you present as your business) before today.  I find your publishers & marketing team culpable, despicable & irrespossible.From,a woman citizen who knows you've misused "freedom of expression"  and that your greed trumps decency.  Clearly Craiglist is more enlightened than you. 

GET THE WORD OUT
GET THE WORD OUT

Thank you for writing your article about the Child Sex SlaveMyth. PLEASE, PLEASE Write more articles about this, and the Child Super BowlSex Slave Myth, and Sports sex slave myth and the Myths in the United Kingdom,Germany World Cup, Olympics, etc. You should keep having more cover stories inevery Village Voice Media publication around America and afull report each week on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being toldabout sex trafficking slaves.

 

The lying people, get all the press. It is time the truthfulpeople get some press.

 

In order to do this you must KEEP IT UP. Until other newsorganizations pick up the story. Each week you need to have a big NATIONALcover story on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sextrafficking slaves. And publish the evidence on the internet. There is plentyto write about!

http://bebopper76.wordpress.co...

DJ Major
DJ Major

I love that people are acting like the information posted in the ads are verifiable. Apparently you have never tried online dating, people lie. People lie online! That's why many people use these sites to hide behind screen names and attributes they hope to have.

And since they are engaging in the illegal activity of prostitution there is no expectation of honesty. Not about age, health or safety.

arnie
arnie

Wanna stop a large percentage of "sex trafficking"? Shut down the catholic churches.

Love_For_Love
Love_For_Love

@2837093bdf55b26e03953cd3bf199daf:disqus .........This is crazy...Sister's girlfriend makes 73 hourly on the PC. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was 7756 USD just working on the PC for a few hours. Read about it on this web site.....http://alturl.com/37sp3

Myriam Breitman
Myriam Breitman

I bet the religious organisations are just bothered that the adult sexual activity is taking place out in the open. They'd rather have it behind closed doors of their confessionals, sacristies or sanctuaries. By the way - had the catholic priests used the services of prostitutes, whether male or female, I bet they would have had less desire to abuse 9 year old kids.

Patrick O'Malley
Patrick O'Malley

Let the FBI investigate.  

Then let those same FBI investigators investigate the Catholic church, which has been absolutely proven to have had sex with thousands and thousands and thousands of children in the US alone, and then covered it up.  In the case of the Catholic church, it isn't just child sex, its organized crime and cover up.  Use the same RICO statutes that they use to infiltrate the mob.  Thanks, Catholic church.  People almost forgot that you are the world experts on having sex with children.

Wayne
Wayne

Screw religion.

Just do the right thing
Just do the right thing

Just shut the damn thing down....geez. Why's it such a big deal to you?? Money?? Wth?

Margaret Teal
Margaret Teal

This outright blackmail by these relgious zealots! I'll bet there's a child molester or coverup priest in this bunch.

Tom Gormand
Tom Gormand

Fuck these preachers! There is almostno underage prostitution involved. These guyswant to stop the world's oldest profession. Never going to happen. Stand firm, VVM!

I.N.
I.N.

Right thing? So, the workers who post ads and thus are able to work indoors in relative safety and increased control over client screening, would now be pushed on the street? Is taking away people's livelihood and making them more desperate, and as such, more vulnerable to exploitation and danger, considered the right thing?

John Bull
John Bull

Shut up! You're an idiot. They have a Constitutional right to publish adult ads, especialy when they have proven that virtually no kids are allowed to slip in. As for prostitution, it's like blaming the phone company that whores set up dates with clients over the phone. Get real, dumbass!

Atomicme317
Atomicme317

duh. they, like any other capitolist institution, are in business to make money genius. However, there is a free speech issue involved as well. Village Voice Media seems to be going above and beyond to help insure that their LEGAL adult classifieds section is not being used to prey on kids. What is it with you bible thumper types, spouting about freedom until it offends your delicate moral sensibilities. Adult classifieds are legal, these clergy members can go suck an egg (or better yet, maybe mend their own fences and insure that eggs are the only thing they're sucking. they seem to have an issue with children themselves).

Jess Arnold
Jess Arnold

I couldn't agree more with several comments. Who are these pious retards to be curtailing the first amendment. when as VVM has proven, there almost no child prostitution involved in Backpage. Screw Ashton Kucher, too, the no-talent hack! Now the God squad is getting involved?   

Just do the right thing
Just do the right thing

Do you even hear yourself?? Nothing's right about any of it!! Are you in Jr. High school or something? You think because they may be doing it indoors they're so much safer? Let me clue you in-- THEY AREN'T!

JimBridges
JimBridges

Dear John,I suggest your read Nicholas D. Kristof's column in the Jan. 25 NYT.  He isn't talking about free speech.  He is describing forced child prostitution enabled by Backpage's advertisements - placed by pimps.  That is not free speech; it is commercial behavior which exploits minors.  The burden is on Backpage to make certain such incidents are not enabled by their on-line advertisements.  If they can't make certain, then they bear the responsibility and accountability for the crimes committed.

ghostlectricity
ghostlectricity

Sure, they have a right. But that doesn't MAKE it right. And if it involves exploitation and coercion, it may be fairly said, to put it mildly, that the VV is going against its alleged progressive, anti-oppression principles in favor of filthy lucre. What makes them any better than Goldman Sachs? The guiding ethos is the same in both cases: what's a little human suffering if we make profits for ourselves and our stock holders? The voice of Harry Lime in "The Third Man" is evoked: how much money can be made from each of  those little dots down there (humans as viewed from the height of a Ferris wheel at the top of its arc of movement) and what qualms do you have (if any) if, for each "tranch" of money you make, one of those dots stops moving, forever?

mjm
mjm

here's Ashton and Demi's publicist's phone #'s if you want to troll her (she probably set this whole thing up): 212-707-3256 and 212-275-4616

I.N.
I.N.

And you know, if I say the same words with my real name attached to them, I am going to lose everything I worked for. My real life will be forever labelled, avenues of official work closed. Clients never scared me. Clients, I knew how to handle. Well-meaning but ignorant and judgmental public on the other hand... you people terrify me. You are the reason I feel I need to hide, you are the ones who truly put me, and other women I know who worked in indoors sex trade, in danger because you create the isolation, the stigma, and prevent us from reaching out.

I.N.
I.N.

Awesome. I worked as an escort for 6 years and talked to many other women in the industry. But here you are, are cluing me in on whether I or any of us felt safe. Thank you for silencing and disregarding our voices.

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