Craigslist Should Drop South Carolina Suit - InformationWeek

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Commentary
5/21/2009
04:41 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
Commentary
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Craigslist Should Drop South Carolina Suit

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster must be embarrassed by his stunning imitation of a sand castle at the water's edge last week -- I can't think of another reason for Craigslist to sue South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster must be embarrassed by his stunning imitation of a sand castle at the water's edge last week -- I can't think of another reason for Craigslist to sue South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster.Don't get me wrong, I think McMaster is a disingenuous hypocrite; he jumped on the dump-on-Criagslist bandwagon because he saw an opportunity to score political points. He knows full well that even if he managed to expunge every single illegal solicitation from the site, there would be just as much prostitution in South Carolina as ever. And as I pointed out in a previous post, the only ones who will really suffer are the prostitutes themselves, because at least Craigslist gives them a measure of independence, and the ability to somewhat screen their potential johns.

But neither of those issues concern either McMaster or Buckmaster, who are simply pursuing their own agendas. McMaster has continued to rant about Craigslist through the press, and Buckmaster has filed suit in federal court charging the AG with persecuting Craigslist, as well as "an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech."

The suit comes on the heels of a very public duel between McMaster and Buckmaster -- is it just me, or does it strike anyone else that both their names end in "master?" It must be a dominance thing.

Buckmaster clearly regrets caving into McMaster's pressure tactics, which is why he published an open letter demanding an apology. There was as much chance of that happening as Jennifer Aniston going to France to visit Bard Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

McMaster's response was more characteristic bluster -- what else is a law enforcement officer with eyes on the State House to do?

Filing a suit, however, is a simply ludicrous response. If it's a matter of self-defense, he shouldn't bother. McMaster's position is fairly untenable -- if he goes after Craigslist at this point, he'll have to drag many other publishers into court as well -- as Buckmaster smartly remarked in his "I demand an apology" screed -- including the very newspapers he probably hopes will endorse his candidacy.

Craigslist may not matter in your world view, despite our popularity among your constituents, but mightn't you want an endorsement from any of the SC newspapers for your gubenatorial [sic] campaign, whose publishers you've just labeled as criminals? Do you really intend to launch a criminal investigation against the phone company?

And if McMaster does drag Craigslist into court, Buckmaster can hire an attorney at that point.

But the suit is a further devolution of a chest-thumping match between a couple of guys who are letting their testosterone do their thinking for them. Buckmaster is obviously stinging from the humiliation of having to shut down a section of the site he's running, and McMaster is hoping that if he repeats his charges often enough, they'll start sounding less insane.

If Buckmaster wants McMaster to go away, he should simply drop the suit, shut up, and let McMaster yap his way out of public office.

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