I stumbled upon a pretty disturbing story this morning that raises some interesting questions about Craig’s List.
Last month, Jebidiah Stipe of Carbon, Wyoming, posted a Craig’s List personal ad with a picture of his ex-girlfriend that read, “Need a real aggressive man with no concern for women.” His ex-girlfriend saw the ad and called the sheriff’s office as well as the Craig’s List headquarters, who promptly removed the ad.
Unfortunately, 26-year-old Ty McDowell had already seen the ad and began to exchange instant messages with Stipe, who was posing as his ex-girlfriend. Stipe told McDowell over IM that the woman was looking for “humiliation, phsyical abuse, and sexual abuse,” and gave McDowell her home address. A week later, McDowell then broke into her house and raped her at knife-point, later telling detectives that he simply “thought he was fulfilling her rape fantasy.”
Considering the recent string of Craig’s List related crimes– the 22-year-old med student who used the site to lure girls into hotel rooms and then murder them, the Long Island mother who posted an ad seeking sex and the directed men to her daughter’s 9-year-old rival– Craig’s List is receiving a lot of flack for being a “blatant internet brothel” that facilitates violent crimes.
I am torn as to whether Craig’s List is partly to blame for these crimes. On the one hand, any popular, well-trusted website that purports to be legitimate, but fails to monitor and regulate the highly sexualized personal ads that are anonymously posted on it, is just asking for trouble. Whether it would help to regulate these ads or to remove the personal ad portion of the website altogether, who knows? But the rapes and murders are generating really bad publicity for Craig’s List, so one would think that they would do something to try to curb people’s abuse of their forum.
On the other hand, creeps will always find a way to be creepy, whether on Craig’s List or otherwise. Craig’s List itself is not the problem– it’s asshats like Jebidiah Joker who sit in a cornfield all day smoking meth and dreaming up ways to get their ex-girlfriends raped. It’s toolbags like Ty McRapist, who honestly thought a girl he’d never met wanted him to break into her house and sexually assault her at knife-point.
If Craig’s List didn’t exist, Jebidiah Jockstrap probably would have raped the girl himself, or put up an ad in the local Pennysaver, or e-mailed that guy he bought whippets from two weeks ago and asked him to poke around the ghetto for anyone who might be interested in raping his ex for kicks.
I guess what I’m saying is, don’t shoot the messenger. I mean, it would be no skin off my back if Craig’s List got rid of its dumb personal ads, but I have a feeling it would kill the social prospects of a lot of individuals, and why punish them because of a few creeps that would have committed similar crimes either way?
What do you guys think?