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But Dart and his allies hadn’t been having much luck targeting Backpage, where many workers migrated after they could no longer advertise on Craigslist.
Public shaming didn’t work, and attempts to shut down the site failed both legislatively and in the court system.
We need to help each other out and lift each other up, with action, not lip service.
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Preventing these workers from being able to advertise makes it more likely for them to be driven onto the streets, into the hands of pimps or managers, or simply into more desperate poverty.
Politicians may not see this as an issue, but all of us should.
Not to be deterred by small things like the Constitution, Dart decided to attempt an outside the box tactic.
He wrote letters to the top executives of Visa and Master Card, asking them to suspend payment processing to Backpage for “moral, social and legal reasons…to help protect vulnerable and victimized women and children.” This tactic worked, faster than even Dart could have dared to dream.
What is new, and alarming, is the precedent this sets.It’s not a coincidence that Backpage got targeted first, but it would be a mistake for more privileged workers to assume that they aren’t up next.Real solidarity is needed, especially from those at the higher end to those at the lower ones. Many of the higher echelons of sex workers in the US don’t advertise on Backpage at all, and those who do are more likely to have the resources to learn how to use Bitcoin, pay high fees for prepaid cards, or move on to more expensive, less accessible sites.Backpage has never had pretensions of being “high-end” or “upscale.” The cost and barrier to entry to advertise on the site are low, and the workers who use it are numerically more likely to be poorer, browner, and less gender-conforming than the smaller and more homogeneous populations of higher-end sites—those with fewer resources, who have fewer options.
One cop can shut down a site’s ability to do business simply because it engages in speech he doesn’t like, even if that speech is legally protected. What constitutes “brand-damaging” is a matter of opinion.