Backpage and Tony Ortega: Turning A Blind Eye

For all the forward movement we have seen in the government’s coming case against the Backpage it is important to remember that while the horrific duo Michael Lacey and James Larkin and their team of villainous propagandists like Tony Ortega have had their dark dreams of building a platform to cash in on the selling of underage girls and desperate women for sex thwarted, the battle is not yet over. But its lines are now clearly defined.

Paul Watler, a media law specialist at Jackson Walker LLP in Dallas, sees the federal authorities use of seizing assets as an extraordinary move by prosecutors. He notes the irony in the fact that Tony Ortega made his stand defending the evil Backpage inflicted upon the public by hiding behind the First Amendment while waving his “Free Speech” banner and how this may have been the impetus for the government to pass new laws like Fosta-Sesta. As we have seen in our earlier reporting on the passage of these laws, it was through them that for the first time prosecutors are finally able to effectively make an ‘end run’ around Ortega’s bogus defense.

If and when Lacey and Larkin lose this landmark case—if the government’s asset seizures stand and the Travel Act charges stick—prosecutors will have a valuable new weapon to wield against online sex-traffickers. Personal wealth and seemingly inexhaustible resources will be no deterrent to being brought to justice.

And in this endeavor, the National Association of Attorneys Generals show no sign of letting up. On May 23 of this year, the group sent a letter to a handful of congressional leaders urging further moderation to Section 230, the loophole slippery operators like Lacey and Larkin (and their many knock-offs) have for too long been exploiting to their own legal advantage.

In their letter they wrote: “The abuse on these platforms does not stop at sex trafficking. Stories of online black market opioid sales, ID theft, deep fakes, election meddling, and foreign intrusion are now ubiquitous.”

They recommended that Section 230 be amended to allow a wide variety of state-level criminal prosecutions. The ‘get out of jail free’ card Lacey and Larkin popularized has been exposed for what it is, a license to get away with murder. Literally.

Still, unrepentant crime bosses Lacey and Larkin remain convinced that the furor over sex ads is, to use a phrase coined by their propaganda lap dog Tony Ortega, ‘irrational, hysterical moral panic’ being stoked by politicians and law enforcement in order to make Backpage look bad.

This defense is as cheap and flimsy as Tony Ortega’s last self-published ‘book’. The world knows the truth now. It was never the politicians or law enforcement making Backpage look bad.

By skirting the laws at every turn, by self-righteously draping themselves in a specious interpretation of ‘Free Speech’, by turning a blind eye to the very human suffering they were profiting off of — Lacey, Larkin and their Chief Propagandist Tony Ortega did a fine enough job of making Backpage look bad all by themselves.

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