Backpage Backpedals Into Blame-shifting

Tony Ortega

Recently we saw how Backpage turned a blind eye to a woman who had contacted them to report that one of the “escorts” depicted in their online ads was only 17 years old. Despite the fact that the woman had informed them that the juvenile had been attempting to recruit the complaining party’s daughter, who was only 15 years old.

Over these past few weeks we’ve been building the case that instances like this were not one time mistakes. They were a part of a pattern of behavior which indicated not only a callous indifference by the heads of Backpage to human suffering but also a craven greed to profit from the pimping out of children and vulnerable young women.

In fact, on April 8, 2012, Michael Lacey sent an email explicitly emphasizing that “jim [Larkin] I and I believe in legalized prostitution” and stating that Backpage’s efforts to prevent the prostitution of children on the site were “not perfect, by any means.

Not perfect by any means?!  File that sentiment under understatement of the year! What does a statement like that even mean in the context of ruining the lives of countless people? To the architects of the Backpage Empire and their enablers it clearly didn’t mean that much.

Yet still Backpage publicly persisted in its unspeakably remorseless campaign to normalize the buying and selling of women and children for sex. On April 25, 2012, a Backpage representative spoke at a meeting of the New York City Council’s Women’s Issues Committee. During this meeting, the representative stated it was better to have ads for sex work appear on Backpage than have them move to other places on the internet. The representative further stated: “I don’t deny that Backpage is part of the problem, but the problem is the internet.”

Much like their rabid attack dog Tony Ortega, Michael Lacey, James Larkin and Carl Ferrer were shameless practitioners of the art of blame shifting. Instead of owning up to the truth of what they were up to, they consistently tried to make excuses or blame others.

Their twisted logic seems to run this way: the problem isn’t just us, the problem is the internet — so you might as well let us continue to exploit, mistreat, and oppress these women and children because its better we do it than other places online.

It is precisely this possessive, egotistical self-concern over and above the well-being of the poor women and girls they were only to willing to sacrifice on the alter of their collective greed that have made men like Lacey, Larkin, Ferrer and Tony Ortega into the soulless victimizers they are today.

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