Skip navigation

Sex, murder and the outbreak of moral panic

Globe and Mail Update

Craigslist has always walked a fine line between anarchy and grungy respectability. Still, the 'Craigslist killer' Moniker is hardly fair ...Read the full article

This conversation is closed

  1. Investment Industry Insider from Toronto, Canada writes: The issue is not morality -- if it was then many paid websites and free local magazines openly advertising prosititution would be targeted.

    The issue is the massive drop in revenues at leading newspapers and their Websites because of Craigslist's free classifieds.

    In my opinion Markoff could have read a paid advert, walked into the massage palour and committed the crime anyway... would Martin Bashir question the editor of that newspaper??? I think not

  2. varun xm from toronto, Canada writes: hmm.. good point above. for that matter I doubt the killer staked out craigslist exclusively. there were probably other channels he used (print, phone, pimps) but craigslist is the only one that left a breadcrumb trail. in that respect this is probably the safest of all advertising channels.
  3. Western Girl from Canada writes: You both misread the term "moral panic". Wikipedia has a useful definition: "A moral panic can be defined as 'the intensity of feeling expressed by a large number of people about a specific group of people who appear to threaten the social order at a given time.'" While I'm not sure that either Craigslist or Craig Newmark constitutes a "specific group of people", it's clear that Craigslist, and Mr. Newmark by extension, has been singled out as something to be vilified because something tragic happened in connection to the website. It fits with the persistent and outdated media typing of the Internet as being a lawless, no-holds-barred, buyer-beware kind of environment that is nothing like the safe and cozy "real world". As the author rightly points out, this woman could have just as easily met her fate through offline means. Probably the clearest, most recent example of moral panic was in the years following 9/11 - for the actions of a few deranged individuals who happened to belong to a fringe element of a major world religion, millions of people were lumped into a group deemed worthy of vilification and suspicion. Pigs are currently taking the brunt of the outrage for swine flu. I'm not sure how these phenomena came to be called "moral panics", exactly, but it's not related to morality in the way we usually think of it.
  4. Akbar M from Saskatchewan, Canada writes: Craigslist killer seems like a good name to me. It's catchy and has that alliterative quality. Would Cellphone killer been better or hotel room killer? Hardly. This seems entirely fair, inasmuch as any nickname for a murderer is. He did originally get in touch with the victim via Craigslist whether Craigslist is to blame or not is immaterial. This is infotainment not reality so I'm not sure why you have your nickers in a knot.
  5. B Gordon from Chilliwack, Canada writes: How many people got killed NOT using Craigslist? It would seem to me the rational argument here is that Craigslist is safer than not using Craiglist.
    Sensationalism sells a lot of papers and TV ads, there's money to be made and there are many people losing money to Craigs who are all too happy to vilify it.
    It's a slippery slope, vilify-> insight fear-> regulate, censor, destroy. It worked wonders in the McCarthy era, it worked in the film industry (Hays Code), brought about prohibition, was employed by Hitler in his rise to power.
    It's with us today, it will always be with us and we must always stand up for our rights. Enough with the witch trials; Craig didn't kill this person, nor did his website.
  6. Alex Yaxmos from Canada writes: Craigslist is just that a list. It doesn't seem to have a hidden agenda or a moral compass, it just is. The people that use craigslist are the ones that drive towards what it has become. I think big brother are just angry they have no way to control craigslist.

Comments are closed

Thanks for your interest in commenting on this article, however we are no longer accepting submissions. If you would like, you may send a letter to the editor.

Report an abusive comment to our editorial staff


Alert us about this comment

Please let us know if this reader’s comment breaks the editor's rules and is obscene, abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, defamatory, profane or racially offensive by selecting the appropriate option to describe the problem.

Do not use this to complain about comments that don’t break the rules, for example those comments that you disagree with or contain spelling errors or multiple postings.

Back to top