The decision by Craigslist to pull erotic services ads from its site doesn’t seem to have placated either the site or at least one of the state attorneys general who forced the move. South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who was a chief critic of Craigslist’s adult ad policies, said once again over the weekend that he was preparing to bring criminal charges against Craigslist executives over erotic material that remains on the site. And on Wednesday Craigslist fired back by suing McMaster and seeking a restraining order against him.
In a post on the Craigslist blog, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster says, “In addition to being unwarranted by the facts, legal experts agree that the charges threatened represent an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech, and are clearly barred by federal law.” On his own site, McMaster responds: “The defensive legal action Craigslist has taken against the solicitors and my office is good news. It shows that Craigslist is taking the matter seriously for the first time.” It’s hard not to think that this is becoming a bit of a publicity stunt for both sides. McMaster gets to portray himself as being tough on a site that he has called a “facilitator of prostitution,” while Craigslist — which has been uber-defensive about its actions — gets to say that despite last week’s settlement it is not giving in to political pressure entirely.