Last week, "Carina" in Kalispell posted an ad on Backpage.com's adult services section describing herself as "tight," "juicy" and "blonde." She went on to declare that she's "available for house calls if you want to have a little bit of excitement and your [sic] tired of wasting your time on all these other girls who arent [sic] giving you what you want..."
The posting is one among dozens listed on the online classifieds' Montana page, advertising body rubs, escorts, strippers and the like.
It's all a bit too racy for 21 state attorneys general, including Steve Bullock of Montana. A few weeks after the same group successfully strong-armed Craigslist.com into shutting down its adult services section, they asked Backpage.com, in a letter sent Sept. 21, to do the same.
"Adult services sections are little more than online brothels, enabling human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a release. "Because Backpage cannot properly police adult services, the section should be shut down immediately."
But Backpage.com, owned by Village Voice Media, which also owns about a dozen of the country's largest alternative weekly newspapers, isn't caving like Craigslist. It released a response rejecting the "calls for censorship."
"Backpage.com is disappointed," the statement read, "that the AGs have determined to shift blame from criminal predators to a legal business operator in an apparent attempt to capitalize on political opportunity during the election season."
Bullock says Backpage's resistance disappoints him.
"While I'm hopeful they'll reconsider, I'll continue working with my colleagues from across the country," he says. "All of our options are on the table."
Bullock's office points to a case in Missouri as evidence of why Backpage.com should back down. There, a 14-year-old girl is suing the site, claiming it aided in child prostitution by allowing her pimp to advertise her for sex.
But critics of the AGs' crusade against online classifieds call it an affront against free speech.
"Censorship will not create public safety nor will it rid the world of exploitation," Backpage wrote.
In other words, if ads like "Carina's" aren't posted on Backpage or Craigslist, they'll no doubt be posted somewhere else.