UPDATED 13:19 EDT / MAY 13 2009

Craigslist the “Biggest source of prostitution in America.”

image "Craigslist is the largest source of prostitution in America," Cook County sheriff Tom Dart told ABC News.

I picked up that quote from Owen Thomas’s writeup of Craigslist and prostitution a couple weeks ago over at Valleywag. Given that Craigslist today has finally caved to political pressure and ended the “erotic services” category on the site, I figured the quote was worth dusting off and bringing up.

It’s an old stand-by topic that’s sure to drum up pageviews – which is why, for a while, Valleywag employed former working girl Melissa Gira Grant as their beat reporter on Silicon Valley sex.

The truth is, and I really believe this, that Owen is right in his response. Removing imagesex from Craigslist won’t do any good, and the true source of prostitution in America is “horny, desperate men.”

I used to go back and forth when I was at Mashable in my coverage of the goings on at Craigslist with the blogger in charge of CraigsCrimeList.  Trench Reynolds did an excellent job of covering the goings on, and in most cases I agreed with his analysis on other criminal proceedings, but when it came to prostitution on the Internet, he was of the opinion that Craig Newmark and company weren’t doing what they could to stop the sex trade on their site, and relentlessly chastised him for it.

I understand his perspective, but approaching Craigslist with this attitude is akin to approaching piracy and P2P the way the entertainment industry tends to. This style of thinking only leads to an endless game of whack-a-mole.

But rather than take an intelligent approach, which would be to use these services as a way to track down law-breakers, our government’s elected officials would rather sound like they’re doing the right thing in shutting them down as opposed to actually doing the right thing.

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