Dozen of religious leaders are calling on Village Voice Media to stop taking adult ads on backpage.com, because of child-sex trafficking that police link to the classifieds. In a full-page ad in Tuesday’s New York Times, the “moral and religious leaders of many creeds and backgrounds” tell Village Voice’s board members and CEO that “we trust that your company shares our outrage over the sex trafficking of minors. While we empathize with your business challenges and the increasingly difficult marketplace in which Village Voice Media competes, we trust that you are committed to running your business without compromising the lives of our nation’s girls and boys.” Village Voice Media says in its response:
The religious coalition demanded that we close down our legal, adult classifieds.
Neither government officials nor God’s advocates can dictate such arbitrary control of business or speech.
In August, this same religious coalition asked for a confidential meeting regarding Backpage.com. We readily agreed. As we prepared to share our information, we were informed that only four members of the coalition would attend.
Village Voice Media then offered to fly, at our expense, all members of the clerical delegation to New York for the conference.
The Voice says “Backpage has spent millions of dollars and dedicated countless resources to protecting children from those who would misuse an adult site. …Complicated issues require sophisticated solutions, not PR flurries.”