Does Freedom of Speech Apply to Ads on Craigslist

November 15, 2013

A lot of people go on Craigslist and use the personal section to find companionship or to meet new people. While some might believe it is wrong to post these types of ads, it is a form of free speech.

After going on Craigslist to view a few of those personal ads from around the Charlottesville area, many of the ads in the personal section were moderately tame, no more suggestive than a personal ad you might see in the paper. However, many others were explicit

Regardless of what was written, as long as there was no criminal activity, their right to free speech is protected.

“People who express something even if many of us find it objectionable either morally or just in terms of the language, it's still protective speech under the first amendment,” says free speech advocate Josh Wheeler. “What makes the difference is when that speech affects somebody else in a way that has a criminal element to it.”

There have been multiple cases across the country where online ads have led to crimes.

In Charlottesville back in September 29-year-old Nathaniel Lamb was charged with rape and abduction after replying to a personal ad on craigslist posted by a woman offering house cleaning, massages, and exotic dancing.

Court documents show the alleged victim met lamb near Angus road in Charlottesville and that Lamb drove the victim around town and raped her twice.

In regards to the recent federal case against 61-year-old Kenneth Kuban, where he posted sex-ads on Craigslist, posing as his ex-girlfriend, Wheeler says when Kuban involved another person in the ads, that's where he crossed the line.

“Using somebody else's name in an ad as a means to intimidate them, that would be an exception to first amendment protection,” says Wheeler.

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