Save Yourself, Tony.
"It just keeps getting worse, Tony. And it won't stop."
Village Voice Deathwatch 9.14.12
Dear Mr. Ortega:
For years now, you have been defending your company, Village Voice Media, for operating backpage.com, by far the nation’s largest online trafficker in child prostitution. You have excused this abomination with the lamest of arguments, all of which we have cited here for two years now.
You now face an ever-increasing tide of outrage and protest. Advertisers are dropping out in geometric progression. Your own publication, the Village Voice, is now virtually a shell, with few employees remaining and facing almost certain extinction. You yourself are vilified (and justifiably so) for acting as the chief apologist for this revolting empire that Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, your bosses at Village Voice Media, have built on the bodies of children and the revenues of pimps.
Do you really have no regret for any of this? Do you want a future where your name is inextricably linked with this horror?
You are already in the crosshairs of several blogs and websites dedicated to ending this traffic. The newest of these is about to go live today. Its name:
That’s right. We told you. It’s a compendium of every article published on the web and in the media about backpage’s sorry business, and your defenses of it.
So — what can you do?
That’s right. It’s not too late. You can still salvage some modicum of decency. All it takes is for you to say “You know what? I was wrong. This has to stop. And it stops for me right here. I quit.”
Otherwise, what will you tell your grandchildren? Your friends? Your loved ones? That, when it came time to make a choice, you stood squarely on the side of people who buy their dinner with money wrung from the bleeding bodies of schoolchildren?
Come on. You can do it.
For the sake of all those kids in virtual slavery, whose lives are daily degraded, who are beaten, battered and broken, quit.
For the sake of parents who go to bed every night in dreadful fear, quit.
For the sake of all those who try each day to bring an end to this monstrous shame, quit.
And, if not for these reasons, then, for your own sake — out of informed self-interest, out of practical necessity, recognize the complete futility of trying to maintain any veneer of self-respect or facade of decency in the face of the crimes you daily defend — quit.
And if you do, these pages will hail your decision, and congratulate you on your courage. It may be late in the day, but you need to act fast, because this vile edifice will not stand much longer. Quit while you can. Quit while you still have a chance. But mostly, just quit.