Sunday, May 9, 2010


A 1999 federal law was nullified, scrapped by the Supreme Court in April.

The law said selling videos or photos of animals being tortured or killed was a crime.

Wow ... I find it hard to believe that this law has been overruled by the Supreme Court.

I think this is serious bad news.

The Supreme Court ruling -- 8 to 1 -- overturned the conviction of a man who sold dog-fighting videos.

Government lawyers had defended the 1999 law on the grounds that photos of animals being tortured, like pornography involving children, should be outside the protection of the First Amendment because the speech has little value and comes at a high cost to society.

They did their best, but they didn't convince the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts rejected the idea that the First Amendment protects only speech that is desirable. He called the scope of the law "alarming." If the law is interpreted narrowly, he argued, it could be taken as a ban on hunting videos. He rejected the government lawyers argument that footage of such dubious value and high social cost did not merit protection.

The one justice who dissented was Samuel A. Alito Jr. He's usually an arch conservative (his spaniel Zeus sometimes shows up around the court). He argued that the law could still be used to stop crush videos, which apparently appeal to some people's sexual fetish by showing women in stiletto heels crushing animals to death.

So, as of Tuesday April 20th, it is protected free speech to make and sell videos of pit bulls tearing each other to pieces.

Representative Elton Gallegly, Republican, Calif. and Jim Moran, Democrat, Va., co-chairs of the Animal Protection Caucus, have already introduced a bi-partisan bill that will narrowly focus the 1999 bill to deal with crush videos.

You and I and our friends could contact them.

It's complicated. Golly, their bill may not be enough -- it exempts hunting videos -- that could be a loophole for a clever producer.

Get to work PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals! Get to work if you love animals -- email, tweet, contact your congress person -- it can be fixed. We've got to fix it!
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