retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports on how "a dozen or so state legislatures" have responded to videos shot by animal rights activists - showing acts of animal cruelty that resulted in federal investigations and the loss of business by some suppliers - by proposing or passing "bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms."

"Critics," the story says, "call them 'Ag-Gag' bills." But proponents of the legislation say that "businesses have suffered financially from unfair videos that are less about protecting animals than persuading consumers to stop eating meat."

According to the story, "Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. The group creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that in the past have included such things as 'stand your ground' gun laws and tighter voter identification rules.

"One of the group’s model bills, 'The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,' prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to 'defame the facility or its owner.' Violators would be placed on a 'terrorist registry'."

You can read the whole story here.
KC's View:
This is a crock.

This kind of legislation is created by people who never read the great quote by Louis Brandeis, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, who believed that "sunlight is the best disinfectant." Or, it is created by people who believe that sunlight is their enemy.

I am not saying that every video produced by an animal rights group is accurate, nor that every animal rights group is above reproach. But I am saying that to criminalize the shooting of such videos, and to suggest that all the people who produce such videos are terrorists, is an affront to common sense and, in its own way, dangerous because it diminishes the threat of real terrorists.

Give me a break.

It is hard for me to believe that such legislative efforts will hold up to challenges based on Freedom of the Press. But you never know.

I cannot help but be reminded of what happened in Egypt last week, when President Mohamed Morsi, offended when a television satirist (described as that country's Jon Stewart) made fun of him, helped to launch an investigation of the comic, accusing him of making fun of Islam and Morsi while simultaneously talking about the importance of freedom of expression.

That's the kind of stuff that can happen when people don't value daylight. I'd like to think that it cannot happen here, but then one hears about the efforts of organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council and model bills like the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act," and I have to wonder.

Let the sun shine in. Please.