Tennessee’s dreaded “AgGag” bill, which make those who covertly film or expose acts of animal abuse into criminals, was delayed in the Tennessee Legislature last week but if proponents have their way, a vote on House Bill 1191 will be taken tomorrow in Nashville. The bill, widely criticized by animal rights activists but causing the sickening “Big Lick” segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry to urge for its approval, would charge any whistle-blowers with a state misdemeanor if they don’t turn over all evidence to police authorities within 24 to 48 hours.
The very fact the Shelbyville-centered “performance horse” crowd supports the bill is enough to give millions of horsemen around the world the cold shivers but now comes the notion the bill is in blatant discord with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) will try to block the bill in House Committee and said, “This is the first time I have ever seen a bill requiring media to report what they see to police.”
Obviously, Rep Lundberg has smelled the very conspicuous rat. Often it takes longer than 48 hours to build a case. And in Shelbyville, where there have been hundreds of violations of the federal Horse Protection Act at the National Celebration in recent years, law enforcement is so cozy (and dependent) on the Big Lick you’d think the two were country cousins. It’s a fact — there has not been one local arrest in over 40 years of widespread horse abuse in Bedford County.
Deloris Grisham (R-Somerville) has sponsored the AgGag bill in the state Senate but Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) knows the bill is a sham. “Obviously this is a Catch-22 bill,” he said last week after getting Grisham to postpone the bill until tomorrow. Further, Norris has indicated he has no choice but to oppose the bill.
Senator Grisham is fooling no one when she piously cries, “This is not an anti-whistle blower bill … we’re just saying, whistle blower, blow your whistle. Take what you have to law enforcement so the abuse will stop.”
Oh, please, Deloris! Like your fellow sponsor, Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden), you viciously and publicly call those who filmed the award-winning tape of Jackie McConnell sadistically torturing horses as “vigilantes” while some whacko private-interest group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, calls the same people “terrorists.” Believe it or not — the ALEC wants those who decry animal abuse to be included in some type of a “terrorist registry.” Deloris, please give them my name because horse lovers are well aware what Tennessee has allowed the real criminals to do to Tennessee Walkers. Why do you want to be the “Big Lick” poster girl?