Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime

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The New York Times -RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. – April 6, 2013

Several states have placed restrictions on undercover investigations into cruelty. Photo HSUS

Several states have placed restrictions on undercover investigations into cruelty. Photo HSUS

On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. And at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks.

Each video — all shot in the last two years by undercover animal rights activists — drew a swift response: Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. And the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald’s, which said the video played a part in its decision.

But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted 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.

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AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
10 Comments
  • BlessUsAll

    A sentence in the article reads: “Livestock companies say that their businesses have suffered financially from unfair videos that are less about protecting animals than persuading consumers to stop eating meat.”

    An animal advocate might write it this way: “These completely fair, truthful, and needed videos are meant to protect the animals BY persuading consumers to stop eating meat, with the result that the livestock companies go out of business, enabling everyone currently working in animal agriculture to pursue a compassionate, civilized, non-speciesist, ethical, and environmentally-friendly line of work — such as creating the next Tofurky product.”

    Those who treat animals as both meals and meal-tickets to fame and fortune are obviously scared that their violent gig is almost up, or they wouldn’t be fighting so hard to stay afloat. I pray the ag-gag bills are the last gasp of inhumanity toward our fellow-beings.

    April 7, 2013
    • Marcia

      Amen. Joining you in that hope!

      April 7, 2013
    • Lana Marie

      Well said & I might add….IMO – I don’t believe or HOPE that the videos/pictures etc., will NOT EVER STOP coming to our attention. Do they think for a minute that with this pathetic ‘law’, making it ‘illegal’ to report on the ILLEGAL blatant cruelty, abuse, or neglect by PEOPLE towards animals, are going to stop any of us??? NOT A CHANCE!
      I don’t know the names of the people who have taken photos or videos….cause it doesn’t matter! It’s what I seen is all that matters!

      April 7, 2013
      • BlessUsAll

        You’re right, Lana Marie. The whistle-blowers won’t be cowed by such repressive tactics. They will be even more relentless in their pursuit of justice, even if it means being conscientious objectors. This is, after all, a war. A war for the hearts and minds of citizens, who deserve to know that, as consumers, they *can* live their values. They *can* live up to their innate compassion, by quitting purchasing these products of torture and death. People don’t realize how much power to shut this sordid industry down — just by boycotting beef burgers and buying Boca Burgers.

        April 8, 2013
  • Laurel

    Cockroaches never want the lights turned on.

    April 7, 2013
  • Marcia

    The ag-gag rules reveal the ultimate cynicism and lack of good will of the factory farm industry. Instead of stopping the abuse and letting workers know it will not be tolerated, they respond by criminalizng the whistleblowers who try to help. Unfortunately, the big ag groups have enough money and power to buy legislators and in some states get their laws. I’m hoping that enough legal organizations worry about the trend and that enough people pay attention to oppose such laws. I also hope that groups such as Mercy for Animals, who have done such outstanding work in exposing the abuse and cruelty on farmed animal facilities, will continue doing what they are doing. If they are charged with crimes for showing the outright torture of the animals, then maybe trials and the media attention will bring the cruelty to light and backfire on the factory farms who wish it to remain hidden.

    April 7, 2013
  • Nancy B

    I agree with Marcia. If anyone is arrested and charged for exposing animal cruelty there will certainly be HUGE spotlights upon the idustry. Heck, that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise! Even if this ridiculous law somehow passes it WILL NOT stop the exposure of the horrific abuse of animals at factory farms, as well as the disgusting abuse of horses at private farms and ranches. There are too many of us who are aware and care to shut us all up, shut us all down! Even trying to pass this insane law is bringing attention to their torture of animals!

    April 7, 2013
    • sherriey

      and i say “Amen” to that!!!

      April 7, 2013
  • Amy Miller

    Wow, what will they do next to try and shut up the animal activists. It will just make us fight harder. I agree with all that was said here. Well said.

    April 8, 2013
  • Arlene

    AMen BlessUsAll

    April 11, 2013