Business lobby moves to criminalize filming animal abuse on factory farms

pigabusevideo-screen-615x345By Stephen C. Webster

Bills being shopped in six states by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would make it a crime to film animal abuse at factory farms or lie on job applications, in hopes of shutting down animal rights activists who infiltrate slaughterhouses to expose ghastly conditions.

“The meat industry’s response to these exposes has not been to try to prevent these abuses from taking place, but rather it’s really just been to prevent Americans from finding out about those abuses in the first place,” Paul Shapiro, spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), told Raw Story. “What they’re doing is trying to pass laws throughout the country that don’t just shoot the messenger, they seek to imprison the messenger.”

The proposals mandate that evidence of animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours, or face a financial penalty. Several of the bills bills also make it a crime to lie on slaughterhouse job applications, which activists commonly do in order to get footage like the content of a video published by the HSUS, embedded below.

Those bills appear to be spreading with the help of ALEC, a conservative business advocacy group that encourages lawmakers to “exchange” legislative ideas from state to state. The group came under serious scrutiny after the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin sparked a national controversy over so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws that ALEC facilitated in 18 states, enabling the use of deadly force if a person claims they felt their life was in danger. Lawmakers in a further 25 states adopted a spin-off of “Stand Your Ground” laws called “Castle doctrine” laws, which allow the use of deadly force against suspected home invaders.

The bills to block animal rights activists are in California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press. Three other states — New Mexico, Wyoming and New Hampshire — have already rejected similar bills this year, and HSUS told Raw Story that three more — Minnesota, Vermont and North Carolina — are yet expected to take them up.

Several states already have laws similar to what ALEC is pushing, and virtually all of them were triggered in response to shocking videos produced by animal rights activists, who some critics have taken to calling propagandists.

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