MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Thom Hartmann points the finger squarely at the infamous ALEC for new laws being proposed – and some already enacted – that would make it a criminal act to document animals cruelly treated and slaughtered by the meat and poultry processing industries.
As Hartmann wrote on Truthout the other day,
ALEC is now parading around bills in six states that would make it a crime to film animal abuse at factory farms, or lie on job applications in order to get a job in a factory farm with the goal of taking pictures. All of this is to stop animal rights activists who infiltrate slaughterhouses to expose their deplorable conditions.
The bill proposals pushed by ALEC require all evidence of animal abuse at factory farms be turned over to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours, or those who took the pictures face a financial penalty.
The proposals also make it a crime to lie on slaughterhouse job applications, which activists commonly do in order to get documentation of animal abuse.
Right now, according to the Associated Press, the bills to block animal rights activists are under consideration in California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania.
Three other states – New Mexico, Wyoming and New Hampshire – have already rejected similar bills this year.
And several states already have laws similar to what ALEC is currently pushing. Utah has a law that bans unauthorized photography in farms, and Iowa has a law that makes it a crime to lie to gain access to a farm's staff.
ABC News gets down to the grisly details of what goes down at some factory animal farms,
An undercover video that showed California cows struggling to stand as they were prodded to slaughter by forklifts led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history. In Vermont, a video of veal calves skinned alive and tossed like sacks of potatoes ended with the plant's closure and criminal convictions.
Now in a pushback led by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators across the country are introducing laws making it harder for animal welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food safety cases….
ALEC has labeled those who interfere with animal operations "terrorists," though a spokesman said he wishes now that the organization had called its legislation the "Freedom to Farm Act" rather than the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act."
"At the end of the day it's about personal property rights or the individual right to privacy," said [ALEC] spokesman Bill Meierling. "You wouldn't want me coming into your home with a hidden camera."
But Meierling is using a logical fallacy here that is breathtaking in its deceit. If you take a photo in my home, it will not be of any brutally treated animals that are being commercially slaughtered to sell meat or chicken to consumers for profit in the marketplace. But that is the case with an untold number of meat industry titans. Their "houses" of business are abattoirs of profit – and they don't want the public to see the wretched, inhumane conditions that the animals live in or how they are abused.
Actually, the state measures that ALEC is currently backing and trying to move through agricultural state legislatures have their origin in a federal bill that Meierling refers to: the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act (AETA). AETA is a pernicious piece of legislation, passed into law by Congress in 2006, that violates the First Amendment in order to keep the public in the dark about wanton animal cruelty on a massive scale.
According to the Center for the Constitutional Rights, the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act has already had a chilling effect. In regards to a recent case in New York challenging the law, the Center writes:
The language of the AETA is so overbroad that it criminalizes protected First Amendment speech. The law punishes anyone found to have caused the loss of property or profits to a business or other institution that uses or sells animals or animal products or to “a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise.” Furthermore … key terms in the statute, including the definition of an “animal enterprise,” are unconstitutionally vague. The plaintiffs, who have long histories of participating in peaceful protests and animal rights advocacy, say that fear of prosecution as terrorists has led them to limit or even cease their lawful advocacy….
Critics argue it punishes peaceful protests and turns non-violent civil disobedience into “terrorism.” Moreover, though it targets animal rights activists specifically, the AETA is written so broadly, they say, it could turn a successful labor protest at Wal-Mart, which sells animal products, into an act of domestic terrorism. Non-violent protesters charged under the law face up to twenty years in prison, depending on the amount of profit loss that results from their actions.
The 2006 AETA amended the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), which punished causing a “physical disruption” to an animal enterprise. In 2006, six activists were convicted in New Jersey for conspiring to violate the AEPA, and served between one and six years in prison for publishing a website that advocated and reported on protest activity against an animal testing lab, its business affiliates, and their employees. The activists were not accused of injuring anyone or vandalizing any property. One of the defendants in that case, Lauren Gazzola, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the AETA.
Currently, as noted above, activists for the humane treatment of animals can be prosecuted if they share with the public abusive industry practices that result in a revenue loss for the slaughterhouse company. Yes, you read that right: if an individual US citizen exposes the cruel treatment of animals, and the public is repelled from buying meat or chicken from that company as a result, the animal activists can be sued for the loss of profit and treated as, essentially, terrorists.
This nation -- the United States -- has clearly walked through the looking glass as far as justice. In terms of mega-slaughter house companies, Wall Street, transnational corporations, etc., the Constitution can be bought through campaign contributions.
It's up for sale to the highest bidders, being sold off section by section.