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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Animal Crush Videos

I am against crush videos, of course.  There is enough suffering in nature.  No animal should ever be harmed for no useful purpose. That said, I have to agree very reluctantly with the Supreme Court ruling.

The law, though well-intentioned, was poorly written.  When I first learned of the law last week, I spent some time thinking about it.  The law was intended to prevent obvious abuses.  Filming animals being slowly and painfully crushed is beyond defense.  It is my personal opinion that only a very sick individual would want to watch such pain, and that such a person needs immediate therapy.  So it is hard to defend the Supreme Court striking down the law aimed at preventing that.

But I gave the law a decent reading and considered the objections to the existing law.  Some of the objections are weak and self-serving.  But some of the objections are legitimate.  As I understand it, the existing law could prevent:

1.     Documentaries trying to show animal abuse in order to promote more humane laws.
2.     Documentaries opposing dogfighting to be used in criminal cases.
3.     Documentaries opposing abusive animal experimentation.
4.     TV hunting shows.
5.     Personal videos of hunting activities.
6.     Nature films where any animal is hurt or killed naturally.

Do I think those likely?  No.  Is it intended?  No.  But it is possible under the existing law, and therefore it is “overly broad”.  For that reason, the law needs to be re-written to specify the kind of abuse intended.  It is not a question of whether exploitive and cruel crush videos are permitted, just how to define them properly.

I struggled to develop an analogy for this.  Suppose that someone made a real crush video for exploitive purposes.  And then suppose an animal rights activist made a copy of the video to use to raise public awareness against the practice.  The same scenes, but for different purposes.

Both would be equally punishable under the existing law.  That is not right, and that’s where the existing law went wrong.  Intent matters!

I fully support a more carefully-written law that specifies details and intent to protect animals from deliberate abuse more clearly.  The existing law just didn't do that very well.


Alasandra said...

Very well thought out and written post. My first reaction was to be outraged by the Supreme Courts Ruling but as you pointed out the law was overly broad. I hope a more carefully written law will be passed soon that everyone can support.

Jacqueline said...

I support your view entirely and I believe with all my heart that intent matters in all areas of life.