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Animal cruelty DVDs as free speech: Will the Supreme Court buy that?

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. It is almost as disgusting and vicious as animal cruelty and torture itself, that someone would get away with claiming 1st Amendment protections for making a living by selling videos of it.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case from a man appealing his conviction for selling videos of pit bulls fighting. A federal appeals court had agreed with him that while the dogfighting is illegal, selling pictures of it is not.

Go ahead, switch on the DVD. Wow, dogs ripping the jaw off a terrified pig -- that's entertainment! (And that's one of the videos this man sold.) Animal cruelty is illegal in every state in this country. It is a crime. To make money off a crime is to compound the crime. That's one of the many good reasons that child pornography is illegal.

So to say these videos can be sold and distributed even though the acts they show are against the law -- you might as well do the same for human ''snuff'' films depicting murders, because that's all that these are. Snuff films of animals. "It isn't murder, your honor -- it's free speech!"

Congress has already outlawed at least some of this reprehensible trade. It passed a law 10 years ago -- a law sponsored by a Simi Valley Republican congressman named Elton Gallegly -- to ban the sale of  cruelty videos, like the ones showing women wearing spike heels impaling and crushing small animals to death with their stilettos.

So 10 years later, this is a free speech issue?

If the justices find that videos of these cruelty crimes are legal, even though the acts themselves are not, they will be winking at, even encouraging, what might monstrously be called the cruelty entertainment industry -- all the dogfighting, the ''crush videos,''  the unspeakable acts of torture and abuse. 

Who cares if it's illegal to stage, as long as it's legal to film? Selling DVDs and videos of it, making money on websites showing this vileness, will only encourage more cruelty and violence. After all, the bail, the fines, the defense lawyers and the court costs for staging the illegal violence can simply be paid for by the profits from the ''free speech'' entertainment sales. Merely a cost of doing business. Welcome to Corporate Cruelty America Inc. 

This isn't about the 1st Amendment protecting hateful speech -- it's about trying to pervert the 1st Amendment as a shield for murder, for a ''business'' built on the blood and pain and terror of blameless and defenseless creatures.

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building. Credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

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Hey, if the money used in lobbyist's purchase of
Congress can be protected "free speech" itself, then
just about anything can qualify as "free speech",
including films depicting illegal cruelty against
anything -- people included.

Buy the ticket, take the ride...

This is terrible. There are so many more issues surrounding what this article is based on that simply and categorically need to be stated.
1. If there is a demand for this kind of filth, it will be produced at the expense of the mental, physical and behavioural health of all the animals involved.
2. It will encourage the perpetrators to make these films
3. It has always been known and has now been proven that violence against animals leads to violence against people, so one wonders what the next offence will be.
4. It encourages a culture of disrespect and violence, even for those of us who love and respect animals (i.e., comments such as "I'd like to string up the b*****d who did this" from an animal lover)
5. It costs the justice system (therefore taxpayers) a lot of money to process the scumbags who knowingly and willingly take part in this type of crime. Money which could be better spent supporting our shelters and animal charities to help them stop this kind of abuse.
6. Sentences MUST be harsher for animal abusers, as well as the enforcement of those sentences - to show that people won't put up with it!

I don't know about the maximum penalties or sentences given to animal abusers in the US, but here in NZ the maximums are NZ$25,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail, and usually a ban on owning or caring for any animal for up to 5 years. Pet lovers are lucky if pet abusers get a NZ$1,000 fine and there is usually never any jail time. We are sick of the amount of animal abuse occurring here, despite being a nation of animal lovers. Two very recent examples being a 14 yr old ridgeback cross used as bait in a dog fight between two pit bulls (the perpetrator - one of four or five involved - has been remanded for sentencing on 1st July), and three 17 year olds have been arrested for blowing the jaw off a sheep with fireworks, disembowelling the sheep, trying to set it alight and kicking it. Us pet lovers are waiting with baited breath as to the sentences these scumbags are given, and hoping that adequate justice will be served.

It's a crime to fight dogs...so can you tape it and legally sell the tapes for profit?

I have to ask:

It's a crime to sexually abuse children....so can you tape it and legally sell the tapes for profit?

It's a crime to murder another human being...so can you tape it and legally sell the tapes for profit?

It's a crime to go out and beat up a homeless person...so can you tape it and legally sell the tapes for profit?

First Amendment or not - if the act is illegal - you shouldn't be able to profit from it.

What a thoughtful and well-written article!

I have always assumed that child pornography was illegal because it encourages child molestation. If it were legal, it would suggest that the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the American people believe that child molestation is not a serious crime. It would suggest that molesting a child is a trivial thing: that if someone molests a child and gets away with it, then he should be able to sell pictures of what he did.

The same reasoning applies to the ownership of such pictures. If someone may own such pictures, then it must be OK to take such pictures.

Of course, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the American people believe that child molestation is an EXTREMELY serious crime. The Congress clearly feels the same way about torturing animals. Now comes the question -- how does the Supreme Court feel about torturing animals?

Thank you Patt Morrison, this is a despicable excuse, because there is no excuse for animal cruelty. It is high time that someone who has the power puts a stop to this barbaric practice of so called "entertainment." what a crock.
It is unconscionable in this day and age that people are allowed to carry out such atrocities to animals, but to then try and use an amendment to bypass any consequences is cowardly and cruel. I hope to God the Supreme court upholds it's moral and decent obligation to put and end to this horrific practice of torture. It's the least they can do for those who cannot speak for themselves.


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