House approves bill that would ban sale of 'crush videos' and other obscene depictions of animal cruelty
The House of Representatives has passed a bill that, if enacted, will prohibit the sale of "crush videos" and other filmed acts of animal cruelty including burning, suffocating, drowning and impaling live animals. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), passed by a margin of 416 to 3. It now goes to the Senate, which is expected to pass it.
In April, the Supreme Court overturned a Virginia man's conviction for selling videos that depicted dogfighting on free-speech grounds. Chief Justice John Roberts said the existing law that criminalized the sale of such videos was too broad and could be used to prosecute sellers of hunting videos.
Gallegly responded by crafting a narrowly written law designed specifically to prohibit the sale or distribution of obscene visual depictions of animal cruelty. He became involved in the issue in 1999, when a local district attorney had difficulty prosecuting a Thousand Oaks man for selling a video depicting animal cruelty over the Internet.
"Violence is not a 1st Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue," Gallegly said in a statement. "Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This bill is one step toward ending this cycle of violence."
Learn more about the bill in reporter Richard Simon's recent story in The Times.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Megan via Your Scene