Outlawing Animal Abuse Videos
Animal-rights activists have had success in recent years making covert videos of abuses on farms and in slaughterhouses, showing defenseless animals cruelly mistreated in patterns unlikely to be caught by government inspectors making orderly, rare visits. However, as The New York Times reported in April, legislators in Iowa, Utah, Missouri and almost a dozen other states think the greater problem is that such videos "defame" operators of these farms and slaughterhouses. The states propose to criminalize the activists' conduct, which might be "trespassing," since they gain access only by subterfuge, for example, pretending to apply for jobs. The typical state legislation would also require any such video must immediately be turned over, not to government or the media, but to the operator — allegedly, so the abuse could be dealt with, but coincidentally denying activists their most valuable tool.