Animal cruelty law crushed by the Supremes



Good news for all you sadists out there! The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, has ruled that it’s OK to make videos of animal cruelty. No, we’re not kidding, although, to be fair, there are extenuating circumstances, as those legalese people say. The justices overturned a federal law that banned videos showing graphic violence against animals, saying the law violates the right to free speech. The law was originally passed in 1999 to stop Internet sales of “crush videos.” Those films appeal to a fringe sexual fetish, and feature women who crush to death small animals by stomping on them, usually while wearing high heels. In the case in question, the law was used to convict a Virginia man of making and selling videos of illegal pit bull fights.

We are normally First Amendment “fundamentalists,” but this case is a real challenge. How do you say it’s OK to make money by killing animals for the entertainment of others? The whole idea is so morally grotesque, it boggles the mind — as do the many twists and turns of legal thought. The Supreme Court ruled, in a specifically limited decision, that the law was too vague. We can see their point, considering that a law to ban crush videos was used for another purpose, namely to nail a guy for making pit bull fighting videos. Justices said that the way the law is worded makes it possible to ban videos of people hunting legally. Granted, a substantial number of folks consider the sport of hunting another form of animal cruelty, but until the sport is criminalized, the creation of hunting videos will be legal, too.

The Supreme Court decision leaves open the possibility of rewriting the law to be more specific. We suggest specifically banning the production of videos of “illegal acts of animal cruelty.” That way, the crushers and the pit bull jerks can be dealt with immediately, and if at some time in the future, hunting animals for sport is banned (which certainly won’t happen in the U.S. anytime soon), that activity would automatically be included in the video ban law. In any case, we hope the feds rewrite the law soon; turning a profit from the suffering of animals should be illegal, and that would include selling videos of that suffering to whatever sick bastard would buy them.

Possible punishment for "crusher video" producers
  • Possible punishment for "crusher video" producers

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