Demand Every State Eliminate or Refuse to Enact "Ag-Gag" Laws

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: Every state except Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Iowa
Abusing helpless animals is a crime in most places -- except when abusing animals is big business. In factory farms, at slaughterhouses, and in puppy mills, cruelty is par for the course. To expose it to the public, we've come to rely on undercover investigators to capture the abuse on video for the world to see. Most of those videos result in criminal charges against the facility in question.

Somehow, though, over the past decade, videotaping the crime of animal abuse is becoming a crime itself. In perhaps a dozen states, Animal Agriculture proponents have influenced and lobbied their state political representatives to pass "Ag-Gag" legislation.

Typically, ag-gag laws make it a crime to do things like covertly videotape factory farms or slaughterhouses, or apply for a job at such a facility without disclosing affiliations with animal protection organizations. Some "ag-gag" laws also require any such videos taken to be turned over to authorities almost immediately, which tends to negate any public outcry they could achieve if released via social media.

Why do Big Agricultural interests lobby for this kind of law? Because they fear the negative publicity those brave and revealing undercover investigations generate. Employees go to jail. Authorities keep a closer eye on the operation. Real change, which costs money, becomes expected or even required.

So far, four states which have enacted such laws -- Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Iowa -- have seen their ill-considered legislation shot down by courts on constitutional grounds. Such laws violate free speech, after all.

Care2 wants to urge every state in the union not to pursue "ag-gag" legislation in any form.
States should focus on improving conditional for animals in all facilities, not hiding what happens behind closed doors. If you agree, please sign this petition.

Petition:

Dear State Lawmakers --

We the undersigned have watched with great concern as several states moved to enact so-called "Ag-Gag" statutes over the past decade.

As you know, such legislation makes it a crime to covertly film animal abuse occurring in facilities like livestock farms, slaughterhouses and puppy mills. These laws make it nearly impossible for well-meaning whistleblowers or facility employees to bring to the public's attention horrific and criminal abuses of innocent animals.
Often, such laws also prevent reporting of environmental offenses, workers' rights transgressions and food safety violations,

Filming such violations should not be the crime.

If you're considering passing an "ag-gag" law, or have already enacted one, you already know that in four states so far, courts have found them unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. We, the undersigned, urge you in the strongest possible terms not to enact an "ag-gag" law or to eliminate it if one has been passed previously.

If you have not considered passing such a law, we urge you never to do so.

Every "ag-gag" law enacted will be challenged by the same animal protection groups who've been so successful in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Iowa. Time and time again, they will be found unconstitutional.

Rather than seeking to hide criminal animal abuse behind "ag-gag" laws, strive instead to improve conditions for farmed animals and the workers in these facilities. Only then will you be doing what's really necessary.
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