Target: President Obama and USDA Secretary Vilsack
Goal: Don’t ban people from documenting animal abuse.
Anyone who cares about First Amendment violations, animal cruelty, and public health should have a vested interest in declaring all ag-gag laws unconstitutional.
Basically, ag-gag legislation makes taking photos, videos or audio recordings inside meat packing facilities a crime. As of 2015, seven states have passed some sort of ag-gag legislation, and more than 20 other states have proposals in the works.
At this point, photos could be posted here of all kinds of animal atrocities, and statements could be made about all kinds of health issues involved in the processing of meat in plants not following USDA guidelines. Animals are living and being butchered in barbaric ways, and children are then eating the contaminated results of this process. Most people already know all about this. But Big Meat is a business, devoid of emotion. So let’s deal with it as such.
Ag-gag laws should be declared unconstitutional. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the more recent rulings pertaining to it, protect photos, videos and audio recordings from being banned, as long as they are not illegally gained (such as breaking into private property). So, if you are an employee of a meat packing plant and take photos while working there, these photos are completely legal, as are any videos or audio recordings.
In January 2014, Judge Andrew Horowitz of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that bloggers (who were not under hire as journalists), were covered under the First Amendment. So basically, anyone can take recorded media and make it public knowledge, as long as it’s not personally defamatory.
Instead of trying to repeal all the ag-gag laws effective now in each state and trying to stop any other such laws from becoming active, the whole concept of this kind of law should be declared unconstitutional.
If I take a photo of a crime being committed on my cell phone, it’s called “evidence.” If I take a photo of a crime being committed in a meat packing plant, under ag-gag rulings, it’s called a crime. By signing the petition below, we can all take a major step in stopping the political madness, funded by Big Meat lobbyists.
Dear President Obama & USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack,
The existing ag-gag states’ bills, and all future actions of this nature, should be declared unconstitutional. These bills clearly violate the First Amendment, as they make it a criminal offense for anyone to record any kind of media (audio or visual), inside meat packing plants. Employees in these plants are therefore afraid to document any illegal practices they may witness, for fear of not only losing their jobs, but of having criminal charges filed against them.
The question is this – if the meat packing plants are operating properly and following the legal guidelines set out for them, why should they fear any kind of exposure? A legitimate business would welcome the free publicity, instead of trying to ban it.
I demand that ag-gag laws be declared unconstitutional, that all such laws currently enacted be repealed, and that any future laws of this kind be prohibited.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Mercy For Animals