Target: Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Governor
Goal: Don’t ban undercover investigations of animal abuse on farms and allow businesses to sue whistleblowers.
Animal rights activists could be intimidated into silence by a proposed new law. This bill would favor business privacy over the welfare of consumers and of farm animals within the state, thanks to industry lobbyists who are pushing this latest in a series of so-called “ag-gag” laws. Undercover investigations, such as a recent one done within the state by Last Chance for Animals which revealed horrific abuse at a rabbit slaughterhouse, would be outlawed throughout the state and investigators could be liable for thousands of dollars in fines.
This bill marks the fourth time that Arkansas lawmakers tried to introduce some form of ag-gag law, but this bill is potentially far more dangerous than any previous incarnation. The bill is worded to be inclusive of all such investigations for any business within the state — not just for factory farms. Should the bill pass, nearly any business could sue workers, customers, or journalists who expose illegal or unethical workplace activity. Opponents claim that the proposed law goes too far and violates constitutional rights to freedom of press.
This is a bad piece of legislation which would likely harm people as much as it would animals. In making whistleblowers liable for financial losses a business faces as a result of an investigation, it is likely that many will be intimidated. Those who might otherwise report child abuse, sexual harassment or violations of safety codes at workplaces may instead remain silent for fear of being sued.
Rather than arresting or fining people who are trying to do the right thing, we must be targeting the real culprits — the businesses who would rather cover up their tracks than hurt their bottom line. Sign this petition to demand that whistleblowers and undercover investigators have the right to reveal animal abuse and any other wrongful deed occurring at any business.
Dear Governor Hutchinson,
A bill currently in the Arkansas state senate, HB-1605, would severely restrict the ability of whistleblowers and undercover investigators from revealing wrongdoing at farms and virtually any business within the state. This is a dangerous piece of legislation that must not be enacted into law, as it could cause potential harm to all Arkansans. Child abuse may go unreported at daycare centers, while fraud and insider trading could run rampant at corporations without fear of being discovered.
This is far more than simply an “ag-gag” law, but similar yet much less encompassing laws have been time and again shut down nationwide for violating the constitutional First Amendment rights to freedom of press. It takes the courage of undercover investigators and whistleblowers — the very targets of this bill — to effect change and to hold businesses accountable that might otherwise cause harm to animals, employees or consumers.
Arkansas needs to do more to combat animal abuse and to ensure that workplaces are safe and free of harassment. The intimidation and criminalization of whistleblowers is a terrible step in the wrong direction, and I urge you not to support this bill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Franzl34