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A Dark Day For Free Speech - Web posting protests lead to Jailtime

Old 03-02-06, 08:28 PM
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A Dark Day For Free Speech - Web posting protests lead to Jailtime

This group just got convicted for posting their protests on a web site.

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/LAW/03/02/animal.rights.ap/

They were convicted as.... terrorists under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, which carries up to 5 years in prision.

They weren't convicted of harassing anyone or doing anything to anyone directly, but of postings on their site calling for protests.

I don't care what side of the issue you are in terms of animal rights, this conviction has a very strong chilling effect on the ability for people express themsevles... even online.
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Old 03-02-06, 08:35 PM
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The government claimed the group, which goes by the acronym SHAC, used its Web site to incite violence against people and institutions it claimed were affiliated with the animal testing lab.

If true, apparently the jury thought so, that's a no-no. It's been so held by the courts numerous times - including the Supreme Court.

Free speech is not absolute.
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Old 03-02-06, 08:44 PM
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If the 'right to privacy' includes letting someone get an abortion, it should certainly protect someone from dealing with this:

"campaign against Huntingdon involved posting personal information about its employees'

Free speech is one thing, inciting violence is another. That said, all I know of this case is what's on that article, so I'm going to withhold opinion. If the website only discussed facts and opinions and didn't violate anyone's privacy, fine. If it did incite violence or recommend harassing or threatening people, then I'm glad they were found guilty.

Of course, this is interesting: "conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, is believed to be the first since the law was enacted in 1992". Either the punishment was so severe, that no one broke the law; or the law was another waste of words cluttering up the books.

I'm all for animals, but until they let us test medicines, procedures, or cosmetics on humans [say, death row inmates], we have to make do with animals in some cases. And when I hear 'animal rights', I think PETA, I think 'hypocritical terrorist freaks', and certainly that colors my view of other animal treatment groups.
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Old 03-02-06, 08:47 PM
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A political group which was promoting violence to achieve a political end. The definition of "terrorist" is rather appropriate.

But Geoff, what I do find interesting, actually disturbing, is that Anti-Abortionists around the country stalk and harass patients and doctors and yet they certainly DO NOT get the same punishment. This, I think is unfair.
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Old 03-02-06, 08:49 PM
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Hmm.

I thought this thread would be about this.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/3697628.html
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Old 03-02-06, 08:50 PM
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From the article, bolding is mine

"The six-count indictment charged SHAC and its members with animal enterprise terrorism, which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

SHAC and three of its members were also charged with multiple counts of interstate stalking and conspiracy to engage in interstate stalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

The group and four of its members were charged with one count of telephone harassment, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

During the trial, the prosecution presented testimony showing that SHAC's campaign against Huntingdon involved posting personal information about its employees and those of firms that do business with the animal testing company on the Web.

Many of those targeted have had their homes vandalized, and received threats against them or their families, testimony revealed."

It wasn't their message that got them convicted, it was their methods. Too bad advocating and inciting others to commit crimes they are too gutless to commit themselves is itself a crime. Sucks to be them, huh ?

You can express yourself by throwing all the punches you want, but your right to throw them ends the split-second they touch my face.

Last edited by NC-36; 03-02-06 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 03-02-06, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
A political group which was promoting violence to achieve a political end. The definition of "terrorist" is rather appropriate.

But Geoff, what I do find interesting, actually disturbing, is that Anti-Abortionists around the country stalk and harass patients and doctors and yet they certainly DO NOT get the same punishment. This, I think is unfair.
I agree with that. I am heartily against abortion, but I'm also against wacko freaks bombing clinics [of course, that'sonly happened like four times, hasn't it], or harassing patients/doctors. I am not against them demonstrating peacefully and legally near an abortion clinic.

However, how many anti-abortion 'stalkers' and 'harassers' get away with nothing? And there is a difference between 'harassing' and 'terrorizing/promoting violence'.
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Old 03-02-06, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranger
Hmm.

I thought this thread would be about this.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/3697628.html
Kids were suspended for *viewing* it? If it wasn't viewing using school resources, then that's just messed up. And if it was viewed using school resources, then that's taking zero tolerance too far [of course, *any* use of ZT is too far.] Now, if they were suspended for 'using school resources during class for personal purposes', and suspension was the penalty for that violation, fine.
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Old 03-02-06, 09:02 PM
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I'm not saying that harassing people is right or that the group communicated tactics which aren't cool. But the thing here is this:

- They were convicted for POSTING info on a web site. NOT for harassing people
- They were convicted under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act which makes these FEDERAL crimes because the business they were protesting agains involved Animal Commerce
- 3-5 is a HELL of a long time to serve in jail for telling people to make phone calls and send emails.

Perhaps this group crossed a line in their protest of a company that has been documented to do unspeakable things to animals (far beyond what's conventionally considered 'reasonable'). But this ruling is extremely unjust. Had they did ALL this to protest the war or almost anything else, they would not have been convicted and would not be facing 3-5 years.
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Old 03-02-06, 09:13 PM
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Do you believe animals should be given full due process of law? After all, you believe they have rights.

We'll have to stop eating beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish if Vandelay Inds gets his way.
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Old 03-02-06, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Vandelay_Inds
You won't find a more fervent animal rights advocate on this forum than myself. I still believe these kind of tactics not only fall outside of protected free speech, but severely discredit the whole movement. They will get no sympathy from me.
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Old 03-02-06, 09:19 PM
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Yeah, what about the anti-abortion wackos who maintain "hit lists" on their web sites with the names and addresses of abortion doctors? Why is that considered protected free speech?

I guess as long as your beliefs jibe with the current administration, you can do what you want.
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Old 03-02-06, 09:20 PM
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Headline: Hog takes his case before the Supreme Court.
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Old 03-02-06, 09:33 PM
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Old 03-02-06, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia
Yeah, what about the anti-abortion wackos who maintain "hit lists" on their web sites with the names and addresses of abortion doctors? Why is that considered protected free speech?
As long as they don't advocate or incite violence against them - what's your problem?

http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=457399
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Last edited by classicman2; 03-02-06 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 03-02-06, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason
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Old 03-02-06, 09:54 PM
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I happily clicked this thread thinking that liberals had been jailed for stating their views. Needless to say, I came away disappointed.

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Old 03-02-06, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dtcarson
Kids were suspended for *viewing* it? If it wasn't viewing using school resources, then that's just messed up. And if it was viewed using school resources, then that's taking zero tolerance too far [of course, *any* use of ZT is too far.] Now, if they were suspended for 'using school resources during class for personal purposes', and suspension was the penalty for that violation, fine.
Just thought this could be a free speech case. Not complaining about the kids being suspended, but it seems like a bit too much to bring the police into it.

as for the original story, well, I have heard stories of the FBI wire-tapping those animal rights groups.

My guess is that it has more to do about Congress being on the payroll of the National Cattlemen's Association than about public safety.
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Old 03-02-06, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason
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Old 03-02-06, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia
Yeah, what about the anti-abortion wackos who maintain "hit lists" on their web sites with the names and addresses of abortion doctors? Why is that considered protected free speech?

I guess as long as your beliefs jibe with the current administration, you can do what you want.
Pretty much, yeah. If you're a Jesus Freak and thump your bible 3 times a day, you're going to have the best 8 years ever.
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Old 03-02-06, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia
Yeah, what about the anti-abortion wackos who maintain "hit lists" on their web sites with the names and addresses of abortion doctors? Why is that considered protected free speech?

I guess as long as your beliefs jibe with the current administration, you can do what you want.
Under whose administration did that happen under?


On this issue, I have tried to find the political counterpoint that I have sympathy for so that I can better understand the methods, goals, and rationale of groups like this. But I can't think of any. I don't approve of bombing abortion clinics, keeping hit lists of abortion doctors, or anything else like that. But I did go to college at Washington State University during a time when animals rights groups came down and did incredible damage to the vet school, and I have a very hard time becoming sympathetic to these groups.

The special laws that apply to these groups didn't come about for no reason. They came about because these groups do terrible things, incite terrible things to happen, and don't give a rats ass for the perspective of others. They are black and white, just like PETA, ALF, and a host of environmental groups.

Perhaps some would view it as sad that there is no cause for which I would stand up and destroy other people's property. But it seems like a much more sane view.
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Old 03-02-06, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia
I guess as long as your beliefs jibe with the current administration, you can do what you want.
Yes because these things have only been happening under the current admininstration.
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Old 03-02-06, 11:47 PM
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With regards to the abortion hit list, the owners of that site were sued by Planned Parenthood and won a judgment which was upheld by the Supreme Court.

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/pp2...sc-posters.xml

U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Planned Parenthood Against Terrorists: Leaves Intact Court Holding That "Wanted" Posters Targeting Doctors Are Illegal Threats of Violence

WASHINGTON, DC Handing a clear victory to all providers and recipients of reproductive health care, the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the appeal of hard-right, violent extremists seeking to overturn a federal court decision that forbids the American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) from issuing "Wanted" posters that target doctors. The Court's decision today in Planned Parenthood v American Coalition of Life Activists to deny certiorari leaves intact a lower court holding that such "Wanted" posters targeting abortion providers are illegal threats of violence.

"The Supreme Court's action today is an important victory for women across America, for the reproductive freedom movement, and for Planned Parenthood," said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The Court confirmed what Planned Parenthood has said from the beginning: The First Amendment does not protect threats of violence, mayhem and murder from dangerous, violent extremists."

The U.S. Supreme Court's action establishes that the American Coalition of Life Activists "Wanted" poster threats were clearly designed to scare health care providers out of providing health care. As such, they were illegal threats under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law (FACE).

"The vast majority of Americans understand well the difference between free speech and violent threats. Threats of violence and murder are not protected political speech. The threats are designed to scare health care providers so they stop providing health care to millions of women we are talking about family planning services, Pap smears, breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraception and screenings for sexually transmitted infections. Planned Parenthood remains committed to protecting our clients, doctors and staff and bringing terrorists to justice," Feldt added.

Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists was filed in 1995 after ACLA began distributing "Wanted" posters that identified and targeted physicians who provided abortions. These posters had a clear meaning because they followed a pattern that had emerged in the preceding two years, during which three physicians who provided abortions had been murdered following the distribution in their communities of "Wanted" posters that identified them.

In 1999, a jury concluded that the posters were true threats, and awarded over $100,000,000 in damages to the physicians and clinics that had sued. The federal judge then issued a permanent injunction against the further dissemination of the "Wanted" posters. On appeal, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict and the injunction.
It would seem reasonable that the case against the animal rights web sites should have also been handled as a civil, rather than a criminal matter.
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Old 03-02-06, 11:57 PM
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Old 03-03-06, 12:02 AM
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Good judgement here. I don't care how "worthy" their cause is. Harrassment, vandalism, and inciting violence are not free speech.
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