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Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Old 04-07-13, 05:16 PM
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Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Ag-Gag laws/bills are designed to prevent people from exposing animal cruelty. They prohibit and severely punish people for unauthorized recording or picture-taking. They also prohibit and severely punish attempts to apply for a job if you don't reveal your ties to certain perfectly legal organizations.

These Ag-Gag laws/bills violate the 1st Amendment's right to freedom of speech, and they are also redundant because it is already illegal to damage property. (Proponents of the laws/bills claim that they are trying to prevent activists from fabricating or staging animal cruelty and causing property damage in the process.)

Legislators should be working to ensure that farm animals are treated humanely and protected from cruel treatment. Instead, they are making craven attempts to silence whistleblowers.

Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime at NYTimes.com

On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. And at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks.

Each video — all shot in the last two years by undercover animal rights activists — drew a swift response: Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. And the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald’s, which said the video played a part in its decision.

But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms.
In Indiana, an expansive bill became one of the most controversial of the state legislative session, drawing heated opposition from labor groups and the state press association, which said the measure violated the First Amendment.

After numerous constitutional objections, the bill was redrafted and will be unveiled Monday, said Greg Steuerwald, a Republican state representative and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The new bill would require job applicants to disclose material information or face criminal penalties, a provision that opponents say would prevent undercover operatives from obtaining employment. And employees who do something beyond the scope of their jobs could be charged with criminal trespass.

An employee who took a video on a livestock farm with his phone and gave it to someone else would “probably” run afoul of the proposed law, Mr. Steuerwald said. The bill will apply not just to farms, but to all employers, he added.
Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. The group creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that in the past have included such things as “stand your ground” gun laws and tighter voter identification rules.

One of the group’s model bills, “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators would be placed on a “terrorist registry.”
This is some Orwellian nonsense. If you expose crime (animal cruelty), you are considered a criminal and a terrorist.

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Old 04-07-13, 05:29 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

These bills are basically an admission from the industry that they have no intention of ending these practices.
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Old 04-07-13, 06:44 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

There are plenty of states that make it illegal to tape police officers, so I guess what's good for the government is good for big business.
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Old 04-07-13, 08:03 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Ghostbuster View Post
Ag-Gag laws/bills are designed to prevent people from exposing animal cruelty. They prohibit and severely punish people for unauthorized recording or picture-taking.

These Ag-Gag laws/bills violate the 1st Amendment's right to freedom of speech,
So it should be legal to record things in an unauthorized manner? Does the 1st amendment protect other instances where people use unauthorized recording?

I tend to find that "farm cruelty" is a fairly easy thing for city folk to define, and it is anything that isn't treating animals like pets. Actual farmers tend to view it quite differently. I find the whole thing to be too subjective to care about.

What is the difference between farm cruelty and animal cruelty? Are there laws again farm cruelty? Is the big problem that we simply can't make recording on personal property without permission when we disagree with something? That's what this looks like.
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Old 04-07-13, 10:11 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

It is true that farmers may engage in certain cruel practices because they are legally sanctioned. But many videos have documented violence (beating, stepping on, cutting, shocking, etc.) that is simply not part of a worker's official job description and sometimes even blatantly sadistic. Other videos have documented neglect.

Concerning the right to record or take pictures on private property, I suppose that you think that people should not be able to document abusive conditions in hospitals or anywhere else that is not a public park or street?
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Old 04-07-13, 10:32 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

By the way, I personally don't think there should be legal exemptions for farmers. Cruelty is cruelty. There is no meaningful difference between "pets" and "farm animals." As everyone knows, some people keep pigs, goats, etc. as pets, and people in other countries eat cats and dogs. If you shouldn't keep a dog in a small pen/cage for its entire life, then you shouldn't keep a pig in one either.

Up until the point where a farm animal is killed, it should be treated well. It should have ample space to move around in --outside when weather conditions permit -- and it shouldn't be subjected to painful, unnecessary procedures.

Note: As a vegetarian, I don't agree with killing animals for food*, but I recognize that the practice will continue, so my main concern is improving the conditions in which farm animals live.
*Raising animals for food is unnecessary and results in suffering. In developed countries, people can easily obtain protein through other, less expensive means. And raising animals for food is also a waste of resources.

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Old 04-08-13, 01:52 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I tend to find that "farm cruelty" is a fairly easy thing for city folk to define, and it is anything that isn't treating animals like pets. Actual farmers tend to view it quite differently. I find the whole thing to be too subjective to care about.
I've known a few farmers in my time and kicking piglets isn't something they'd be real happy about. The ones I know treat the animals as humanely as possible, while still using them for their intended purposes. Some of this cruelty stuff goes WAY beyond that. I'm not even much of an animal lover and I can see that.
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Old 04-08-13, 03:29 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

So they're basically criminalizing whistle-blowing...

Why am I not surprised?
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Old 04-08-13, 06:06 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

If I hired someone to do some work at my house, I'd be quite upset if I found out they were filming everything they saw in order to hopefully capture some evidence of law breaking that they could turn over to the police. I'm not surprised employers feel the same way about their businesses. Though it does seem any law prohibiting it should immunize those who are capturing evidence of an actual crime, as opposed to those simply filming legal practices and posting the videos to rile up those who disagree with those practices. Of course, in some places, that's likely already covered by existing legislation protecting whistleblowers.
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Old 04-08-13, 07:16 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Ghostbuster View Post
It is true that farmers may engage in certain cruel practices because they are legally sanctioned. But many videos have documented violence (beating, stepping on, cutting, shocking, etc.) that is simply not part of a worker's official job description and sometimes even blatantly sadistic. Other videos have documented neglect.

Concerning the right to record or take pictures on private property, I suppose that you think that people should not be able to document abusive conditions in hospitals or anywhere else that is not a public park or street?
You don't actually mention documenting things that are illegal, just unsavory. Abusive conditions in hospitals tend to be against humans, and are illegal. There is a difference.

Originally Posted by Ghostbuster View Post
By the way, I personally don't think there should be legal exemptions for farmers. Cruelty is cruelty. There is no meaningful difference between "pets" and "farm animals."
Oh, for fuck's sake.

Note: As a vegetarian, I don't agree with killing animals for food*, but I recognize that the practice will continue, so my main concern is improving the conditions in which farm animals live.
Ah, that's the rub.

*Raising animals for food is unnecessary and results in suffering. In developed countries, people can easily obtain protein through other, less expensive means. And raising animals for food is also a waste of resources.
Property ownership is unnecessary as well. But we don't all believe in the hippie commune.

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
I've known a few farmers in my time and kicking piglets isn't something they'd be real happy about. The ones I know treat the animals as humanely as possible, while still using them for their intended purposes. Some of this cruelty stuff goes WAY beyond that. I'm not even much of an animal lover and I can see that.
All that I know would. My kids raise them for 4-H. It ruins the meat, which affects your price. We get them as piglets, raise them like pets (they are very smart and have neat personalities), and then we kill them and eat them.
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Old 04-08-13, 11:04 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by maxfisher View Post
If I hired someone to do some work at my house, I'd be quite upset if I found out they were filming everything they saw in order to hopefully capture some evidence of law breaking that they could turn over to the police. I'm not surprised employers feel the same way about their businesses. Though it does seem any law prohibiting it should immunize those who are capturing evidence of an actual crime, as opposed to those simply filming legal practices and posting the videos to rile up those who disagree with those practices. Of course, in some places, that's likely already covered by existing legislation protecting whistleblowers.
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Old 04-08-13, 11:11 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
All that I know would. My kids raise them for 4-H. It ruins the meat, which affects your price. We get them as piglets, raise them like pets (they are very smart and have neat personalities), and then we kill them and eat them.
That's my point. Use as intended. But hopefully you don't torment and mutilate them along the way.
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Old 04-08-13, 11:29 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
That's my point. Use as intended. But hopefully you don't torment and mutilate them along the way.
C'mon, they're not dogs.
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Old 04-08-13, 11:31 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Ghostbuster View Post
Cruelty is cruelty. There is no meaningful difference between "pets" and "farm animals."
Sure there is. I mean, I'm not planning on butchering my dog and cooking the meat.
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Old 04-08-13, 11:50 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
That's my point. Use as intended. But hopefully you don't torment and mutilate them along the way.
Of course not. It ruins the meat.
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Old 04-08-13, 10:21 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

So it looks like the argument for the superiority of dogs over pigs looks something like this:

All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.
Complete nonsense.

Dogs and pigs are mammals of roughly equal intelligence. They are extremely similar. Of course, there are differences in size, behavior, etc., but these differences don't objectively make a pig any less deserving of humane treatment.

It would be a bit ridiculous if I claimed that guinea pigs are more deserving of humane treatment than rabbits because I breed pet guinea pigs and enjoy rabbit stew. In this matter of morality, my business practices and culinary preferences are completely irrelevant.

Not so long ago, imperialists tried to rationalize their exploitation of other human beings. Of course, there was no meaningful, innate difference between the conquerors and the conquered. ("All men are created equal.") Imperialists just wanted other people's labor and resources so that they could turn a profit. Greed came first. Racism was a close second.

I'm not equating people and pigs, but the false dichotomy between "pet" and "farm animal" is just as transparent and nonsensical as the false dichotomy between "civilized" and "savage" people.

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Old 04-08-13, 10:39 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

No one here is arguing that farm animals should be treated inhumanely. What they are arguing about is the definition of humane.

But since you brought it up, yes, some animals are more equal than others. That's why it's easier to raise money for the preservation of furry animals, or large animals, over things like fish or insects. People spend millions of dollars trying to preserve pandas, a species that is not dying due to lack of space or resources, but is dying because they backed themselves into an evolutionary corner and the females are so picky they reject most possible mates. Meanwhile deforestation in South America is wiping out untold amounts of species. So, yeah, some animals are more equal than others.
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Old 04-08-13, 10:56 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Ghostbuster - Actually, I agree with you that it is subjective. In China eating a cat or a dog is not terribly different that how we would treat a chicken. But let's not pretend that you don't like subjectivity when it suits you and your own morals. If my morals say that killing an unborn child 10 day before birth (or pick your number) and your morals say that a woman's body is her choice and killing a viable unborn baby is just fine, then you and I have a subjective difference. Yours comes down to timing, and my sees both as life. I place a higher value on human life, and you place a higher value on "born" human life.

Objectively, the difference between an unborn baby 30 seconds before birth and 30 seconds after birth is nothing other than location. Subjectively, there is obviously a huge difference between people.

So pat yourself on the back for thinking a pig is just as important as a dog or a cat, I disagree based on my own subjective morals (though honestly, if people wanted to eat dog, cat, horse, etc., I would not think it should be illegal). But if you want me to give a single shit about your beliefs, you will also need to understand that your own "subjectivity" in other areas is equally "offensive." You just have different rationale for it. And I'm not suggesting that either should be banned or illegal. I am all for late term abortions followed by rib eye steak and bacon.

Few men have the balls to own up to their own biases that have no basis in objectivity. Do you have those balls, or will you give me some bullshit response about how the two are fundamentally different?
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Old 04-08-13, 11:18 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Supermallet View Post
No one here is arguing that farm animals should be treated inhumanely. What they are arguing about is the definition of humane.

But since you brought it up, yes, some animals are more equal than others. That's why it's easier to raise money for the preservation of furry animals, or large animals, over things like fish or insects. People spend millions of dollars trying to preserve pandas, a species that is not dying due to lack of space or resources, but is dying because they backed themselves into an evolutionary corner and the females are so picky they reject most possible mates. Meanwhile deforestation in South America is wiping out untold amounts of species. So, yeah, some animals are more equal than others.
You just illustrated my point. The love for the panda is emotional, not logical. Scientists and serious conservationists don't judge an animal based on subjective criteria such as cuteness. They are more concerned with its role in the ecosystem, its medicinal and research potential, etc. Of course, it could be argued that pandas help bring in money for protection of other animals, but that's a separate issue.

Should we give up trying to save the panda? at BBC.co.uk

A survey of about 600 scientists published this week found that a majority think it's time to consider conservation triage - focusing resources on animals that can realistically be saved, and giving up on the rest.
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Old 04-08-13, 11:21 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Farm animals are not in danger of going extinct precisely because humans have use for them in large numbers.
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Old 04-08-13, 11:55 PM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Objectively, the difference between an unborn baby 30 seconds before birth and 30 seconds after birth is nothing other than location.
I agree with you. Generally speaking, I believe that abortion is wrong. And I believe that late-term abortions should be illegal.

I also agree that the abortion issue as a whole (but NOT the scenario above) is somewhat subjective, like many other issues. People in both camps make some good points.

As I've stated in other threads, I am pro-life across the board. So even though I am biased, like all people, I do try to be somewhat consistent.

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Old 04-09-13, 01:12 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Objectively, the difference between an unborn baby 30 seconds before birth and 30 seconds after birth is nothing other than location.
You have to draw the line somewhere, and which side of the **** you're on is as good a one as any.
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Old 04-09-13, 01:30 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Supermallet View Post
Farm animals are not in danger of going extinct precisely because humans have use for them in large numbers.
If it weren't for farming, then certain animals like cattle and pigs could very well be in danger of becoming extinct. If these animals were not being bred for food, then there aren't a lot of habitats that are suited for them. And free-roaming large livestock like cattle, bison, and horses would pose a huge danger on the road.
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Old 04-09-13, 06:05 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
You have to draw the line somewhere, and which side of the **** you're on is as good a one as any.
Can't argue with that.
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Old 04-09-13, 07:54 AM
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Re: Taping of Farm Cruelty is Becoming the Crime

So this is what we're worried about?

Not stuff like the federal government prosecuting and cracking down on whistle blowers who might reveal illegal/etc activity in our government spy agencies, important things like that, but the farm animal stuff?

By golly the American public has its eye on the ball as usual!

BTW, as long as idiotic Americans will shove anything in their face that is sold to them, and stupidly mock anyone who questions the food supply, 'whistle blowing' about such things won't overcome the propaganda anyway.
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