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Supreme Court Decides Against the Animals

Wednesday morning my inbox was flooded with e-mails from animal welfare agencies and friends decrying the Supreme Court decision to legalize the sale of videos depicting animal cruelty. The case, United States Versus Stevens, challenges a 1999 law that made it illegal to create or sell videos depicting animal cruelty.

I’ve written about animal cruelty in the past, and while none of it makes sense to me. I just could not wrap my brain around this case.

A Recap
The case concerns Robert Stevens, who was convicted by a Pennsylvania jury for violating a 1999 federal law banning the sale of videos showing extreme and illegal acts of animal cruelty. Stevens was caught selling videos of pit bull fighting. He said his videos provided “a historical perspective on dog fighting.”

I didn’t know there was one–or that the sport (do you call it a sport?) has changed over the years. In all honesty, dog fighting is an act of violence. Stevens was found guilty and was sentenced to 37 months in jail. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down his conviction, and yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Court.

In my post, I quoted Laura Allen, Executive Director of the Animal Law Coalition. She states: “Possessing these films may not hurt the animal any longer, but that misses the point. The animal is harmed so that the film can be made and then sold for people to possess and watch it. Those possessing these films are actually supporting the creation of more of these films and more animal cruelty.”

Free Speech Versus Animal Rights
In a vote of 8 to 1, the majority said the law was too broad, and if it’s allowed to stand, it infringes on our First Amendment Rights. Tell that to the dogs, cats, and other small animals in these videos.

The only dissenting vote came from Justice Samuel Alito. He put the rights of animals ahead of freedom of speech. People who make, sell, and purchase these videos don’t care about freedom of speech. They care about profits at the expense of animals. The Supreme Court is protecting the people who create, sell, and buy these videos.

Justice Alito wrote that the animals in these crush videos “are living creatures that experience excruciating pain.” He also noted that striking down this law will likely spur a resumption of crush video production. Crush videos are too sickening to believe. They involve animal torture for sexual pleasure. Yes, there are some sick folks out there.

You Can Make A Difference
Please sign this petition, which will be forwarded to your Congressional representatives, and pass it on to all of your friends, family, and colleagues. Thanks to all of you for reading and helping the animals!

22 comments to Supreme Court Decides Against the Animals

  • It is unbelievable to me what people will tolerate in this country, yet still consider ourselves advanced in comparison to many other countries.

    Profit versus humanity, kindness, the heart of souls… it’s really sad.

  • It really is unbelievable. As I said in the post, I can’t wrap my brain around this. One glimmer of hope is to sign the petition. The link takes you to the petition written by Laura Allen of Animal Law Coalition.

  • Michele,
    I think this case does compare with others areas where free speech is limited, as is the case with child pornography.
    The majority of the court did not agree, but that majority is flatly wrong.
    Chief Justice Roberts rejected the comparison, noting it is “a special case” and stated the market for child pornography is “intrinsically related to the underlying abuse.”
    This is exactly why videos of dog fighting, crush videos and similar depictions need to be banned – because they are “intrinsically related to the underlying abuse.”
    How can he so badly miss the point.
    The Supreme Court is looking really wacky right now.

  • chris b

    One also wonders if the same benign attitude would be taken to those who might wish to propagate the terrorist activities that led to 9/11 in the US or 7/7 in the UK. Is the video production of a bomb making manual for terrorists or the depiction of US or UK troops being blown up by suicide squads exempt from banning under this idiotic rule! I get the impression that the whole of the Justice system both sides of the pond is more concerned with the rights of the criminal than the victims of such horrors! There is surely a time when free speech crosses the line in an incitement to undertake criminal activity whether animal or child abuse or the promotion of terrorist activity!

  • shirley

    Regarding Supreme court vote of 8 to 1, looks like there are 8 special needs people that need common sence help on “special cases”

  • chris b

    The following comment seems to have disappeared:”I wonder if these learned gentlemen would have made the same decision had the videos involved judges being mutilated or children! Such an out of context literal interpretation of the law and “Free speech” makes a mockery of all that is decent and honest and in my view is a travesty of natural justice, unshackling a Pandora’s box of deviant profiteers! These gentlemen of the law should be ashamed of themselves for permitting such vile an hateful material to be propagated by default! One wonders what they would tell their grandchildren should they come across such perverse material! Oh that’s OK son it’s “Free Speech” means you can do as you like!”

  • Incredibly whacky! Thanks Tom for providing an analogy that hopefully speaks to those who can change this way of thinking.

    For those of you who haven’t already help the cause and sign the petition.

  • Chris, I so agree with you and everyone who has commented here. I’m was also surprised that the only one who got it right was conservative Judge Samuel Alito. He was the only one who really understood the law.

  • How can they overturn this, when effectively they are in part showing it to us via the end product, when they display joints of meat on TV???!?!?!?! Such as the Bernard Matthews and Toby Carvery adverts…..and they talk about childhood obesity….the government are clueless!

  • Thanks Gary, Good points. I don’t watch a lot of TV–so I don’t know who Bernard Matthews and Toby Carvery are.

  • If it is against the law to hurt animals and commit animal cruelty, then how can it be okay to film it in the name of “free speech”. If that is the case where do they draw the line? Its okay to video a dog being killed, but not a human? A snuff video is a snuff video regardless of the species being harmed and/or killed. I appreciate you sharing this information on your blog. It is sad when people can’t see what is right in front of their noses.

  • wale

    Free Speech Versus Animal Rights
    WAR on Freedom to tortur and kill animals,to film it, make money on it, have sexual seek fucking kick of it. Are we crying og making war.

  • Unbelievable. Given all the evidence (actual cases, research, self-report) that links animal abuses to human abuses, how is it possible the Supreme Court made such a bad call? Oh, and not to mention that animal cruelty is simply and undeniable the manifestation of an unstable mind! And how are videos of animal cruelty acceptable exactly? Nothing like perpetuating the desensitization of our increasingly hardened society. Every day I shake my head in disbelief at some of the unconscious actions of humans. And then there are folks like you, of like-mind, with whom I find comfort. We just need more of us.

  • Andrea

    And what if it was child abuse or pornography, and children were being abused for sole purpose of creating entertainment and proffit??? Violence is violence, it does not matter toward WHO or WHAT. The act in itself is sick and to want to proffit from it and entertain yourself with it only makes society more SICK!!


    I AGREE WITH SHIRLEY !! THOSE 8 NEED A COMPLETE OVERHAUL OF THEIR MENTAL STATE !!Judge Samuel Alito. He was the only one who really understood the law. NOTHING NEW !! NOT SURPRISED ONE BIT !! I DEMAND RE APPEAL !

  • Jean

    I am appauled that the act of cruelty to animals is permitted in the United States and one is entertained by such acts. It is truly sad that there is a market for this type of trash media. My only hope is that there are more pet owners that cherish and love their pets, like I do, than to exploit them in favor of money and entertainment. To me, nothing is more satisfying than the ongoing unconditional love I receive from my two cats — Prince and Charlie.

  • Lauire

    Anyone who would hurt an animal will just as easily hurt a child or any other person! Evil is evil! I just don’t understand what goes on in the minds of people who do such things.

  • Laurie, I’m totally with you. There is no difference between hurting an animal or a child, and scientific studies shows that one often leads to the other.–Michele

  • Claudia Hendrikz

    Ridiculous. I am speechless at this decision.

  • I was stunned that the decision was so lopsided. It is unbelievable to me that the court believes it’s ok to exploit and harm animals and that the former ruling was overturned as “too broad.” Perhaps some caveats should have been added then to ensure that these videos (and violence) are not brought to market. Has the Court never heard of Michael Vick?

  • We need someone in office who will speak up for those who can’t