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April 23, 2010

Talk Back: Supreme Court Ruling Raises Ire

Earlier this week, the award-winning documentary "Food, Inc." ran on PBS stations across the nation, much to the chagrin of the Farm Bureau organizations throughout the country. That same night, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" had a compelling story line about a crime at a filthy and reckless slaughterhouse and showed some footage from our Westland/Hallmark investigation in Chino, Calif. To cap a rather remarkable week of television on animal issues, Animal Planet is set to broadcast the Genesis Awards on Saturday, April 24 at noon ET/PT and on April 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET/PT. The awards program recognizes the major media and entertainment industry for incorporating animal protection themes, and it provides an incredible summary of the major issues of the day on animal protection. If you're on Facebook, please RSVP there to say you'll be watching, and help us spread the word. Here’s a short video previewing the many celebrity presenters and honorees who were a part of this year's event. Consider it a must-see; I know you'll be inspired.

Gray kitten
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Also, I wanted to respond to so many of you who wrote in response to my blog about Tuesday's adverse U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, a 1999 law banning the commercial sale of videos showing illegal and malicious forms of animal cruelty. I am pleased to report that on Wednesday—the very day after the Court's ruling—a bipartisan group of more than 50 lawmakers introduced a new, narrowly crafted bill, H.R. 5092, to make it a crime to sell videos of criminal animal crushing. We believe the bill will pass constitutional muster, and it’s desperately needed given that these crush videos have repopulated the Web.

We most urgently need you to ask your U.S. representative to support this new legislation. Our thanks go to Reps. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), James Moran (D-Va.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) for introducing this legislation. We expect a companion bill in the Senate to be introduced soon.

Here are some of your reactions to the ruling.

My heart sank this morning when I picked up my L.A. Times and read that the Supreme Court had struck down the statute banning the sale of videos depicting animal cruelty. It is inconceivable to me that the court would rule that video of illegal activity could be considered free speech. … I agree wholeheartedly with the Honorable Samuel A. Alito Jr. when he stated that the statute was enacted not to suppress speech but to prevent horrific acts of animal cruelty. —Julie Quinones
I think the Humane Society is taking the right action against crush and other animal cruelty videos. Allowing such videos is not freedom of speech. It is freedom of brutality. —Magda
The only thing I can say is that this makes me want to cry. It's hard enough to protect and/or rescue animals from cruelty without something like this taking that goal a thousand steps backward. Shame on you Supreme Court. —Jeanne Stuart
I have never in my 50+ years been so upset by something our government has done to us. This has got to be one of the most ridiculous rulings in history. —CL Patterson
The suffering of innocent animals trumps free speech. No right should be limitless, and this is where I draw the line. —Katja Sipple
There is something wrong with a constitution that uses rights to inflict pain on others. It's time for responsible laws and responsible Justices. Speak all you want but not at the expense of others! —Fred Patterson
I was totally disgusted and shocked to find out that women being videotaped killing small animals by stepping on them in high heel shoes is legal because of this stupid decision. We are awful creatures to allow such horrible things. I did not even tell my family for it would sicken them so much. —K S
The statute may have been overly broad in the court's misguided opinion, but the ruling was even more overly broad. I thought the point of being a wise Supreme Court justice was not to fall for the slippery slope argument. The only recourse is to go back to Congress and pass a better law. I'm all for that and will sign petitions and write emails and letters to help the cause. Thank you for being on top of this. —Janet Vandenabeele
I was enraged when I saw the ruling on the news but it prompted me to visit the Humane Society website, read more about it and then I made a donation. I would like to get more involved in the prevention of cruelty to animals so if there is something else that can be done in addition to loving my own three pets and making a donation please let me know. Thanks so much for all the work you do. —Christina
The heartache I felt on hearing this decision by the Supreme Court with reference to animal cruelty videos was only tempered by the knowledge that there is a powerful group out there with the resources to change the wording on this and return it to the Congress and the court as soon as possible. We need to all rally behind the HSUS now and CONTRIBUTE, as much as possible, to help make this happen. You know that the disgusting people who make these videos will feel empowered to be more cruel than ever, and act quickly to profit from their sadistic acts of animal pain and abuse. —Diane McKeel
Thank you so much for your thoughts on this matter. I am particularly thankful that you've made discussion of this issue as high-profile as you have on your organization's website. Once again it falls to groups like yours to now take the lead in lobbying efforts and for that reason, it is now more important than ever to support HSUS! While it is certainly a blow to animals, it reminds us that the fight is never really over and that it remains our responsibility and our moral obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Thank you again and I'm in the fight with you! —JSJ
We keep playing these ridiculous games of words, these dodging games that let us live with what we know in our hearts is evil and cruel and just plain wrong! … If you can watch an animal being tortured or killed in a cruel manner and not have compassion then I say you are capable of heinous crimes against your fellow man. And shouldn't the courts be concerned with that? It should tell them something about where our society is going, where it has already gone. There is a large society of very greedy individuals out there with no moral compass and they are trying to force the rest of us to back their "rights" to do insufferable things to animals so that they can make money. Or be entertained. I say that the majority of us find it a crime and we should stand up and let the Supreme Court know exactly what we think. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing the same rhetoric over and over from these people who say it's their "right." There is no "right" in the "wrong" that they perpetuate against animals. —Kathleen Shecter

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