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Absurd Supreme Court Challenge On Animal Cruelty

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Ever heard of a "crush" video? Me neither. Until I read about a case in which the Supreme Court will decide later this year whether selling videos of dog fights is constitutionally protected free speech.

Of course it is not protected. But let's get back to crush videos (in which small animals are crushed) for the moment. Congress banned them in 1999--and all video depictions of unlawful cruelty to animals. Good move, Congress.

Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia has overturned the law, ruling, in the case of a man selling dog fight videos, that dog fight videos are constitutionally protected free speech. What a bunch of poppycock! And even the Bush administration Justice Department, which appealed the Third Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court, agrees with me (how bizarre!).

Apparently free-speech zealots are tied up in knots over this one. Heaven knows why. First, "selling" videos is a commercial venture, and the courts have always awarded less protection to commercial speech than to free (political) speech. Second, study after study has shown that people who engage in animal cruelty go on to act out their mental illnesses on people, so it's better to "nip" these fetishes in the bud.

A ruling allowing sadistic vendors to sell videos of animal cruelty would only further other criminals' future careers as domestic violence perpetrators and murderers. New York Times reporter Adam Liptak wrote:

Before the 1999 law was enacted, according to the Humane Society of the United States, there were some 2,000 crush videos available in the marketplace, for $15 to $300 each. After 1999, said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, chief counsel of the Humane Society, that market all but disappeared.

But since July, Mr. Lovvorn said, crush videos have "popped back up on the Internet as a result of the Third Circuit's ruling."

Mr. Lovvorn provided a reporter with links to two examples, one involving a kitten, the other a puppy. May you never see them.

He's right.

--Read more by Bonnie Erbe.

--Read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

--Read more about animal cruelty.

By Bonnie Erbe

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