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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Court voids law aimed at animal cruelty videos

The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 20, 2010; 10:13 AM



WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court struck down a federal law Tuesday aimed at banning videos that show graphic violence against animals, saying it violates the right to free speech.

The justices, voting 8-1, threw out the criminal conviction of Robert Stevens of Pittsville, Va., who was sentenced to three years in prison for videos he made about pit bull fights.

The law was enacted in 1999 to limit Internet sales of so-called crush videos, which appeal to a certain sexual fetish by showing women crushing to death small animals with their bare feet or high-heeled shoes.

The videos virtually disappeared once the measure became law, the government argued.

But Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the law goes too far, suggesting that a measure limited to crush videos might be valid.

In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito said the harm animals suffer in dogfights is enough to sustain the law.

Alito said the ruling probably will spur new crush videos because it has "the practical effect of legalizing the sale of such videos."

Read more:

Supreme Court Overturns Animal Cruelty Video Ban: Ruling Could Spur New 'Crush' Videos
 

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Unfortunately dog fighting and chicken ( can't type you know what...) fighting were popular sports in colonial times so I doubt they would have voted to ban cruelty to animals. I saw a paintings at auction a couple years ago depicting a prize fighting bird and his owner and one in the same these with a prize fighting dog ,not show dog but fighting dog...dated sometime in the early 1800's...
Times have changed for the better now, at least some things..
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
O.K., so the video is leagal, but could it be used as evidence to charge them for animal cruelty?
The issue before the Court was not animal cruelty, but rather the marketing of the video depicting it. The video's producer did not commit the acts himself.

"Stevens' business, Dogs of Velvet and Steel, has been operated out of his rural Virginia home where he produced numerous videos about the animals.

In one video, Stevens, sitting in a rocking chair, talks about tapes shot in Japan in the early 1950s or 1960s. It is clear that Stevens is not taping the fight, but providing after-the-fact narration.

"I cannot emphasize enough that this video in no way promotes dogfighting or gambling," he said in one scene.

Stevens' lawyers had argued he included the violent, but apparently bloodless, footage to represent what he sees as the admirable traits of the breed.

His narration does provide a play-by-play of the dogs fighting each other. At one point Stevens says, "You know who my pick is."

Stevens marketed his films on his Web site, pitbulllife.com.

The violent depictions in the videos are what landed Stevens in trouble with animal rights organizations under federal law.

He was convicted and sentenced to 37 months imprisonment for violating a 1999 federal law that prohibits "knowingly selling depictions of animal cruelty, with the intention of placing them in interstate commerce." The law was passed to target the problem of animal cruelty. "



Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Animal Cruelty, Dog Fighting Videos - ABC News
 

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That seriously pisses me off and is faulty logic... free speech could also be pedophilia or murder or whatnot even though those are also against the law (as is animal cruelty)... they have degrees of what law breaking is lawful or free speech. I am just so p.o.'d I can't hardly stand it :( :( :(
 

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That seriously pisses me off and is faulty logic... free speech could also be pedophilia or murder or whatnot even though those are also against the law (as is animal cruelty)... they have degrees of what law breaking is lawful or free speech. I am just so p.o.'d I can't hardly stand it :( :( :(
No, this is not faulty logic. All speech are not equal, nor are they all "free." The First Amendment of our constitution does not offer equal protection to all speech. Some speech more more protected than other forms. Therefore, speech about pedophilia would NOT be given the same protection under the law as speech about political views. Same as how obscenity is not given the same protection as speech about religious practices. To fully understand the First Amendment analysis, it requires much more complex explanation and discussion to fully appreciate how our Courts have interpreted its meaning and application; much more complex than I can give over the forum. But, I hope my short version helped a bit.
 

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No, this is not faulty logic. All speech are not equal, nor are they all "free." The First Amendment of our constitution does not offer equal protection to all speech. Some speech more more protected than other forms. Therefore, speech about pedophilia would NOT be given the same protection under the law as speech about political views. Same as how obscenity is not given the same protection as speech about religious practices. To fully understand the First Amendment analysis, it requires much more complex explanation and discussion to fully appreciate how our Courts have interpreted its meaning and application; much more complex than I can give over the forum. But, I hope my short version helped a bit.
I am curious though. Do you see that a law like this might fall under the same kind of restrictions that obscenity does?

I read an article on this tonight and part of the reason the court ruled the way it did was because the law could be applied too broadly.

The opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the law, with a maximum punishment of five years, was primarily aimed at curbing "crush videos," which show the torture or killing of helpless animals and have sexual appeal to some viewers.

The person who made these videos claimed he did so for "journalistic" reasons.

"I have not nor have I ever been a dogfighter or a promoter of dogfighting. I am a journalist and an author, and I'd like to thank deeply the very talented attorney," Stevens said.

While I totally abhor the idea that people buy these videos for voyeuristic reasons, I think it is interesting to note that the court ruled in an 8-1 decision (with Alito the only dissenter). Based on that, it seems that perhaps the issue was decided on the basis of a question of the way the law was written, rather than an ideology of the court.
 

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I am curious though. Do you see that a law like this might fall under the same kind of restrictions that obscenity does?

I read an article on this tonight and part of the reason the court ruled the way it did was because the law could be applied too broadly.

The opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the law, with a maximum punishment of five years, was primarily aimed at curbing "crush videos," which show the torture or killing of helpless animals and have sexual appeal to some viewers.

The person who made these videos claimed he did so for "journalistic" reasons.

"I have not nor have I ever been a dogfighter or a promoter of dogfighting. I am a journalist and an author, and I'd like to thank deeply the very talented attorney," Stevens said.

While I totally abhor the idea that people buy these videos for voyeuristic reasons, I think it is interesting to note that the court ruled in an 8-1 decision (with Alito the only dissenter). Based on that, it seems that perhaps the issue was decided on the basis of a question of the way the law was written, rather than an ideology of the court.
Hi Carina, I am sorry, what law are you referring to? My comment was about the First Amendment. Is there a specific state law you are referring to? Thanks.
 

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Sorry I was referring to the specific statute the guy supposedly violated.
OK, my fault: i didnt read the article til just now...hehe..

Based from my understanding of the First Amendment, the courts first look at the law to see if it is content based (applies strict scrutiny) or content neutral (applies intermediate).

So, according to the link Marj provided, the law in question is:
"The law was enacted in 1999 to limit Internet sales of so-called crush videos, which appeal to a certain sexual fetish by showing women crushing to death small animals with their bare feet or high-heeled shoes."

This law to me seems content BASED, therefore the court would apply strict scrutiny, which is a very very harsh standard to meet.

Second, aside from the content based vs content neutral analysis, courts also apply other "tests" such as vagueness, over breadth as well as the "3 prong" obscenity speech/ sexually oriented sppech test...... Now, argubaly, the law can be viewed as sexually oriented, which would make it "less protected" but THEN, under that analysis, we need to apply the "3 prong" test..... I can go on and on about all these but I dont think many on SM are really that interested in the details of the law..lol.....if you are interested, send me a PM and I can discuss the 3 prong analysis for obscenity /sexually oriented speech.


hope that helped a bit!
 
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