In a powerful piece titled "A Legal Assault on Animal-Abuse Whistle-Blowers?," Time.com reporter Alexandra Silver outlines the current attempts by the Ag Industry and pro-factory farm legislators in some states to make criminals out of those who would expose cruelty to farmed animals.
The article points out the glaring bias in the bills targeting those who expose animal abuse by comparing the proposed $1,000 fine and year in jail attached to the New York anti-whistleblower bill and the mere $555 fine and order not to have contact with animals for a year imposed upon Phil Niles, the man who was found guilty of cruelty to animals following an undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals at Willet Dairy in New York.
"In other words, someone who strikes a cow on the head, in clear violation of animal-cruelty laws, could receive a lighter punishment than someone who points a camera at the abuser," the author notes.
According to the article, Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann, who prosecuted Phil Niles and calls the anti-whistleblower bills "ludicrous," says that without the undercover video footage from Mercy For Animals, he would not have had a case. Without video evidence, Phil Niles would never have been brought to justice.
Due in part to vocal opposition from free speech and animal welfare advocates, and the failure of similar bills in Florida and Minnesota, the New York bill isn't expected to pass. The anti-whistleblower bill in Iowa, however, remains a threat to farmed animals and those who selflessly work to protect them.
The silver lining is that these misguided attempts to silence whistleblowers and protect animal abusers have generated a lot of mainstream media attention to the cruelty endured by animals raised for food and our moral obligation to protect them from abuse.
People have a right to know where their food comes from and farmed animals have a right to have their stories told. Video footage is the most powerful tool the animal rights movement has to expose the plight of farmed animals. What will you do to expose the truth? Here are some ideas to get you started.
TIME Magazine: End the Assault against Animal-Abuse Whistleblowers
by - June 17, 2011