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Today we are releasing our Top 10 finalists for the Critters for Kennedy photo contest that we introduced here a few weeks ago.  We got some great photos and it was really difficult to narrow it down to just 10.  Voting begins at noon today online and ends at 11:59 pm Thursday.

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We've had a lot of fun with this contest, and it has generated a lot of excitement for our campaign. It also brought attention to a very serious issue.

One of our supporters came into our headquarters the day after we announced the contest and brought with them a copy of HR 5092, a bill in the House which would ban the sale of animal "crush" videos. These horrific videos show shocking scenes of women in high heels crushing small animals to death with their feet for the sexual gratification of viewers.

More than 330 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors to this legislation since it was introduced on April 21.  I know this won't surprise you, but my opponent Rep. Virginia Foxx isn’t one of them.

In April, the United State Supreme Court struck down a 1999 federal law known as the Crush Act which banned the sale of crush videos, saying that the legislation was too broad and infringed on free speech rights. HR 5092, introduced after the ruling, amends the Crush Act to add certain protections for hunters and sportsmen.  Opponents of the original Crush Act argued that the legislation put hunters at risk of federal prosecution for the production and sale of videos involving hunting, fishing, trapping and other legal sports activities.

Hunters and other sportsmen are in support of the amendment, including the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, crediting the bill’s author for tackling animal cruelty while preserving hunter’s rights.

"No one supports malicious cruelty to animals of the sort depicted in these ‘crush videos,’ but we also want to be sure that legal activities like hunting are not blackballed by a law that is too vague," said Bill Horn, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance director of federal affairs. "We are glad that HR 5092 addresses legitimate animal cruelty issues without penalizing honest sportsmen."

I challenge Congresswoman Foxx to support this bill, and if not, I'm sure everyone would love to know why she won't.

This bill only highlights why the people of NC-05 would have better representation in DC with me as their Congressman.  Please vote in the contest, and then please, if you can, help to support my efforts to reach the voters of NC-05.

Originally posted to Billy Kennedy on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:47 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks (10+ / 0-)

    for your support.
     title=

    You can follow me on Twitter, you can follow my staff on Twitter or you can like us on Facebook.

    http://www.billykennedyforcongress.com

    by Billy Kennedy on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:47:15 AM PDT

  •  I don't know of a single hunter or sportsman (6+ / 0-)

    who crushes the animals they kill -- never heard of that even once in my life! I watch hunting shows all the time on TV in Kentucky and they use guns, bows and arrows, fishing poles and hooks, traps, and sometimes their hands (noodling), but I've never heard of anyone ever crushing their kill.   The Supreme Court must be thinking of somebody else's rights who might be infringed if they couldn't make and distribute crush videos.

    2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

    by Silverbird on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:57:48 AM PDT

  •  My Congresscritter is a sponsor of the (5+ / 0-)

    latest crush bill -- one of the few good things he does.

    Dems go big on climate, GOP apologizes to BP/twittering @RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 09:06:39 AM PDT

  •  I'm pleased to see that my congressman (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, Amber6541, Billy Kennedy

    is a co-sponsor; I wouldn't have been surprised if he and Foxx were on the same side - they usually are.

    For anyone interested, the co-sponsor list is here.

    "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Anne Lamott

    by MsWings on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 09:18:58 AM PDT

  •  While I certainly don't support the video... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tle

    content, is this really all that widespread a problem? I have doubts about that.

    Furthermore, why can't the people involved in making these videos simply be charged with animal cruelty? Why do we also need to ban the speech associated with their cruelty to animals? Is what they're doing illegal under existing cruelty laws (ie, do those laws apply to small animals, rather than just companion animals and such)? If it's not, I think I would be more supportive of broadening the anti-cruelty statutes to cover more kinds of animals than I would be of trying to restrict speech (even for a good reason). And I don't think that the sexual context is necessarily a good reason to ban the behavior (ie, why is it legal to crush a small animal with a mousetrap, but not for sexual gratification)? It appalls me too, but if it's cruel to hurt animals for sexual gratification (and I agree that it is), then it's also cruel to hurt them for other reasons.

    I'm not 100% unsupportive of your idea on this, but I can think of some valid and reasonable objections.

    •  johnva: the people involved (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, MKSinSA, Amber6541

      intentionally mask their surroundings.
      The jurisdiction in which they commit the act of cruelty, without a law to make the filming and distribution of the act itself a crime, is often indeterminable, and thus they escape prosecution.

      It's porn. I have no doubt it will find a market.

      Charges of animal cruelty have failed at least twice because, according to the decisions rendered, the animals died quickly enough not to qualify as being tortured.

      Think on that a moment if you will.

      "It's not like they were starved to death over a long period of time, or died of neglect or illness. They didn't suffer."

      Bullshit like that is used in defense of this criminal cruelty, and it persuades some people.

      Texas is NO Bush League! LBJ, Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 10:57:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the problem is enforcement... (0+ / 0-)

        and the difficulty of tracking the perpetrators down, then I'm not sure that banning the videos will be any easier. You'd be punishing the people who distribute them, sure, but would that be the people who actually made them? They're the ones who most need to be punished.

        (Disclaimer: I'm somewhat playing devil's advocate here. I am responding to the diary's title statement about "why would anyone NOT support this bill".)

        Banning the speech seems like a very authoritarian, and very ineffective, solution to me. Furthermore, if the acts themselves are technically not even illegal (because the animal cruelty laws don't allow prosecution in these cases, as you said), then I REALLY am unsure about banning it. That's a big difference from say, child porn, where the production of the videos is inherently highly illegal and prosecutable. Now, I think it's fairly messed up that animal cruelty laws apparently are not strong enough to prohibit this behavior, as I do think it's needlessly cruel. But I have some discomfort for restrictions on speech relating to a non-illegal act just because I personally have a moral problem with it and am "squicked out" by it. I don't much like the idea of killing mice for pest control, either, but I don't see how you're going to make a distinction between that and this unless the whole goal is specifically to prohibit the sexual aspect of it rather than the killing/cruelty aspect. That's what I'm concerned about with this approach, and why I would rather favor some sort of strengthening of the animal cruelty laws rather than a blanket prior restraint on speech.

        •  first, it's not "speech" that's banned (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greengemini, MKSinSA, Amber6541

          it's titillation via murder. It's death porn, for money's sake.

          It's not that the animal cruelty laws themselves are not strong enough -- you didn't address the point I made about the producers' intentional screening of where they were when they did the acts in question, which makes locating them and determining the jurisdiction in which to file and pursue the charges difficult if not impossible.

          It's that these scum -- and in that term I include the suitor whose success led to the overturn of the law -- are trying to profit from death and bloodshed of animals. Not merely the small animals crushed by women in high heels, but the dogs, bears, and other animals in pit-fighting "contests" these verminous excuses for human beings promote.

          Texas is NO Bush League! LBJ, Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 11:19:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Emotional appeals... (0+ / 0-)

            don't work on me. I'm trying to be dispassionate about my feelings on it here. I agree that they are probably sick scum, but that's not really relevant, in my mind, as to whether or not it should be illegal. And it IS speech, regardless of whether you like it or not. Even child porn is speech: it's just speech that isn't constitutionally protected. So the legal question, I believe, is not whether or not it's speech: it's whether it's protected speech or not.

            Is your concern basically that you want SOMEONE to be punished over these videos? And since we can't find the people who make them, we should punish the people who distribute them instead? If that's the case, I can see where our disagreement is. I have a problem with the underlying act, but I don't really have a problem with the speech part of it. I view those as two completely separate things, whereas you seem to believe they are totally inseparable. I'm not sure I'm convinced of that, especially given that I take any restriction on free speech extremely seriously (I think it's only warranted in absolutely extreme cases, not just where we find the speech disgusting). Just as an example, a lot of people would view gay porn the same way: so you can see the danger involved in allowing government to have power over that sort of speech.

            BTW, it's not just me that's concerned with the free speech issues involved here. A lot of respectable journalistic and publishing groups filed an amicus brief against the law that was recently overturned. I'm not certain that there's no way to constitutionally ban the distribution of these videos, but we have to do it carefully so that people's speech rights are respected.

            •  No, my concern is that I want the profitability (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              greengemini, MKSinSA

              removed from this filth.
              Whether it be some pornographer's profits realized by feeding a sickness in some pre-serial-killer's sexual dysfunctionality via selling that consumer a video on the obscene crushing of small creatures for titillation's sake,

              or the profits some dogfighter makes on selling videos of his viciousness for fun and money,

              I neither care nor quibble.

              This is the very definition of obscenity.

              Texas is NO Bush League! LBJ, Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees -7.50,-5.59

              by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 11:54:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's not that black-and-white for me. (0+ / 0-)

                Sorry. Like I said, I'm concerned with the freedom of speech issues surrounding the idea of banning something as "obscenity" just because most people find it sick, cruel, or deviant. Especially when no laws are apparently being violated during its creation. (On that grounds, the dogfighting videos would be less defensible.) All kinds of porn is considered deviant and sick by some people, so I'm concerned about using that aspect as the main criteria here. Freedom of speech, though, is not just about speech that we like.

                •  do you not get the difference between speech (0+ / 0-)

                  and behavior?

                  Do you not understand the need to stop this stuff from being profitable?

                  Or do you regard porn based on killing animals as acceptable?

                  If even your point of view finds the dogfighting not acceptable, how is it acceptable for the USSC to overturn the whole of the law based on a dogfighter's complaint?

                  Texas is NO Bush League! LBJ, Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees -7.50,-5.59

                  by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 12:51:57 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand the difference perfectly. (0+ / 0-)

                    You're the one who is saying there is no difference. This law is about speech (and whether distributing certain kinds of videos counts as free speech), not about whether dogfighting or killing small animals is cruelty. These are two completely separate issues: first, whether or not it is cruelty to animals (I believe it is), and second, whether or not it is constitutionally protected speech to distribute video of it (I'm less sure about this part).

                    I get the whole argument about how we need to cut off the economic incentives, but I don't find that very convincing because a) I don't believe that economic incentives are the primary reasons for this kind of behavior, and b) I'm not convinced that the proposed speech restrictions will successfully cut off the flow of money (due to the same lack of enforceability that you say is a problem associated with enforcing cruelty laws in the first place). In reality, I think what's going on is that people just want to ban something because it makes them squeamish.

                    I don't agree that killing animals is "murder", btw (that term should be reserved for human beings). I do believe that killing animals purely for sexual titillation is unjustifiable, however. My main problem with it is that it is not respectful of the creature's right to live, not that it is murder (for example, I don't believe there is anything wrong with hunting or fishing and killing an animal that you then eat and treat respectfully).

                    •  see, being human, I'm an omnivore (0+ / 0-)

                      but I maintain that the behavior towards animals in these videos is not merely cruel, but abhorrent.

                      I will not argue with you about a definition for murder; I will ask if you would consider the animals slain in the making of these videos to have their lives wasted.

                      If so, is that reason enough to oppose the production, possession, sale and distribution of materials glorifying the waste of life for the purpose of sexual gratification?

                      And if not why oppose, then, any snuff video?

                      Texas is NO Bush League! LBJ, Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees -7.50,-5.59

                      by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 01:21:31 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  "Abhorrent' is subjective. (0+ / 0-)

                        One person's obscene act is another person's harmless act. I'm not at all defending what they're doing, not at all. I think it's repulsive and wrong, because I agree with you that it's senseless killing that doesn't serve a reasonable purpose.

                        However, I think that laws going so far as to outlaw the "possession, sale, and distribution" of videos of this type are a completely different issue, because I think that the act of distributing (or particularly, possessing) the video is different from the act of producing one. The difference isn't so much one of morality (which I would guess is why you seem to believe I'm conflating the two) so much as it's a difference in government authority. Government certainly would have the authority to ban the production of these videos, in my view. But whether they can write a law that bans their possession without being overbroad? Very questionable, in my mind. Speech is different from behavior, and the only time the government should have authority to outright ban speech is when it creates an imminent danger to other people, etc, or a few other rather narrow exceptions. This is a unique and exceptional "corner case", in my view, given that you're discussing banning depictions of an act that government apparently doesn't even consider worthy of making illegal (again, unlike snuff films, and unlike child porn). I don't agree that it shouldn't be illegal, but that's apparently how the laws are currently written. So it seems odd to me to want to ban something that is even more removed from the original behavior that government doesn't deem illicit (eg, the possession of said videos).

                        •  so to get your support a law stopping selling (0+ / 0-)

                          this type of porn would have to follow on a law making creating this type of porn illegal?

                          Texas is NO Bush League! LBJ, Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees -7.50,-5.59

                          by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 02:49:18 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't think it's unreasonable... (0+ / 0-)

                            to say that a secondary offense (removed by a few degrees) from the original act should not be punished more severely than the original act.

                          •  so how do we get the specific original act made (0+ / 0-)

                            illegal? Wouldn't that be more difficult than reinstating the law the dogfighter got overturned?

                            Texas is NO Bush League! LBJ, Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees -7.50,-5.59

                            by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 06:31:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

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