Animal Cruelty as Free Speech

Friday, April 23, 2010


This week, the Supreme Court ruled that visual depictions of “animal cruelty” – however objectionable they may be – are protected free speech and that a federal statute criminalizing possession of such material is unconstitutional. University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone says that those of us who support a robust First Amendment (you too, animal lovers!) should applaud this decision.

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Comments [14]

Shirley Lowenstein from Bronx, N,Y.

Supreme Court rulings on free speech do not say that the action is good. It only says that the government can't make laws making these actions or words or pictures a crime. Many comments show confusion on this issue. Animal cruelty is disgusting and wrong, but should someone downloading such pictures be sent to prison for twenty or even five years? Would that make sense? Also, where are the scientific studies showing that performing or watching animal cruelty leads to human murder?

Mar. 30 2011 11:17 AM
Brianna Okamoto from broadcasting.

Animal cruelty should fall under the same circumstances as child molesting. If you film it and sell it you are encouraging it to be done. The state should be able to use the video footage as evidence against the people who post them.

Feb. 01 2011 11:24 AM
Jan Baker from Chicago, USA

Well, once they go through the first amendment arguments, maybe they'll turn to freedom of religion. That's playing so well these days.

Nov. 03 2010 05:25 PM
Leah Durner from New York

These videos are visual records of the commission of an illegal act--abuse of animals. The videos are NOT protected under the first amendment such as a fictional portrayal of such an act or description of such an act would be.

This ruling demonstrates an inability to understand the important distinction between recording the actual commission of an illegal act and the fictional portrayal of an illegal act.

May. 29 2010 07:10 PM
Laura R Benedetto from Long Island

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mahatma Gandhi

Enough said. We suck.
If we can't protect the weakest of beings... we are not worth anything! The Supreme Court is just not in tough with the realities of today. Do they actually know that, people that torture animals, and get off on doing this are probably serial killers in the making? Serial Killers start practicing with animals first. Check your history!

May. 03 2010 12:30 PM
Bree Gassner from Colorado

Animal cruelty is completely sick and discusting. There's no doubt in my mind that anyone who is even remotely involved in these kinds of activities is a sick, twisted, fucked up individual.

Apr. 28 2010 01:27 AM
Lauren Dominick

I'll say it before and I will say it again. Animal Cruelty is wrong! I don't care if you see the animal cruelty taking place or if you see a "depiction" of animal is all wrong. If you have participated, or been around and not stopped the act you are just as much guilty.

Apr. 27 2010 05:08 PM
Jackie Perea

It is understandable that someone would argue that selling videos of animal cruelty is not the same as the actual act of it, however I still aplaud this decision that this was ruled unconstitional. Movies that show illegal things like murder, drug abuse, etc., which is why i would agree that it is not that same as actually comitting the crime, and it is accepted in movies. On the other hand I dont think that videos of the crimes being committed in real life should be accepted because it does "encourage and create a market" for what is illegal.

Apr. 26 2010 10:37 PM
Larry McHenry from Pensacola, FL

I find it very shaky ground indeed to compare the Pentagon Papers to this kind of prurient product. It's also naive, at best, to think that people who market this kind of product, when they see that it sells, won't stage and record their own fights, crushings, etc., to become purveyors themselves. I'm quite liberal on what the First Amendment's umbrella covers, but I really don't see how child pornography doesn't pass muster and these sorts of things do.

Apr. 26 2010 09:03 PM

I think that being able to post these kinds of pictures is terrible but there is a fine line with this ammendment. Anyone who would find reasoning in posting or allowing these posts needs to think of how this could affect people. Especially children who might stumble upon them.

Apr. 26 2010 02:09 PM
Judith Margolis from tamarac, florida

This Supreme Court decision is just further evidence to me of a dumbing down of our society. Anything goes and becomes deserving of some sort of acceptance and even praise, no matter how low the level of behavior.

Apr. 26 2010 01:48 PM
Heather Humphrey from Binghamton, NY

It's illegal to molest children and kill people also, should it be considered free speech to possess video of those acts? This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I do not believe this is how the First Amendment was meant to be interpreted.

Apr. 26 2010 01:37 PM
Malcolm Johnson

I think that having pictures or videos of animals fighting each other and bashing each other's heads in is horrible and someone that has these things in their possession should go somewhere and get looked at. Supporting something like that is horrible and down right demented.

Apr. 25 2010 07:43 PM
Barry Cranmer from New Jersey

I am appalled you felt the need to include this in your broadcast which I heard a bit of this quiet Sunday morning.

My point is that I simply don't believe it is a good thing to spew such horrible details out over the airways when young children might be listening.

Has anyone on your staff ever thought what hearing such a report could do when it gets stuck in a child's head? Why do people crush animals and videotape them dying, Daddy?

Why do people like to watch dogs kill each other, Mommy?

Does everyone there want their children to hear such a report?

Yes, this kind of ugliness might need to be brought to the public's attention, but does it have to happen over the radio on an early time when kid's might be listening?

Does anyone think about consequences of their actions anymore?

By the way, after media reports about the dog fight conducting Philadelphia Eagles quarterback were broadcast, arrests of people holding dog fights have increased.

Think about it for just a few moments!

Apr. 25 2010 02:29 PM

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