Ag-gag bills make suffering easier to swallow

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cow animal abuse

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Laws making it illegal to document animal abuse or food-safety violations on farms are taking the nation by storm.

There’s nothing like a proposed ag-gag law in California to burst my little bubble of faith in a progressive-thinking state. I was floored when I got the email asking for an emergency donation to fight against a bill that would have made undercover investigations at farms or slaughterhouses impossible.

The bill was recently pulled by its symbolic author, Fresno Republican Rep. Jim Patterson, who was fully supported by our very own good ol’ boy club, the California Cattlemen’s Association. Patterson must have been feeling the heat as at least eight newspapers across the state, including the LA Times, wrote scathing criticisms of the bill.

So I can still go to the beach without feeling like I’m surrounded by complete ignoramuses who’d rather enjoy their 99 cent Whopper than be bothered by the loss of their First Amendment rights. We do get a lot of tourists from Tennessee, though, where a similar bill just passed the Senate and House and is expected to be signed by their governor.

The California bill, while not going as far as some other states – like in North Dakota, where no one can take any kind of photos or videos without the facility owner’s consent – would have required that anyone who documented animal abuse had to turn over the evidence to authorities within 48 hours, making it impossible to establish a pattern of abuse.

The California Cattlemen’s Association, a meat industry lobbying group, claims it just wants to make sure that if one of its innocent cows are being treated badly before being forced into a metal shute, hammered in the head, hoisted up by its back legs, skinned and dismembered, in many cases while still conscious, that the police know about it right away so the abuse can be stopped.

Anyone with half a brain can see that this disingenuous claim by the very people whose profits are based on the systematic abuse of animals who can’t speak up for themselves is really a desperate attempt hide the truth behind every package of animal flesh Americans choke down into their quietly hardening arteries.

It’s not surprising that people profiting off of cruelty want to make it as easy as possible to squeeze as much blood as they can from these animals.

What’s really scary is the fact that the American public has allowed six states to pass laws criminalizing whistleblowing on farms, and 10 more states introduced similar legislation this year. Looks like Americans would prefer to enjoy their steak and eggs with a little less guilt and a lot less freedom.

Obviously, the meat industry is trying to hide something, actually, everything. Time and again these videos are released to the media and the public is sickened by the cruelty.

In some cases, these undercover investigations have led to criminal convictions and meat being recalled in the name of public safety, like when an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States into a Southern California slaughter plant prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

But even more threatening to the meat industry than criminal abuse, which it can excuse away by blaming a few “bad apples” for being meanies, is the every-day, routine and industry-accepted procedures it uses to process the 10 billion fellow creatures unlucky enough to be exempted from our selective compassion.

This point is perfectly demonstrated by a Mercy for Animals undercover investigation into a pig farm which documented screaming piglets being killed by being slammed into the concrete. The public was outraged, of course. I mean, who doesn’t think baby piggies are cute? But industry reps and vets made us all feel better by explaining that because we don’t know about how to care for pigs, we don’t understand that is the nicest way to kill a sick baby pig.

Not only are our rights being taken away without much protest, but we’re also being told not to trust our instinct when we see something wrong.

Thank god the meat industry is here to protect us from ourselves.

  • Tina Page

    Tina is a journalist and mother of three who's lived all her life in the South Bay of Los Angeles except for a two-year stint in the heart of Spain. She believes humans have the capacity to make this a beautiful world for all species to live, and mothers have a special charge to raise their children to enjoy, love and respect all creatures.

1 thought on “Ag-gag bills make suffering easier to swallow”

  1. Ag Gag laws blind consumers to what they’re consuming, whether it be animal abuse, the violation of worker rights, or environmental devastation. These are all federal, not state issues. We should be rallying to fight them at the federal level since when social justice is left in the hands of the states we all know what happens. SIGN & SHARE the FEDERAL PETITION against Ag Gag laws at #AgGagBad


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