Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Supreme Court HAD TOO Crush Animal Cruelty Law, Lawmakers, Congress, Goofed

Well the wait is over. For those of you who, like myself, have been waiting with baited breath IN FEAR of the outcome of this case that is so very important in our fight to make "animal cruelty entertaintment" productions illegal. One form of this type of entertainment is called "crush videos," and prior to 1999, they have been showing up on the internet and in magazines where sick people,usually women garbed in spiked high-heels and other trappings of the sexually oriented sado-masichistic genre', are shown getting their "sexual delights" in stomping and stabbing to death small animals like kittens, rabbits, hamsters, etc. These depictions show torture & cruelty for the sheer sake of torture and cruety and have NO redeeming value whatsoever. Few, if any, (only the depraved & indifferent) would argue that this kind of entertainment (cruelty for cruelty's sake) is NOT detrimental to society on the whole, for any "rational or reasonable mind" could see it truely is, particularly as effects our children, for they are not immune from exposure to this kind of horrific sensless cruelty.

Because so much of this type of animal cruelty depiction started circulating around in public forums such as the internet and magazines, in 1999 Congress passed a Federal Law in efforts to prohibit exactly this kind of "animal cruelty entertainment."

Here is the text of that 1999 Federal Law; with my annotations in red w/ parenthsis;

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 3 > § 48

§ 48. Depiction of animal cruelty

(a) Creation, Sale, or Possession.— Whoever knowingly creates, sells, or possesses a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

(From the reading I am getting of sec.a (above,) it seems as if the law is applying only to interstate and foreign commerce. Does this mean that if the "depictions" are produced and REMAIN within the producing state, they are exempt from this law? Moreover, "commercial gain" should not have been a factor, as what does it matter if the production was intended for someones personal gain or not? Intentional, malicious cruelty for the pure sake of cruelty is the issue here,... and should have nothing to do with any benefit or not that the producer may realize after the fact of production. The way this law is written, it would allow for publication of intentional, malicious cruelty acts to be published, as long as there was no commercial gain involved. How many people do you know that "gain commercially" from posting their vids on YouTube? A few maybe, but not many, I'll bet. )

(b) Exception.— Subsection (a) does not apply to any depiction that has serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value .

c) Definitions.— In this section—

(1) the term “depiction of animal cruelty” means any visual or auditory depiction, including any photograph, motion-picture film, video recording, electronic image, or sound recording of conduct in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed, intentionally if such conduct is illegal under Federal law or the law of the State in which the creation, sale, or possession takes place, regardless of whether the maiming, mutilation, torture, wounding, or killing took place in the State; and

(It is apparent from a reading of sec. C (1) (above) there is allowance for cruelty of the type IF legal in the respective states or not prohibited by Federal law. One can only assume they mean "legal cruelty" like hunting, farm-factory type cruelty, rodeos, etc. So if the act of cruelty is not prohibited by any law, it wouldnt be prosecutable under this law, so calm down those engaged in "legal" animal cruelty. You would have been safe in your operations under this law.

Two Kinds of Intent: General and Specific (What the lawmakers failed to consider)

GENERAL: The law here as written requires only a "general - intent," to do something, ...in this case, cause an animal harm. The problem with "general intent" in this law is that people intentionally harm animals all the time. Harsh training methods (that may or may not be legal) is just one example. Tail docking and ear cropping is another, as laws pertaining to this practice vary from state to state. Although cruel, THE INTENTION of the act is not TO BE cruel, but to achieve some other goal.

SPECIFIC intent requires that the actor intended to achieve some result additional to the act in itself. This is in order to prove all the elements needed to be found guilty of the crime. It differs from general intent, which only requires proof that the actor intented to do the prohibited act. For example, the crime of larceny requires not only the general intent to take property, but also the specific intent to permanently deprive another of the property.

In this light, the law in question here would have been better written under a "specific-intent," requirement,...having to find that the actor not only intended to harm the animal, but intended to harm it cruely and maliciously for the sole purpose of being cruel and malicous. Hense, this law is FAR TOO BROAD, lacking in specifity and could very easily be mis-applied.

This law, as written, fails to call into question or to consider the full spectrum of the actors mindset (mens rea) which would illuminate the true or full intentions of the actor in so acting. That is precisely what makes this law so OBSCURE and VAGUE , and therefore, Un-Constutitional. In this light, the High Court had no other choice but to rule the way they did and void this obscure law. So are we mad? Hell yeah WE ARE, but dont blame the judges of the Supreme Court. The blame lays squarely on the asinine lawmakers who wrote such a law and on an asinine Congress who ratified it.)

(Additionally, , IF ONLY the "specific-intent" requirement was used instead of the "general" intent" - there would be less confusion and thus, NO NEED for any exemptions!!)

(2) the term “State” means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.

Supreme Court Kills Animal Cruelty Law

Taren Reed, NewsRunner Pub., Created: 4/20/2010 12:22:56 PM Updated: 4/20/2010 12:27:43 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court by an 8-1 vote Tuesday struck down a federal law that makes it a crime to sell videos and other depictions of animal cruelty, saying the law infringed on free speech rights.

"We read (the law) to create a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, noting that nowhere in the disputed law was there a requirement that the depicted conduct actually be "cruel."

The text of the law, used to prosecute a Virginia man who had advertised videos of dogfights in an underground magazine, sweepingly covered "any depiction" in which "a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed." (add,...for sheer pleasure and/or malicious intent)

Yet as the justices struck down that prohibition, they specifically said they were not deciding the validity of a law that would target only so-called "crush videos," which typically show women's high heels digging into kittens and other small animals and which had inspired Congress to write the 1999 law in the first place.

Robert Stevens, who had run a business known as "Dogs of Velvet and Steel," appealed his conviction under the law, saying it violated his First Amendment speech rights. He also contended he was trying to provide educational and historical materials about the pit bull breed, not promoting illegal dogfighting.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit threw out his conviction, finding that the law was unconstitutional.

In spurning the Department of Justice's appeal Tuesday, the high court rejected the government's arguments across the board.

The majority forcefully denied the primary claim that animal cruelty, as a class, is not protected by the First Amendment, as obscenity, for example, is not. Roberts said past court cases provide no grounds for carving out a new categorical exception to speech rights, and he deemed the government's argument for more limited First Amendment coverage "startling and dangerous."

Roberts noted that while the 1999 law does not require the conduct depicted to be cruel, it must be "illegal." Yet, Roberts wrote, "There are myriad federal and state law concerning the proper treatment of animals, but many of them are not designed to guard against animal cruelty. Protections of endangered species, for example, restrict even the humane wounding or killing of living animals."

Roberts also swatted away government arguments that federal prosecutors would only go after the most "extreme" cruelty. "This prosecution (in the case of Stevens) is itself evidence of the danger in putting faith in government representations of prosecutorial restraint."

Only Samuel Alito dissented. He emphasized that the law was intended "to prevent horrific acts of animal cruelty - in particular, the creation and commercial exploitation of 'crush videos,' a form of depraved entertainment that has no social value."
Thank you Judge Alito for trying and being THE ONLY voice of dissent for the animals!

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