Saturday, April 16, 2011

More States Create Anti-Whistleblower Bills

Here we go again! If you thought the recent legislation to criminalize those who film or photograph farm activity in states like Florida and Iowa is coincidental, it’s not. Similar bills are in process in Idaho and Minnesota, and other states are considering legislative action as well. Giant corporations like Monsanto are throwing money behind the Iowa version and possibly more in order further secure their “crop operations.” Minnesota is at least the fourth state to introduce anti-whistleblower legislation. They got it from Iowa who got it from Florida. In the Minnesota bill, even just possessing undercover documentation of farm operations would be illegal. How they can enforce a law like that without invading people’s privacy, I do not know. These bills threaten to punish anyone who dares to highlight questionable behavior towards animals, seed and produce, sanitation and employees. “We think it would be an important deterrent tool in our toolbox against trespassers,” says Daryn McBeth, president of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council. People, there are already strict trespassing and theft laws. Big Ag has all the legal recourse needed to sue or punish those who obtain footage of their operations, so why don’t they? Can you imagine dragging an activist into court and saying to the judge, “Look, he found out we were throwing live chickens into a grinder and put it on the internet. This violates my intellectual property rights!” No, their solution to the bad PR is slapping the whistleblowers with a major felony and throwing them in a cage with rapists, murders, and armed robbers. So they make the act of discovery into a crime to preclude such discoveries instead of accounting for their crimes, which, by the way, they believe to be perfectly acceptable industry standards. Since when is crying foul on criminal behavior like animal abuse and breaking regulations considered a crime? Any law that imprisons you by superceding your constitutional rights is null and void. But that isn’t going to touch Mr. Policeman when you explain as he hauls you away. Laws are laws, intentions are irrelevant to a judge. That’s what makes them so dangerous to your rights. You may think it only applies to those overzealous “tree hugger” types, but no, it means you too! Ironically, citizens are considered heroic when they turn in their neighbor or call in an anonymous tip to stop criminal behavior and abuse. Yes, even animal abuse! But boy, if you actually gather substantial evidence in a Big Ag operation and show the public when officials won’t listen – you go to prison for a long, long time. These bills remove the pea from the whistle should you witness something vile, whereas before you at least had the recourse of sharing with others. This encourages more abominable behavior; with more cover up, such actions are sanctioned, and the perpetrators can rest easy knowing the whistleblowers are silenced in prison. When USDA backed Big Ag operations are in violation of current standards, how do we know? Who cares – the USDA? Whistleblowers are often the only window for the public, and when embarrassing information is released, it often leads to raised standards. On a smaller scale, it works with the restaurant industry. Get an embarrassing (public) write up about cockroach infestations and suddenly the kitchen is overhauled, no expense is spared, and sanitation thrives in order to reassure those paying customers who like a fresh clean salad, hold the mouse poop. When these bills first arrived on the scene there was a lot of backlash, but our concern is that with more and more cropping up and some scaling back punishment, they will be more readily accepted by the public. Some reporters called the scale backs, “more reasonable.” Why? First amendment rights are still going in the grinder, citizens will still go to prison. The running theme here is force, force, force even if it’s currently undetectable. Forceful legislation from senators, funds from Big Ag and Monsanto to strengthen the force, the force of multiple states following suit, force from the ensuing law enforcement – force of slamming the door on the face of public scrutiny. It’s going to be increasingly difficult to catch these viral bills, inform others, and take action when they keep rearing their ugly heads like a nationwide game of whack-a-mole. But with such replicated force, much like a virus, you can see it is more important than ever to do something. States & Bill Numbers: Florida, SB1246 (Health Freedoms petition coming soon) Iowa HF431 Minnesota, S.F. No. 1118 Idaho HB166 *Part of their Right To Farm laws, this one would preclude “nuisance” suits from the public. ~Health Freedoms Related Articles: Other Sources Cited: ### "All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do? ~Buddha"

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