Every once in a while, my compassion outweighs my common sense, and I decide to write something unrelated to the ebb and flow of the Colony of Cybernetics. They are not completely off topic. The importance of these choice subjects make them inspirational at some level. But they are purely opinion pieces which, you may or may not agree with. And of course they may challenge you at some level should you wish to read them.
Since news sites, and networks have begun pumping out stories about the Agricultural Protection Act, I’ve gotten into many the conversation about the Ag-Gag legislation. There are undeniably a lot of people who are confused by the legislation. Not to mention what this means to them as consumers. But most importantly to me, what it means to the safety and welfare of the animals which this bill centers.
So before we go any further we should talk about the law and what it is. The Agricultural Protection act and all its peers (that is it’s not EXACTLY the same write up in every state) have three bullet points that encompass it’s reach. The first is that they wish to make it illegal for someone to seek employment at an agro-business with the sole desire to film or document its going ons. The second bullet point is, should they somehow do that anyways and film an incident of misconduct then they are required to give the footage to local law enforcement within 24 hours. And the third bullet point is to induct anyone in defiance of the act in the ever growing Domestic Terrorist Watch list.
Just reading the first part, may raise a few flags and remind you of a certain ‘stand your ground’ law, that was brought up around the world after the Trayvon Martin shooting in florida. That is where a man shot and killed a child, in a posh suburb. Like the Stand your Ground laws that swept through many state level courthouses, these new AG-GAG laws are following that path. And yes there are other ways in which sibling bills are drafted but like Stand your ground, AG-GAG is created part and parcel by the fine folks at ALEC. That is an independent group of politicians, corporations, and lobbyists getting together at lavish parties and deciding on laws, and instituting them around the US. You know that dark future where mega-corps rule the government? ALEC’s whole operation is designed to make that become a reality. If you want to talk about real life inspiration for Science fiction, do some research on these lads.
But obviously, a law that is bridging up holes in the security and information leaking of huge companies is going to be very heavily influenced by these companies. So this whole ALEC and Corporate money to help push such legislation shouldn’t be a huge mind blowing situation. It is after all par for the course. And where many of us wish that there was less corporate influence on elected officals that are supposed to equally care about OUR interests, until someone finally does something about the free flow of money into DC, you shouldn’t be surprised.
Now what about the law itself? At first glance, the first bullet point making it illegal to enter a contract of employment with false
pretenses seems to already be illegal. And it is illegal but the punishment for such an act relates to what was conducted while those false pretenses were up. If you acted as an employee of a company to steal some blue prints you are going to have a bit tougher jail time than if
you masqueraded to try to get a date with someone you liked. The law is quite firm in this particular model of criminal. And a corporation DOES have the right to protect their assets. If there’s a film documenting some fancy new murder weapon that the people at TYSON invented, they should be able to protect that technology from their competitors. Just like Microsoft should be able to protect however they are fitting so much memory in the Next box. And yes, Tyson prosecute to your hearts content if an AR film unveils some trade secret. But the problem is that these undercover videoes don’t document new technology. They document inhuman procedures like beating a downed cow with a shovel. And lets be honest if there were proper monitoring and policing at the state level to protect animals from such battery and abuse, there wouldn’t be a need for third parties to document PATTERNS of misconduct.
The same can be said when we look at factory farming and big agriculture. See if you document one worker kicking a pig with the heel of his boot and snap its jaw, the farm can just fire the dick and move on without much recourse. But to really find an environment of cruelty you have to wait and watch, so something can be done at the administrative level. These undercover videos are responsible for many investigations and sentences of animal cruelty because they are allowed to film over time to record a pattern of cruelty. And this is why these videos are needed. No one is putting these practices into light. Not the survalience cameras many slaughterhouses have installed. Not the local law enforcement, not the FDA or anyone. So concerned citizens have taken it upon themselves to spread this information and make it known that laws are being broken, and things need to change.And those patterns of abuse are what the second bullet point is all about. In a few dialogs I’ve heard people shrug their shoulders at the aspect of activists turning over footage in 24 hours. If it’s really that bad, shouldn’t the officials get see that at the earliest convenience? In general when an issue arises of abuse in a human and there is documentation of this issue, there is an immediate response. Or so we like to think. In a perfect world, a woman who is getting beat by her husband would need only to report it to the police once and he would be arrested, but in many places they look for a ‘pattern of abuse’.
The final bullet point that we are discussing is this whole Domestic Terrorist Watch List business. Since around 2006, the federal and state governments hand in hand with big agriculture have put Animal Rights Activists in their cross hairs. We’ve seen a rush of anti-demonstration laws that seek to clip out a citizen’s right to assemble and promote their view points. It is not criminal to demonstrate infront of a food selling business if it hampers its ability to make money. As though there was some other point in this action. Its also been widely known that the government’s domestic terrorist watch program, continually puts Animal Rights groups at the top of the list. If you get arrested demonstrating against big ag, you may be surprised to realize you are on the watchlist. It was easy for the government to pass these things, citing the violent actions of the Animal Liberation Front, and other proactive groups. But it’s not just SAM groups. There are rescue workers, peaceful demonstrators, those crazy naked PETA girls, and anyone who has a heart and believes in the human race to be humane counted in these terrorist numbers.
So all in all, these Ag-gag laws, and legislation trying to push stronger and stronger holds on those who want to spread information is wrong. Just like the halting of information in a free country in all is wrong. Like the unfair imprisonment of Payton Manning for spreading the truth about the war in afganastan, and the shooting down the laws of labeling GMOs. The more we know about what is going on, the stronger we can be as people. We can stay strong and fight for what we believe is right. Because when you limit the information we have, you limit America and our ‘for the people by the people’ mantra we are supposed to hold so dear.