26 September 2009

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Free Speech Battle Arises From Videos of Fighting Dogs” (front page, Sept. 19):

The Supreme Court should reinstate a crucial 1999 federal law banning the commercial sale of videos depicting animal cruelty.

In the 10 years that the law has been in place, it has been used only to stop people from selling videos of dogs tearing one another apart in organized dogfighting, the underlying crime now treated as a felony offense in every state.

Its greatest effect, however, has been to dry up the supply of “animal crush” videos, where women, often in high-heeled shoes, would impale and crush to death puppies, kittens and other small animals, catering to those with a fetish for this behavior.

Now that the law has been struck down, there has been a resurgence in these snuff films readily available for sale over the Internet. This is not speech. This is commercial activity of a sickening and barbaric type, and the peddlers of this smut should find no safe harbor for it in the First Amendment, just as child pornographers do not have a right to sell films involving the exploitation of children under the banner of free speech.

Wayne Pacelle
President and Chief Executive
Humane Society of the United States
Washington, Sept. 20, 2009