Criminalizing Animal Activism

I’m not a huge animal rights activist.  I don’t like animals being abused, but if I’m going to focus my energies on something it’s more likely going to be human rights.  However, this goes beyond just animal rights because it penalizes folks who are trying to expose the terrible conditions that our food is produced in.  The corporations that run these factories don’t want their practices exposed because then consumers would demand change. 

So i took a just couple minutes, threw together a letter and sent it off to my representatives.  The following is what I wrote to my representative.  Following that is her response that arrived just a few minutes after I sent my email.  If you want to write your representatives, tell them to vote against house file 1369.  If you don’t know who your reps are, go here: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/

 

I’m writing to you about H.F. No. 1369.  This bill would penalize people who expose the terrible conditions and treatment at animal facilities.  I’m not an animal rights fanatic, but I want to know what kind of conditions the animals I’m going to eat are raised in.  I don’t want to eat chickens that are raised in a sunless barn with sick chickens dying all around them.  The corporations who run these operations sure aren’t going to make the conditions known, but as consumers we should be able to access this kind of information.  This bill would impose penalties for those who, without the owner’s consent, “produce a record which reproduces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility” as well as anybody caught distributing that material.  Another part of the bill targets undercover investigators and whistleblowers.  This is not right.  If the people who raise our food (or breed our pets, etc) have something to hide, perhaps they should work on improving the conditions not criminalizing the conscientious people who work to expose them. 

Lastly there’s a section that covers animal facility tampering, which is already illegal.  However, in this bill the terminology is very ambiguous and includes “disrupting” operations.  This is much like a “disorderly conduct” charge which can be used for almost anything, except that animal facility tampering is listed as a felony.  Again, this law imposes steep penalties for people who are exposing the conditions that our food is raised under. 

This is basically about keeping consumers in the dark, because the people who run these factory farms (and puppy mills) know that if the public is educated, they will change their purchasing habits.  Please vote against this bill.

 

Here’s the reponse I received:

 

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to HF 1369, which
would criminalize undercover investigations in animal facilities. I want
you to know that I share your concerns with this bill and have some
information about what is happening in regard to it here in the
legislature.

HF 1369 was introduced on April 4 and referred to the House Agriculture
and Rural Development Policy and Finance committee. While the bill has
yet to receive a hearing, the Chair of this committee (who decides what
bills receive hearings) is also the chief author of the measure. That
said, while this bill might receive a hearing, I am unsure of its
prospects beyond the Agriculture committee. Regardless, in the event
this bill comes before me on the House floor, I plan to oppose it.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Laine

Rep. Carolyn Laine
Minnesota House, District 50A
287 State Office Building
651-296-4331 (office)
763-788-1864 (home)
rep.carolyn.laine@house.mn

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