The most memorable video we watched in middle school showed the treatment of animals in the beauty industry. Students squirmed as they saw what happens to a rabbit’s eyes after lipstick has been shoved in them. Many kids covered their faces. Others protested having to watch.
It bothered me then, newly a vegetarian, to see students shielding themselves from confronting cruelty. But today it troubles me more to see animal rights advocates defending a law to banish images of cruelty entirely.
The federal law, Section 48, prohibits selling any “depiction of animal cruelty” across state lines. The Supreme Court is now considering whether the ban – targeted at violence fetish “crush” videos of people stomping animals, but far broader in scope – violates the First Amendment. Animal rights groups and the Obama administration are asking to Court to restore Section 48, which was overturned by 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, along with the conviction of Robert Stevens, who created and narrated dogfighting videos using others’ footage. Stevens had been sentenced under Section 48 to three years in jail for making the films. Michael Vick served one year less for running a dogfighting ring.