First they came for the animal rights activists…..
A recent report
pointed out that laws which are used to prevent animal rights activists
from exposing inhumane practices at factory farms, can also be used to
prevent whistleblowers that attempt to expose corruption at other
facilities, like daycare centers or nursing homes, for example.
controversial ag-gag laws do not just apply to factory farms, but are
written so broadly that they can prevent people from speaking out
against unethical practices that are happening in their places of
In a statement earlier
this year, AARP criticized a newly proposed ag-gag bill in North
Carlina, stating that it would prevent nursing home employees from
speaking out about unethical practices in the workplace.
Bill 405 will create new risks for workers, older adults, families and
children because it extends to all industries including nursing homes,
hospitals, group homes, medical practices, charter and private schools,
daycare centers, and so forth,” the statement read.
As journalist Will Potter pointed out in a recent interview with Vice,
“Originally these laws were explicitly targeting animal welfare groups
and explicitly prohibiting photography, that didn’t go [over] very well
with the public.”
“This is about undercover video and they’re just trying to package it in a new way to try to sneak it through,” he added.
did such an obscene thing come to be? There is a little-known but
powerful group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
that introduces model bills in states across the country on behalf of
its corporate members.
Several agribusiness corporations and
organizations have been funders of ALEC such as Archer Daniels Midland,
Cargill, and the National Pork Producers Council. As with other powerful
industry groups like oil and gas or Big Pharma, ALEC seeks to dismantle
consumer rights using the power of state government.
the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism in America” model bill just two
years after 9/11, capitalizing on the fear of terrorism that was being
stoked by government and media. The model bill goes so far as to compare
“extreme animal rights activists and environmental militants” to
It would put people on an actual Terrorist Registry for
taking undercover pictures and films that “defame the facility or its
owner.” Pennsylvania’s proposed law even criminalizes those who download
such material over the internet.
Last month, the Free Thought Project helped to shed light on the unethical practices of ALEC. The report showed how ALEC colludes in private with public officials to
draft laws just like this one. Not only do the public officials
unlawfully refuse access to the press in these meetings, but they are
protected by police officers acting on behalf of these cronies.