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.
The 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 business.
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.
“House 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.
How 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.
ALEC drafted 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 al-Qaida.
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. In the meantime, Americans direct their anger a at store selling shirts with an upside down flag on…
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.