The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund urge Congress to work quickly to provide law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on traffickers of animal "crush" videos by passing H.R. 5092. Introduced on Wednesday by Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., James Moran, D-Va., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and more than 50 other Representatives, this narrowly-crafted statute is designed to end the intentional crushing, burning, drowning and impaling of puppies, kittens and other animals for the depraved purpose of peddling videos of such extreme acts of animal cruelty for the sexual titillation of viewers.
H.R. 5092 was introduced immediately in response to this week's Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Stevens. The Court ruled that a law introduced by Rep. Gallegly and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999, the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, was "overbroad" and might capture depictions protected by the First Amendment. The Court acknowledged the long history of animal protection laws in the United States and left open a pathway for Congress to pass a more targeted law aimed at "extreme animal cruelty."
Before the 1999 law was enacted, there were approximately 3,000 of these horrific videos available in the marketplace, selling for up to $300 apiece. That market all but disappeared soon after the law was passed, but since a federal appellate court declared the law unconstitutional in July 2008, crush videos have again proliferated on the Internet.
"Congress should act quickly to enact this legislation to prevent some of the most extreme forms of animal cruelty I have ever seen," said Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "Anyone who has seen the clips of women in high heels literally crushing small animals will understand the urgency in passing a bill to prevent the sale of these vile images."
"Violence is not a First Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue," Rep. Elton Gallegly said. "Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This bill is one step toward ending this cycle of violence."
"I refuse to stand by while people profit from the mutilation and torture of helpless puppies, kittens and other animals." said Rep. Jim Moran. "I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Gallegly to respond to this decision while preserving the constitutional freedoms all Americans hold dear."
"Animal cruelty is not something to celebrate and circulate online," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer. "On the heels of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, we're taking immediate and bipartisan action to protect animals without infringing on the right to free speech. The bottom line is that we need to protect animals from being tortured or killed in a manner that is criminal or morally reprehensible. No one should be allowed to profit from so-called crush videos or other images of animal cruelty."
Click here to see the list of original legislators sponsoring the bill.