Videos of dead or dying kitties and puppies are OK!

SCOTUS struck down law aimed at banning animal cruelty videos. Free speech trumps concern over animal cruelty.

Speaking of our right to speak freely, what’s your take on this? Pro or con? will get a whole lot weirder…

I think SCOTUS made the right call on this one based upon how broadly defined the law was. As it stood, Billy Bob e-mailing a video of himself with the 12 point buck he shot, to his brother in law, would be a violation.

Or a training video of a chicken processing plant.

I think the videos are fine. In fact, they would make excellent evidence when prosecuting the actual animal cruelty case.

Freedom of speech is a good thing. If the videos are gaining popularity and that’s disturbing, it’s not the videos that are the problem anyway.

I think it’s pretty hard to overdo protecting free speech, and have to side with the court on this one. But I also hope that we get more and more efficient at using such videos to convict abusers.

The trouble with limiting free speech (or expression) is that pretty much any government that does some of it, for good purposes, eventually can’t resist doing more of it to further the personal goals of people in power (usually consolidating more power). So, when free speech goes, pretty much everything else can follow.

There is a judgement to make here, and not a trivial ones.

Inigo, I think the videos are part of the problem, because they may be created for sale. The events might not have happened otherwise. On the other hand, if a video of one event substitutes for many individual events, they could help. This is so horrible it hurts to even contemplate.

If I had the ability, I’d try to trace anyone who posted content to these sites and pass on their names and addresses to the ALF or some other militant animal rights group.

Just gave the opinion a quick read - it’s a fascinating case.

I certainly don’t approve of animal cruelty - my cat would disown me if I did - but I think the Court pretty clearly reached the right conclusion here. The government engaged in a bit of what one of my old bosses would call “heroic lawyering”, arguing that the Court could find that the videos at issue here weren’t protected by the First Amendment at all, simply by balancing the worth of the videos against the cost of depicting dogfights. That’s a nasty standard - it’s quite hard for the government to regulate speech protected under the First Amendment, but relatively straightforward for the government to regulate unprotected speech (obscenity, say, or threats).

What the government’s proposed rule would have done it made it much easier for courts to say, in future, “this speech is more of a pain in the ass than it’s worth to society, therefore it enjoys no first amendment protection at all, and the government can do more or less as it wishes.” That’s scary as fuck, and I’m pleased Roberts slapped it down.

The other scary thing about the Government’s argument is a bit more subtle, but is even scarier. The law here had a provision that works with serious educational, artistic, or a few other sorts of social value would be legal. This standard was borrowed from a case called Miller, which held that a law banning the sale of obscene material (but had the “serious work” exception") was constitutionally permissible. The government argued that, therefore, the same provision would save the law here.

Here’s the kicker, though - obscenity is one of the very few kinds of speech that isn’t protected speech under the First Amendment. If the government had won on this point, the Court could have ended up ruling that: 1.) dogfight videos are protected speech under the first amendment, but (2) the government can regulate this speech because, among other things, it lacks serious artistic/educational/social value.

The Court said here - and I completely agree - that such a rule would be very, very bad. Most of what we say has no serious value of any sort - but the First Amendment still protects it. If the Court wasn’t going to say that speech can be excepted from the First Amendment protections using a simple cost/benefit analysis, the Government wanted the Court to say that even speech protected under the First Amendment only enjoys serious protection when it’s serious, significant speech. That’s a much narrower protection than we enjoy today.

There are other bits to the opinion as well, of course, some quite important - but those are the bits I find most interesting. I’ve not finished Alito’s dissent yet, and maybe I’ll feel differently after I read it - but for now, I think the Roberts Court got this right.

The proponents of the original law were attempting to put animals in the same class as victims of child pornography. Those types of pics and videos are not protected by free speech. I guess that SCOTUS is saying that while puppies and kitties are cute and all, but they’re not the same as our children.

[Moderating] Moved to Great Debates from MPSIMS. [/Moderating]

I’ve only read one article about this, but the court didn’t rule videos of animal cruelty were okay, they rule that this law was much too broad.

If the law bans this, then the law is stupid.

Well, that’s the first thing that popped into my head - How can you ban depictions of child rape on the basis of protecting the child being depicted, and not apply the same standard to the little animals?

But SCOTUS has never addressed child porn laws, have they? Whether or not they have, they made the right call on this one. I hate animal cruelty, but I loves me some constitutional law and intellectual honesty.

I thought they’d found child porn was not protected if real children were depicted. It’s implied here that they have addressed it.

Child rape is a crime. Hunting, or working in an abattoir is not. You can justify making child porn illegal for the same reasons you make accepting stolen goods illegal (to starve out the suppliers, and to remove a possible loophole), but some weirdo getting off to video of your hunting trip doesn’t retroactively make your actions a crime.

But what about some weirdo that get’s off on videos of some Japanese lady in seven inch stillettos stomping a little kitten to death?

Yes, if someone can be allowed to watch someone stamping a defenceless animal to death, why can’t I be allowed to kick to death the animal that is enjoying such a thing, film it, and let other likeminded animals watch it?

Because vigilante actions are frowned upon.

If the original law had been limited to videos where the original act was actually a crime, it probably wouldn’t have been thrown out. As it was, it sounded more like a PETA wet dream than a law that had any right to exist.

Samuel Alito is the lone dissenter here. Be interesting to see how it shakes out.

This site claims that the law in question was indeed limited to depictions of acts which are crimes in themselves.