Animal Cruelty in Fetish Videos Call for Clearer Definition of "Free Speech"
It is safe to say that pretty much all forms of animal cruelty are frowned upon by society. It is also safe to assume that participating in animal cruelty for profit is even worse. In the United States, all 50 states have laws protecting animals against cruelty. However, one court case is attempting to challenge the idea that one has a right to profit on a form of animal cruelty, as protected by the "free speech" clause of the First Amendment. While animal cruelty may indeed be illegal, the act of recording violent acts involving animals and selling them for profit is protected as free speech.
Free speech is intended to give all Americans the right to have their own beliefs and the freedom to express them without fear of persecution. However, common sense should tell anyone that if an action is illegal, then any act that depicts or supports the illegal act should be outlawed as well.
As obvious as this may seem, this case has been brought all the way to the Supreme Court in the case United States v. Robert J Stevens. The Supreme Court is always reluctant to change laws regarding free speech, as it doesn't want to give the impression that it is attempting the basic liberties of American citizens. The last case where rulings questioned limitations of free speech was in a case that involved child pornography.
The law states that it is a crime to create, possess or sell images of animal cruelty, which is defined to include live animals being maimed, injured, tortured or killed if the conduct itself is illegal in the relevant jurisdiction. With that being said, it seems disgraceful that someone would attempt to challenge such an obvious law by using the tool of freedom that this nation's forefathers gave it's citizens as a shield. Should the acts become protected by the First Amendment, it would do nothing more than encourage a certain constituency of Americans to participate in these illegal acts for profit, but under a shield of anonymity for their protection. This would not only be bad for the innocent animals involved, but also for the integrity and image of our nation, as well as the minds of individuals, both young and old, that would be exposed to these harmful videos.
I support free speech just as much as any American, including the right to criticize others. However, speech does not cause physical harm to others and therefore, free speech should not be used to provide the freedom to create a loophole to cause as well as profit from the harm of others, whether it be a person or an animal.
Ironically, it is our freedom of speech that allows for the arguments both ways in this case, as well as peaceful protests that may possibly arise as a result of the case whichever way it may conclude. Freedom of speech can and should continue to be given to all Americans, but the freedom to harm others, mentally as well as physically, should not be a right or a privilege for anyone.