A kitten, secured to the ground, watches and shrieks in pain as a woman thrusts her high-heeled shoe into its body - this is the sort of thing that you see on a crush video.
This article is about the law in the USA in relation to crush videos . I discuss the declaration on 20th April 2010, of the Supreme Court of the United States in which it ruled in the case of U.S. v. Stevens that the "Crush Act," of 1999 was unconstitutional and too wide in its scope. The Crush Act bans the creation, sale and possession of materials depicting genuine acts of animal cruelty.
The case of U.S. v. Stevens was one in which a Mr Robert Stevens was convicted of selling dog fighting videos. The Supreme Court decision overturned that decision on the basis that it was sold for instructional purposes (can you believe that?)
On the face of it, this seems a callous decision. No-one but the most perverted of people want to be involved in crush videos, surely? One known director of crush films, Jeff Vilencia says that he has wanted to be stepped on from when he was 2 or 3 years of age. He is obsessed with it. This must be a form of mental illness similar to masochism it seems.
Crush Videos or Films
Crush videos are films of an object being stepped on. The object can be food, insects or animals.
The crush fetish is the desire to see other people crush or step on an object or animal. Crushing with feet is the usual method. Sitting on the object or animal is another way.
The foot that steps on the animal is either bare or in a shoe. I suspect it is usually a desirable woman in high heeled shoes.
"Hard crush" is a heightened form of this fetish by crushing animals that are "arguably more pain-susceptible"1.
Justice Alito the sole dissenting judge on the Supreme court bench in this case described a crush video that was submitted to the Court as evidence as follows:"(A) kitten, secured to the ground, watches and shrieks in pain as a woman thrusts her high-heeled shoe into its body, slams her heel into the kitten's eye socket and mouth loudly fracturing its skull, and stomps repeatedly on the animal's head. The kitten hemorrhages blood, screams blindly in pain, and is ultimately left dead in a moist pile of blood-soaked hair and bone."
This is horrendously graphic and shocking to the vast majority of people anywhere.
The "Crush Act" 1999
This federal act criminalised the creation, sale or possession of animal crush videos and other depictions of animal cruelty for commercial gain. The phrase "Crush Act" is a common but not strictly accurate description of the legislation. The code reference is: 18 U.S.C. §48. The crush videos that must by definition show a living animal that is "intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed" were banned. The act did not apply to any depiction that had a serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value. The law only applied to depictions of illegal conduct.
As I understand it, the legislation is as follows:
§ 48. Depiction of animal cruelty
(a) Creation, Sale, or Possession. Whoever knowingly creates, sells, or possesses a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(b) Exception Subsection (a) does not apply to any depiction that has serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value.
(c) Definitions. In this section?
(1) the term "depiction of animal cruelty" means any visual or auditory depiction, including any photograph, motion-picture film, video recording, electronic image, or sound recording of conduct in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed, if such conduct is illegal under Federal law or the law of the State in which the creation, sale, or possession takes place, regardless of whether the maiming, mutilation, torture, wounding, or killing took place in the State; and
(2) the term "State" means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.
Crush Videos -- The Decision
The decision of the Supreme Court declared that the "Crush Act" was too wide and that it infringed the 1st Amendment - freedom of speech. In other words animal rights are trumped by human rights. This is a reflection of humankind's position vis-à-vis all other animals. Isn't this also in line in some ways with the American way of life? I am thinking of sport hunting, which is popular in the USA.
The underlying problem with the legislation in question was that it appeared to infringe the rights of sport hunters (this is my assessment). The National Rifle Association (NRA) objected to it because on the face of it, it affected media such a magazines about hunting, for example. The law also seems to have infringed the rights of people who wanted to make instructional videos about animal cruelty.
Yet hunting (regrettably) is legal in many states. Accordingly the Crush Act would not apply to hunting as it only applies to illegal behaviour.
I am not sure therefore what the argument is. This seems to be a borderline decision (despite the 8-1 decision). The Supreme Court would seem to have a majority of judges who are right wingers or republicans. Perhaps these are a legacy of the last administration under President Bush.
This appears to be a decision that was influenced by the NRA lobby. It is similar to the veterinarians defending the right to mutilate cats by declawing them for non-therapeutic reasons.
Crush Videos - What is wrong with the decision
What is wrong with this decision is that the entire Act is rendered ineffective. I find it surprising by the way that a court can in effect make law in the USA. Making law is for the government. However, in the USA constitutional law supersedes the common law and statute (government legislation) and the judges of the Supreme Court must decide if legislation conflicts with constitution.
Removing this legislation opens the door for horrendously cruel acts to recommence. It will take time to redraft the law. Apparently a bill, H.R. 5092, will fix the problem and help to ensure that the crush video industry is not reinvigorated in the absence of any enforceable federal law that addresses this behavior.
But why was it not impossible for the Supreme Court to provide in the judgment a 6 month to one year period for the government to write new law? In other words leave the Act in place and let it remain effective to protect animals until a new law is put in place, which repeals the existing law. Surely that would have been the more sensible and humane decision. It would have avoided the gap in protection that now exists. Lets remember that the Act was in place for 11 years without any apparent problem. Why suddenly scrap it? Perhaps this was not possible but I doubt that that was the problem.
And why do not the existing animal welfare laws automatically cover crush videos? I find that astonishing to be honest. Animal welfare laws should be precise enough and wide enough to encompass crush videos.
The problem is that these judges are it seems political. And judges should, indeed must, be apolitical. The law must be enforced impartially and neutrally at all times. And their should be no gap in the law, which is the case at present.
Crush videos - References:
1. en.wikipe dia.org/wiki/Crush_fetish