This is the rather tortuous saga of attempts to create a law in the USA which prohibits the making of crush videos for distribution and profit. Anyone and everyone knows instinctively and without question that crush videos are an horrendously perverted example of human behavior which must be stopped.
The original law of 1999 called Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act (the “Crush Act”) was said to be unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court. This is my post on that story.
The court’s declaration, it is argued, encouraged the makers of crush videos to carry on and even make more of them. They had achieved a victory. It was a black day for animal advocates and people who care about animal welfare.
The original act was deemed unconstitutional because it was drafted incorrectly. It was drafted too widely and infringed the rights of people who were making instructional videos. At least that was the argument.
The Humane Society working with associates in Congress tweaked the language of the original act to create a new one which is called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act (2010).
As it happens, the first prosecution brought under this new act, in 2012, against Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice, was challenged by the defendants as unconstitutional which is exactly what happened the first time around with the previous law. Perhaps they thought they could pull the same trick and get off.
Their challenge was heard in the US District Court who unfortunately held that the law was unconstitutional and a violation of the first Amendment. Therefore replicating what happened years earlier.
However, fortunately, federal prosecutors appealed that decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. With the help of HSUS and lawyers working for free (pro bono) they convinced the judges at the US Court of appeals to overturn the decision of the US District Court. They declared that the current law was indeed constitutional.
That, as I understand it, puts this saga to bed and we can now tell ourselves that the making of crush videos is a federal crime in the United States, but please read on.
There may be some bits that I have missed. I believe what is stated on this page is entirely accurate but the story is complicated. One website states that “it is a federal crime to profit from the commerce in crush videos”.
That is a different to making crush videos illegal because it implies that a person can make crush videos at home for private viewing without payment. That should not be correct because it is still animal cruelty for the perverted titillation of others. However, my reading of the law on the government’s website tells me that crush videos are only unlawful if they are made with the intention of distributing them for interstate or foreign commerce.
The reason, I believe is because the existing, general law covering animal welfare and punishing animal cruelty already covers the animal cruelty in crush videos. Therefore the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act extends animal welfare law to cover making a profit out of crush videos.
I hope that this post helps people understand the situation regarding crush videos in the USA but what I stated in the last few paragraphs disturbed me somewhat.
Note: My thanks to Dee for spotting this story.