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  #1    
Old April 25th, 2013, 10:52 PM
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Torturing animals and filming their painful deaths is an activity protected by the U.S. Constitution, according to a federal judge in Texas.

In an opinion issued this week, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake tossed out charges against a Houston couple accused of violating the federal “animal crush video” statute. Lake wrote that the law “abridges the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.”

Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice allegedly created and distributed violent sex fetish videos -- nimal snuff films -- that depicted the torture of puppies, kittens, rabbits, and other animals.

In one of the videos, Richards was seen torturing a pit bull puppy. According to the Houston Chronicle, Richards bound the puppy’s mouth with tape, cut its back leg with a meat cleaver, slit its throat and severed the dog’s head from its body.

Other videos purportedly show Richards crushing crawfish, crabs and lobsters under her bare feet or stilettos. According to the Houston Press, Richards allegedly stomped a kitten then ground her shoe heel into the animal’s eye-socket.

After complaints from animal rights activists, Richards and Justice were arrested in August and charged with five counts of violating the animal crush video statute and two obscenity counts.

The statute, passed by Congress in 2010, outlawed “any photograph, motion picture, film, video or digital recording, or electronic image that: (1) depicts actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury; and (2) is obscene.”

The Richards and Justice case was the first prosecution under that statute. But in an opinion issued April 17, Judge Lake ruled that the law created “a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth” and that a ban on depictions of animal cruelty, for whatever reason, “was substantially overbroad and therefore unconstitutional under the First Amendment.”

Lake wrote the statute could prohibit activities that did not qualify as animal cruelty — such as a depiction of “the humane slaughter of a stolen cow.”

Lake let the obscenity charges stand.

Richards and Justice, allegedly made the videos between Feb. 2010 and Aug. 2012, according to court papers.

In his opinion, Lake concluded that the acts depicted in the videos were “disturbing and horrid.”

But the federal animal crush video statute could not withstand “strict scrutiny and therefore abridges the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals expressed dismay with Lake's ruling.

"We read through the judge's ruling and we agree with one part of his statement: These are disturbing and horrid videos," said spokeswoman Stephanie Bell. "We of course are disappointed with the courts legal ruling. But we will be looking to the appellate court to overturn it.

"The new crush law was drafted to specifically to protect amimals from this type of heinous cruelty without violating free speech rights," Bell said. "And we believe that Congress and President Obama got it right and we're confident that the appeals court will put this case right back where it belongs, in the hands of the prosecutors."
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/na...203826421.html

Texas - Where you are legally entitled to torture animals, as long as you remember to record it.

As bad as it is, this is a rather interesting ruling. Mainly because of what other actions could be protected this way. Rather morbid, but I'd be intrested in seeing the results of a murderer or rapist using this ruling as a defense.
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Last edited by Mr. X; April 25th, 2013 at 11:23 PM.
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Old April 25th, 2013, 11:43 PM
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It's just one judge's opinion who probably isn't very experienced in this subject matter or probably sees animals as much property as a pop can. He also loves the first amendment wayy too much. He clearly abhors the acts in the video, but he's simply saying "for the sake of free speech..."
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Old April 26th, 2013, 12:00 AM
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Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. That's all I really have to say (not that I can't put a picture up, which will say a thousand words):
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Old April 26th, 2013, 12:57 AM
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The first amendment may protect his right to free expression, but can't that same expression be used as evidence for crimes like these?
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Old April 26th, 2013, 05:19 AM
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It guarentee's free expression, free from governmental suppression.

In this case the judge was proably running with the same idea - But the judge wasn't considering the act of recording the event to allowed, he was considering the torture legal as it was recorded.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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If I'm understanding correctly, then I agree with the judge. Video taping is legal. What's recorded is not always legal.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 08:10 AM
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Haha, so they should be punished for crushing the animals but not for recording it? That's genius! Seriously though, it's a lot more obscene than pornography - forget the First Amendment, crap like this isn't worth protecting.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 08:25 AM
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Making the recording should be legal. It should also be used as evidence to lock anyone who does this away forever, accompanied with torture equal or greater to what they did to the animal.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 08:54 AM
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What I'm trying to figure out is how far this could be stretched since if this kind of horror is only permitted if a recorder is involved then what's to stop some psychopath from using this kind of excuse should they say, try to torture another person while recording the said torture.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by QuilavaKing View Post
Making the recording should be legal. It should also be used as evidence to lock anyone who does this away forever, accompanied with torture equal or greater to what they did to the animal.
The thing about the case is the wording of the laws, and how seperate laws would interact with each other/

This ruling, essentially, says torturing animals to death is legal if the act is recorded. I don't know if Texas has other laws against torturing animals, but even then this ruling would - since it involves a Right, could easily trump the other laws too.

As morbid as it sounds, I'd actually like to see the results of someone using this as a defense for other crimes. Most specifically, murder and rape.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Oh. Wasn't aware freedom of speech translated to freedom of torture. How could I have been so blind as to miss that connection? Silly me!
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Old April 26th, 2013, 01:06 PM
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I'm still a little confused. Are they still going to be guilty of torturing and killing animals? Is the judge's decision just about the recent law and separate from charges of animal cruelty?

I think recording that kind of stuff is horrid, but I have to think that anyone recording it is probably party to the act already and should be guilty of animal cruelty and should still get some kind of penalty, especially since there's clear evidence.

And on a personal note I'm going to have nightmares based on those descriptions. I don't like to judge, or swear on this forum, but those people are sick ****s.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 01:15 PM
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I had the misfortune to watch one of those videos on Facebook, I presume before it got taken down. My curiousity got the better of me and I couldn't believe that it was actually happening. But I think the person recording should get charged because they were doing it for snuff porn. It's not like he was reporting to expose the cruelty.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 09:58 AM
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Um, let's get the facts straight. The couple is still facing animal cruelty and obscenity charges in the matter. The dismissal only applied to the violations of the New Federal Law.

The judge only dismissed the five charges under the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, legislation passed after the Supreme Court ruled a similar case with animal torture fetish videos. The Supreme Court ruled in US v Stevens that the act of torture was still a crime; however, the law that prohibited the distribution of animal cruelty at the state level was not sufficient enough to abridge speech. Thus, the act of cruelty may be criminal, yet the depiction or filming of animal cruelty is not. Essentially, under the new Federal law that came out in 2010 in response to this judgement is overly broad. In that, if a film or show depicts the killing of a deer during hunting season, or a lion shreding apart a gazelle on the animal planet, both would violate the Federal Law. Further, under this law, mere DEPICTION of animal bodily-harm would be illegal. How many movies do you know that have animals appearing to be harmed, like action or horror genres? Should those movies be banned from distribution?

The Judge is simply conveying that the Federal Law is overly-broad and violates the Supreme Court Decision of 2009.

The couple will most likely face harsh convictions under animal torture laws.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Fenneking View Post
Um, let's get the facts straight. The couple is still facing animal cruelty and obscenity charges in the matter. The dismissal only applied to the violations of the New Federal Law.

The judge only dismissed the five charges under the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, legislation passed after the Supreme Court ruled a similar case with animal torture fetish videos. The Supreme Court ruled in US v Stevens that the act of torture was still a crime; however, the law that prohibited the distribution of animal cruelty at the state level was not sufficient enough to abridge speech. Thus, the act of cruelty may be criminal, yet the depiction or filming of animal cruelty is not. Essentially, under the new Federal law that came out in 2010 in response to this judgement is overly broad. In that, if a film or show depicts the killing of a deer during hunting season, or a lion shreding apart a gazelle on the animal planet, both would violate the Federal Law. Further, under this law, mere DEPICTION of animal bodily-harm would be illegal. How many movies do you know that have animals appearing to be harmed, like action or horror genres? Should those movies be banned from distribution?

The Judge is simply conveying that the Federal Law is overly-broad and violates the Supreme Court Decision of 2009.

The couple will most likely face harsh convictions under animal torture laws.
I guess then the problem here, at least for me, is how the new law was worded. I personally think that there should be a penalty for making and distributing videos of the kind that were made (videos of intentional human torture of animals for the sake of torture and not journalistic recordings documenting it happening), similar, but although not identical, to how we treat child pornography. If someone is willing to break the law to make these movies then any number of people could watch and distribute them freely and I think that undercuts the intention of the law, which I think is a good intention.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 11:25 AM
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Exactly, the law is the issue at hand, not the judge who must only apply law when making his decisions.

The law is overly-broad, and could be applied if it was more narrowly-tailored in order to further deterrence of the actual acts of animal cruelty.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 12:05 AM
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I had the misfortune of seeing of these videos back in 2003, I was 13 and a teenager with the internet is like a joy ride in a stolen car lol the title didn't hint to anything morbid....but i was traumatized for years lol
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