In an important decision for both environmentalists and free speech advocates, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has overturned the conviction of Robert J. Stevens of Virginia who was convicted of selling videos (including so-called “crush videos”) showing dogfighting and other acts of animal cruelty. Stevens, who not surprisingly lives in a place called of Pittsville, had been sentenced to three years in prison.
Stevens sold videos of not just pit bulls fighting each other but a third video of pit bulls tearing into hogs and wild boars.
The Court did not want to expand the scope of unprotected speech. The Supreme Court had done so in 1982 by saying that possession of child pornography could be criminalized — an exception to the rule that pictures and videos of criminal acts are generally protected.
Congress then tried to expand the scope of unprotected speech further with a law on animal cruelty and a ban on so-called “crush videos” of women torturing animals. Crush videos are sickening videos for women in high-heels crushing small animals for the pleasure of the viewer.
Judge Brooks Smith wrote: “Preventing cruelty to animals, although an exceedingly worthy goal, simply does not implicate interests of the same magnitude as protecting children from physical and psychological harm.”
For a copy of the 10-3 decision, click here
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