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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dog Fighting Video and Free Speech

The Supreme Court in wading in on a controversial issue with the ACLU and the NRA siding with one another this should be a good one to watch. The issue simply put is over a video showing dog fights. If this is ruled unlawful then videos of bull fighting and many hunting videos could soon be ruled unlawful. Just a small step from there to outlawing certain fishing videos that show the death of our scaly friends. Although I oppose any form of dog fighting this video was used by the defendant in the case to condemn that so-called sport. As I see it, this should be a clear and easy case for the nine black-robed members of the high court, but then one can never be sure.

As a life long fisherman and hunter I see nothing wrong in video taping my fishing trips and the kill on hunting trips. I still maintain a number of videos taken south of the border at the bull rings. And as I was quick to point out to my grandson recently--they do kill the bulls. For some unknown reason he didn't know that and the young man is now 20 years old--what can I say, a product of our great school system.
read more Above image from Patriotic Gentleman
Supreme Court Weighs Free Speech in Dog Fighting Case
Robert Stevens, a dog lover, sold bloody pit bull fighting videos that have raised questions on whether free speech protects the sale of horrific scenes of animal cruelty.

WASHINGTON -- On the first Tuesday of October, the second day of its new session, the Supreme Court will take up the case of a dog lover whose bloody pit bull fighting videos have raised questions on whether free speech protects the sale of horrific scenes of animal cruelty.

Robert Stevens, 69, was sentenced by a Pittsburgh jury in 2005 to more than three years in prison for selling the graphic videos of dog fights. The Virginia man's sentence was harsher than the one NFL quarterback Michael Vick got for bankrolling a dog-fighting ring.

The 1999 law used in Stevens' sentencing "prohibits the knowing creation, sale, or possession of a depiction of a live animal being intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed" for commercial gain. But the law stipulates that the material must also lack "serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value."

The case centers on a basic fundamental question examining the reach of the First Amendment. Is the law so broad that it also covers some protected speech, thus making it invalid on its face?

A lower appellate court ruled that it was, striking down Stevens' sentence.

Stevens has defended himself against charges of animal cruelty, insisting that he is a dog lover who distributes information about pit bulls to educate the public. Meanwhile, the government defends the decade-old law used to convict Stevens as an effective deterrent to stop animal cruelty, alleging that Stevens is the type of facilitator and profiteer the law is meant to stop. read more
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