Do you realize that there is a federal law that prohibits the sale or possession for commercial gain of material that depicts living animals being “intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed”? Sound familiar? Sound like your favorite hunting video or TV show? Of course, hunters worthy of the name never intentionally maim, mutilate, torture, or wound. But we do intentionally kill, and more and more often these days it’s done on video for commercial gain.
So what gives?
The law was initially targeted at “crush videos,” in which women in high heels crush small animals to death for the sexual titillation of viewers, according to this Washington Post article. But in 2004, pit-bull trainer and videographer Robert J. Stevens was convicted under the statute. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear his case and could eventually decide whether or not you get to watch your next hunting video or TV show.
From the Post story:
Although the law has been used sparingly, it leaves in the hands of the government the power to criminalize speech that is either unpopular or offensive. It is written so broadly that it could be used to chill or even ensnare legitimate newsgathering exercises or put in legal jeopardy those who capture hunting expeditions on tape.
Be sure to check out the full article and weigh in.