How ALEC is working to criminalize factory farm whistleblowers

Chemically burning a horse's legs and then attaching chains to the open wound is a crime.

Yet as detailed by the Humane Society in the video above and online, horse "soring" is still practiced by trainers to force animals into adopting an unnaturally high gait for show competitions.

The video above resulted in criminal convictions for the trainer and several employees, yet as a piece by Richard A. Oppel jr explained in the New York Times this weekend, the makers of such videos themselves are increasingly coming under fire from legislation aimed at silencing "whistleblowers" and animal advocates.

It's not the first time we've heard of such a threat. From Minnesota law makers' efforts to outlaw farm photography to successful efforts in Montana, North Dakota, Iowa and Kansas, TreeHugger has been posting on the farm lobby's efforts to outlaw undercover exposes.

A less reported fact, however, which comes to light in the New York Times piece, is that many of these legislative efforts appear to be inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—a group of law makers and lobbyists which crafts model legislature in relative secrecy, and then works with politicians on the state and regional level to introduce the bills, often without disclosing the connection to ALEC itself.

This extract from Oppel jr's article explains more:

Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. The group creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that in the past have included such things as “stand your ground” gun laws and tighter voter identification rules.

One of the group’s model bills, “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators would be placed on a “terrorist registry.” Officials from the group did not respond to a request for comment.

Of course, from oil money corrupting our children's education to recent attempts to decimate states' support for renewable energy, many TreeHuggers will be no strangers to ALEC's tactics.

I once criticized the environmental movement for relying too heavily on "good and evil" rhetoric and cartoonish depictions of corporate villains, yet the more I learn about ALEC, the more I wonder whether those depictions were not too far off the mark.

Tags: Activism | Agriculture | Animal Rights | Corporate Responsibility

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