Debate: After Activists Covertly Expose Animal Cruelty, Should They Be Targeted With “Ag-Gag” Laws? | Democracy Now!
If we can’t pay attention to both what they’re saying and what they’re doing, then fascists will finish the job of making the hell that is this world as hot as it can be in no time at all.
Please watch the Democracy Now segment which I link to here. And be outraged. But don’t watch it just to be disgusted and angered, for those are emotions that will, unchecked, only serve elites by causing us to be distracted and unfocussed. This response – using captured governments to criminalize whistle-blowing and legalize crime – by the corporatocracy to exposure of big ag’s disgusting practices – aided and abetted, I’m sorry to report, by a large swathe of the 99% who don’t care enough about how they survive – highlights the main features of the corporatocracy, the cancer on mankind and our liveable earth that has fairly devoured everything.
Here’s ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), an unaccountable organization that corporations and special interests use to make laws that they then use their pull with legislators to enact, bypassing any sort of forums that may include the voices of (all of) those affected by the proposed laws, coming to the rescue of big ag (not America’s small family farms), allowing it to continue to do it’s cruel business as usual by essentially criminalizing the activists who are only doing what governments would do if they were actually by and of the people, namely regulate. In the absence of proper regulation of agribusiness in the area of meat and poultry production, the public depends on brave activists, and whistle-blowers in the pertinent industries, to let us know when something’s wrong. But when neoliberals say that they don’t want regulation (unless it’s regulation of those who complain about deregulation), they mean it, as we see. And so, You get obscenities such as Senate Bill 648, which (employment application fraud bill) is designed to enforce the corporatocracy’s law against regulation of itself. It was only days ago that something similar happened when the act dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act was approved by president Obama.
From the employment fraud law, which Orwell would understand perfectly.
I will present, below, excerpts from the transcript from the DN video linked to at the top of the post. I guess I should warn you: You will find some footage to be quite disturbing. If you don’t like seeing gratuitous cruelty toward animals – a pitchfork to a cow’s head and gut and legs, a cow beaten with a bar after having it’s nose chained to a post, birds kicked and so on – then just listen to the video. Don’t watch it. I can offer a few screen shots, but they are nowhere near as graphic as the video from which I’ve taken them.
“You are from your father the Devil and you wish to satisfy his desires [to inflict pain and cause anger and confusion].” – John 8:44
Maybe if he kicks this cow’s head in, the cow will figure out what it is it’s supposed to do. Besides become this creep’s next yummy grease and salt fix.
Here’s what mafia capitalism means. And here’s what spiritual failure and the selling of one’s soul looks like. It’s not a pretty sight. Indeed, It’s as ugly as any of the images of sickos torturing, for pleasure, animals in their care that investigators like Will Potter has recorded.
So-called “ag-gag” bills that criminalize undercover filming on farms and at slaughterhouses to document criminal animal abuse are sweeping the country. Five states, including Missouri, Utah and Iowa, already have such laws in place. North Carolina has just become the latest state to consider such a law, joining a list that includes Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont. Many of these bills have been introduced with the backing of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a mechanism for corporate lobbyists to help write state laws…
AMY GOODMAN: For a discussion on these so-called ag-gag laws, we’re joined by two guests. Will Potter, freelance reporter who’s been covering the bills and ALEC for years, the American Legislative Exchange Council, he runs the blog GreenIsTheNewRed.com. He’s also the author of Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege. And we’re joined by Emily Meredith, the communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance…
EMILY MEREDITH: Sure. Well, the Animal Agriculture Alliance is the largest national coalition of individual farmers and ranchers, veterinarians, processing facilities and a host of national organizations representing basically every protein group. And we work to make sure that there’s a unified voice communicating and engaging with consumers and helping them understand where their food comes from.
And this farm protection legislation, which has been termed ag-gag legislation by the activist community, is extremely important because these undercover videos are harmful to the farm owners where these videos are taped, the farm families that work those farms day in and day out, and the animal agriculture industry truly as a whole. And these videos damage their reputations. They bring harsh criticism. And many of these videos have found no legitimate instances of abuse, but rather use manipulated footage. They show false narrative of the images that are being shown. And they’re meant to shock and awe consumers and to really highlight conduct that the animal activist groups want to put an end to the entire industry. They want to end the animal agriculture industry. And that’s what these videos are about. And that’s why legislation like this is so important. It is because this legislation is meant to protect the right of these people to continue to operate their farms and ranches and to continue to provide food to this hungry country and the world.
AARON MATÉ: Will Potter, you’ve covered this issue extensively. Your thoughts on what are called the ag-gag laws or farm protection laws?
WILL POTTER: Well, there is certainly a lot of truth to what you just said. I mean, these undercover investigations have created a lot of distrust with the industry and really questioned where people are getting their meat and animal products from. It’s important to point out, though, that these investigations have also led to criminal charges across the country. They’ve led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history. They’ve led to ballot initiatives across the country in which consumers are speaking out.
And to frame this as something by animal welfare groups who are seeking to abolish animal agriculture is just disingenuous. The people that are opposed to these bills are people like the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Press Photographers Association. These are not radical extremist animal rights activists; these are everyone who cares about where their food comes from and whether or not they have a right to know about what they’re buying.
AMY GOODMAN: Emily Meredith, your response?
EMILY MEREDITH: Well, I would say that these videos are-they’re showing families, they’re showing farms and slaughterhouses, and they’re basically making them guilty without ever giving them the opportunity to address the allegations that are levied in those videos. They’re not giving them the opportunity to take corrective action. I know that Pete mentioned that they often turn the videos over to the authorities. That is completely-I think that’s disingenuous, when in fact they actually release these videos direct to the media. They send them direct to companies. One of the farms where-that Pete mentioned, they sent the video direct to CNN and to Burger King. And it was in fact the farm owners that turned that footage over to the state prosecutor and took responsibility, fired five of his employees, at least five of his employees, and turned that footage over. And I think that’s-that’s disingenuous.
If you truly care about animal welfare, you’re not going to wait even a minute to report animal abuse. You’re going to see it, you’re going to stop it, and you’re going to say something…
WILL POTTER: I think it’s interesting to say something like the activists are making people who abuse animals and are facing felony animal cruelty charges, in many cases, making them guilty. I mean, it completely restructures the debate away from the people who are actually committing the abuses.
And I think it’s important to point out also that we can’t limit this discussion to what’s being described as criminal activity. Although these investigations have certainly led to criminal charges across the country, much of what these investigators are documenting are actually standard industry practices…
AARON MATÉ: Emily, does the industry have safeguards in place that you think counter what Will is saying is needed, which is people investigating and doing monitoring of these farms?
EMILY MEREDITH: Oh, for sure. I mean, I think the last thing that the industry needs is activist groups that really wish to see a vegan world, quote-unquote, “policing” them…
AMY GOODMAN: Will Potter, what about Emily Meredith’s points that the vast majority of farms are family farms and that they successfully monitor themselves?
WILL POTTER: It’s completely nonexistent. Old MacDonald’s farm just does not exist anymore. We’re talking about nine to 10 billion animals raised for food every year. These are not little red barns dotting the countryside. These are industrial operations, in some cases with a million birds on a single farm…
AMY GOODMAN: And a point that Emily Meredith made about if you see abuse, if you do get in there and you do film it, you should have to turn the film over within 24 hours, what is your response to that, Will Potter?
WILL POTTER: I think there are a couple things to point out. One is that this doesn’t allow for a systemic or a multi-abuse pattern to be exposed. For instance, no one would go to the FBI or to the police and say that they should bust the mob after catching one illegal activity. And I think that’s really the same situation here. Do we want to see one aberrant behavior, or do we want to see what is happening every single day on these farms to get a complete picture of what’s happening and how our food is being processed?…
AMY GOODMAN: Where does ALEC fit into this picture, this organization where corporate heads and legislators get together and write legislation?
WILL POTTER: So, I think most of your listeners are familiar with ALEC, because Democracy Now! has reported on it quite a bit. But the way the group functions is by taking thousands of dollars of donations from corporations, and in exchange for that money, these corporations are allowed to draft model legislation. And these model bills are introduced around the country without any fingerprints tying them to the industries that crafted or are attempting to craft the law, so most people have no idea where these bills are actually coming from. Meanwhile, ALEC mobilizes lawmakers around the country. For instance, in Utah, my reporting on the ag-gag bill there showed that the Senate, as it-the Utah Senate that passed the bill, over half of the supporting votes came from ALEC members. I mean, we really have no idea of the true scope of this organization, but it’s clear, especially with this wave of ag-gag bills, that ALEC bills has been a driving force behind these attempts to criminalize activists.
Especially revealing is the way that power-talker Emily completely ignored Amy’s question about ALEC’s involvement. As I said, Pay attention to what she says. She very speaks very powerfully (physically), conveying the impression that she’s up to speed, believes in her cause and is on a righteous mission. But she hardly makes sense. She doesn’t want activists to pause when they discover wrongdoing, but she does! Other things she says are just laughable, such as when she states, essentially, that there is no large-scale industrial farming going on, but only small family-owned farms everywhere that she, and her partners, care soooo much about.
Notice, also, how she launches the transparent ploy of demonizing the animal rights activists so as to scare off the rest of us who might not fully agree with all the positions of all the activists. Aaron Maté asked Emily whether the industry has “safeguards in place that you think counter what Will is saying is needed, which is people investigating and doing monitoring of these farms?” She responded with “Oh, for sure. I mean, I think the last thing that the industry needs is activist groups that really wish to see a vegan world, quote-unquote, “policing” them.” Potter said it best though: “And to frame this as something by animal welfare groups who are seeking to abolish animal agriculture is just disingenuous. The people that are opposed to these bills are people like the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Press Photographers Association. These are not radical extremist animal rights activists; these are everyone who cares about where their food comes from and whether or not they have a right to know about what they’re buying.”
Fascism, setting aside complicated, overly involved definitions, obtains when the political class and the capitalist class join forces, consciously, in order to run the country (or world) free from input from anyone else. The majority is cut out of decision-making and given fake democracy and undemocratic, elite-serving electoral politics to enable it to believe, if it is willing, that if people can vote, then they have democracy and therefore don’t have to look for it. Undemocratic electoral politics include parties and politicians that are one way or another pro-corporatocracy. Politicians who listen to the people are kept out and if they still get into the political arena, they are marginalized, primarily by being vastly outnumbered. Regular voters are therefore presented with corporatocracy-approved parties and candidates. No matter who gets elected, no matter which party forms government, the neoliberal, anti-people, anti-green system is perpetuated. That whole system very much depends on a sophisticated propaganda system that is able to manufacture consent that is in conformity with an ideology that, while it possesses no true coherence, nevertheless serves elites and special capitalist interests. ALEC is a purely fascist organization.
> Fascism Watch from the Third World Traveler website
> ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) Exposed
from the website:
** ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door. **
> “Speaking on the condition we conceal his identity, “Pete” has secretly captured animal abuse on farms and slaughterhouses after applying to work at the location.” – Democracy Now
> State Policy Network / SPN (an ALEC-connected program of and by and for the elite)
> GreenIsTheNewRed – The blog of Will Potter, activist and writer and author of the book “Green Is The New Red.” Remember how the rightwingers used to claim to be protecting everyone from the commies, or reds? (Indeed; Kirkus Book Reviews notes that “In this hard-hitting debut, journalist Potter likens the Justice Department targeting of environmentalists today to McCarthyism in the 1950s… A shocking exposé of judicial overreach.” See that full review here: “Green Is The New Red – An Insider’s Account Of A Social Movement Under Siege” by Will Potter) It’s not hard to remember. They still do it, although it’s not alone among bogeyman that our fascist leaders need for propaganda purposes. They will now protect us from terrorists as well, and not just Al Qaeda, as the above linked-to Democracy episode attests.
> “Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime” by Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times
> “Remembering Fascism: Learning from the Past,” by Noam Chomsky
An excerpt from Chomsky’s above linked-to article on TruthDig follows:
Reading Joe Stack’s manifesto and a great deal more like it, I find myself recovering childhood memories and much more that I did not then understand. The Weimar Republic was the peak of western civilization in the sciences and the arts, also regarded as a model of democracy. Through the 1920s, the traditional liberal and conservative parties entered into inexorable decline, well before the process was intensified by the Great Depression. The coalition that elected General Hindenburg in 1925 was not very different from the mass base that swept Hitler into office eight years later, compelling the aristocratic Hindenburg to select as chancellor the “little corporal” he despised. As late as 1928, the Nazis had less than 3 percent of the vote. Two years later, the most respectable Berlin press was lamenting the sight of the many millions in this “highly civilized country” who had “given their vote to the commonest, hollowest and crudest charlatanism.” The public was becoming disgusted with the incessant wrangling of Weimar politics, the service of the traditional parties to powerful interests and their failure to deal with popular grievances. They were drawn to forces dedicated to upholding the greatness of the nation and defending it against invented threats in a revitalized, armed and unified state, marching to a glorious future, led by the charismatic figure who was carrying out “the will of eternal Providence, the Creator of the universe,” as he orated to the mesmerized masses. By May 1933, the Nazis had largely destroyed not only the traditional ruling parties, but even the huge working-class parties, the Social Democrats and Communists, along with their very powerful associations. The Nazis declared May Day 1933 to be a workers holiday, something the left parties had never been able to achieve. Many working people took part in the enormous patriotic demonstrations, with more than a million people at the heart of Red Berlin, joining farmers, artisans, shopkeepers, paramilitary forces, Christian organizations, athletic and riflery clubs, and the rest of the coalition that was taking shape as the center collapsed. By the onset of the war, perhaps 90 percent of Germans were marching with the brown shirts.
As I mentioned, I am just old enough to remember those chilling and ominous days of Germany’s descent from decency to Nazi barbarism, to borrow the words of the distinguished scholar of German history Fritz Stern. He tells us that he has the future of the United States in mind when he reviews “a historic process in which resentment against a disenchanted secular world found deliverance in the ecstatic escape of unreason.”
The world is too complex for history to repeat, but there are nevertheless lessons to keep in mind. There is no shortage of tasks for those who choose the vocation of critical intellectuals, whatever their station in life. They can seek to sweep away the mists of carefully contrived illusion and reveal the stark reality. They can become directly engaged in popular struggles, helping to organize the countless Joe Stacks who are destroying themselves and maybe the world and to join them in leading the way the way to a better future.
> Joseph Andrew Stack’s suicide ‘essay’ can be examined (so far) at this website address: “Joe Stack STATEMENT: Alleged Suicide Note From Austin Pilot Posted Online”
Joseph Andrew Stack