Robert Stevens was convicted in Federal Court of violating a federal statute which prohibits taking and distributing images of animal cruelty and sentenced to over three years in prison. The bases of the conviction were three documentaries he produced. Two videos documented pit bull fighting and the other was a hunting video with the use of dogs.
The 3rd Circuit Court overturned the convictions but the federal prosecutors have been successful in getting the U.S. Supreme court to hear the case. Mr. Stevens may still go to jail. This is one to watch.
For more info go to http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs051/1101879232762/archive/1102607469197.html
06-14-2009, 05:58 PM
Depends on the nature of the pit bull fighting.
You just fell into the emotional trap promoted by HSUS, which is very active in this case. Read the link.
Part of his conviction is for filming dogs while hunting. The conviction does not rely on allegations that the accused in anyway encouraged or abetted animal cruelty ---Only that he filmed it.
06-14-2009, 06:41 PM
Interesting case and an example of the "slippery slope" in action.
First, of course, it is a clear case of judicial activism in which the judges overturned a statute duly adopted by Congress, subverting the will of the people's representatives. To make it worse, the case was argued on behalf of the appellant by a public defender at taxpayer expense. Happily, I agree with their decision.
The bill overturned was introduced by Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-CA, and in the Senate by Senator Robert Smith R-NH. The slippery slope in this case begins with New York v. Ferber, a Supreme Court decision affirming laws prohibiting child pornography. While I in no way favor child pornography, the reasoning used in that case was relatively broad and opened the door to regulating the content of speech where the government established a "compelling interest" in doing so. The three dissenting judges in this case (appointed by Clinton, G.W. Bush, and Reagan) argue that the government successfully defined a compelling interest consistent with the standards of the Ferber case. The majority decision argued that they did not.
By agreeing to hear the case, the SCOTUS puts itself in the position of having to either extend or constrain the guidelines established in Ferber. As a photographer, I was unhappy with the Ferber case, which arguably made it a crime to take nude photographs of my grandchildren and resulted in Ashcroft's 3-year persecution of Jock Sturgis, one of the better photographers of the 20th century. This case, if the government is successful on appeal, could threaten many if not most of the photos I take at field events.
06-14-2009, 07:02 PM
The logic behind the original bill is shown in this excerpt from the Congressional Quarterly:
"Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Mr. President, today, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1887, legislation that overwhelmingly passed the House to ban interstate commerce in videos depicting acts of cruelty against animals.
Specifically, this legislation would ban the interstate shipment of videos that record women, often wearing stiletto heeled shoes, slowly crushing live animals to death. Animal victims include hamsters, kittens, puppies, and even monkeys. Viewers purchase these videos for $15 to $300 and apparently derive some sexual gratification from watching these horrifying act of animal cruelty.
The Humane Society of the United States, which brought this issue to the attention of law enforcement agencies, has discovered that there are more than 2,000 video titles that include crushing. One such business in California has labeled itself Steponit. I really have never heard of more bizarre, more perverse, and more sickening acts that this. This goes way beyond the bounds of even of our most wild imaginations.
The people in this industry should face serious penalties for their sick acts of cruelty. Fines and jail time are appropriate societal responses. State anti-cruelty statues are not adequate in addressing this problem. It has been difficult for enforcement agents to determine when the practice occurred, where it occurred, and who has been involved, since feet and the crushing of the animals are the only images on the video.
Here is a case where a restriction on interstate commerce in these products— in the age of the Internet, which facilitates this trade—is absolutely necessary. We have to stop the purveyors of this filth, indecency and cruelty. This is not the harmless act of few people out of the mainstream. This is an extreme antisocial act, where innocent animals are harmed for the profits of producers and the mere sexual gratification
In addition to the harm that the animals endure, there is an additional reason to crack down on this industry. There is a well-established link between acts of violence against animals and later acts of violence perpetrated against people. People sometimes rehearse their violence on animals before turning their violent intentions against people."