Merkley Announces Bipartisan Effort to Ban Trafficking of Animal Torture VideosSeptember 2, 2010
Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced that he will soon be introducing bipartisan legislation to ban the trafficking of animal cruelty films commonly referred to as “crush videos.” The Oregon Humane Society joined Senator Merkley today in calling on Congress to immediately take action and prevent these abhorrent videos from being sold and distributed across the country.
“Extreme animal cruelty has no place in our society and should be prevented whenever possible,” said Merkley. “Unfortunately, a recent Supreme Court ruling has given people who sell animal cruelty videos a get out of jail free card. I am working to develop and introduce bipartisan legislation in the Senate to rectify the situation and ban the selling and distribution of these videos to protect helpless animals from being tortured.”
"Animal cruelty is a sad fact of life that occurs every day in Oregon and across the United States,” said Sharon Harmon, Executive Director of the Oregon Humane Society. “These so-called ‘crush’ videos appeal to violent individuals who torture animals because the animals can't fight back. We know these are often the same people who engage in violence against people, particularly against women and children. We need to get serious about fighting animal cruelty, and we strongly support Sen. Merkley's efforts to outlaw these horrific videos."
“Crush” films are extreme animal cruelty videos that depict small animals getting tortured or killed by being crushed by humans. In 1999, Congress passed a law making the selling of animal cruelty videos illegal and the market for “crush” videos subsequently disappeared. However, the Supreme Court recently struck down this law on the grounds that it was too broad and was infringing upon first amendment rights.
The new Merkley legislation will be narrowly crafted to address only the sale and distribution of animal cruelty videos and related media in interstate commerce, and not legitimate free speech protected under the First Amendment.
Since the Supreme Court ruling this past April, “crush” videos have begun to resurface on the internet. Even though all 50 states and the District of Columbia have animal cruelty laws, the people producing and selling the videos have found ways to evade state and local laws.