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Friday, September 30, 2016

In most state legislatures today, “off the wall” has become the political center, and bizarre bills are no longer unusual.

Still, it seems strange that legislators in so many states — including Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Vermont — have simultaneously been pushing “ag-gag” bills that are not merely outrageous, but downright un-American. Each is intended to quash free speech by banning journalists, whistleblowers, workers and other citizens from exposing illegal, abusive or unethical treatment of animals that are incarcerated in the factory-feeding operations of huge corporations.

Our nation’s founders mounted a revolution to establish our free-press and free-speech rights, enshrining them in the First Amendment to ensure the free exchange of ideas — even when the Powers That Be didn’t like the message that such freedoms produce. In fact, the Founders knew from hard experience that the protection of those freedoms was especially essential when the Powers That Be have something they’re eager to hide from the citizenry.

Yet here comes a mess of so-called “conservatives” attempting to use state government to outlaw messengers who shine a light on corporate wrongdoing — turning those who expose crimes into criminals. Even kookier, these repressive laws declare that truth-tellers who so much as annoy or embarrass the corporate owner of the animal factory are guilty of “an act of terrorism.”

Oddly, each of these state proposals is practically identical, even including much of the same wording. That’s because, unbeknownst to the public and other legislators, the bills don’t originate from the state lawmakers who introduce them. Instead, they come from a Washington-based corporate front group named ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council.

This infamous “bill mill” periodically convenes its corporate funders to write model bills that serve their special interests. Then ALEC farms out bills to its trusted cadre of state lawmakers across the country, who introduce them as their own, not mentioning the corporate powers behind them.

The secretive ALEC network produced the model ag-gag bill in 2002 and began shipping it from state to state under the ominous tile, “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act.”

The freedom-busting terrorists in this fight are not those who reveal the abuse, but the soulless factory-farm profiteers in the corporate suites and the cynical lawmakers who serve them.

  • Sand_Cat

    Calling those who expose criminal acts and general malfeasance “terrorists” is one of many reasons why the term is as meaningless as “communist” and “socialist.”

  • Protecting the right of unscrupulous entrepreneurs to exploit human beings is the reason effective immigration law reform has not taken place, it is the reason an embarrassing status quo has prevaled for decades, and it is the reason state legislatures are going out of their way to protect their donors at the expense of our core values and the most basic tenets of our Constitution. Shame on those who claim to embrace Judeo-Christian values and preach freedom and democracy abroad, while engaging in despicable human violations at home.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Conservatives are constantly harping about following the constitution, while simultaneously trashing it. Something always puzzled me—if you are a stickler for rights per the Bill of rights, why is the ACLU considered a “far left” group, when in actuality it should be a “far right group”? That is if righties actually believe in this Constitution. After all, when you think of the extreme left, such as Communism, they are not exactly in to individual rights.

  • Why don’t the Progressives have a mirror-image group of like minded people who are willing to counterbalance the extreme positions of the ALEC writers?

    It should be fairly easy to find people who are willing to write proposed legislation to this end. And, there are a few progressives with deep pockets, as well as the masses who may not have deep pockets, who would be willing to contribute to this cause.

    The reality is this. YOU MUST FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE!

    Otherwise, the DARK SIDE wins.

    • Kansan

      You’re being utopian.

      The purpose of ALEC is to protect corporations who are willing to support it with a considerable amount of money. The corporations get to write the laws and the ALEC stooges disseminate them around the U.S.

      What would be the draw for corporations to support a body that would hold their feet to the fire?

    • tobyspeeks

      Good question. Maybe because progressives think for themselves?

    • RobertCHastings

      The reason is, very simply, words walk, money talks. If those who actually believe that these agricultural giants must be held to account had the money behind them that is behind the agricultural giants, then something could reasonably expect to be accomplished. The era of the family farm is long gone, and the profitability of agriculture is found in the mass production of commodities. The more easily and quickly those commodities can be produced (especially if they weigh more, or provide more calories, protein, carbs, etc.) the more can be made from them. A small farmer cannot produce 1200 pound beef cattle in nearly the short time that big AG can. A salmon farm can produce market-ready fish much cheaper than catching them wild. Canteloupes grown and harvested as quickly as possible bring in much more money that carefully grown and harvested melons. What is a unifying thread in all of this is that the commercially produced food most of us consume is, in many ways, inferior to that naturally produced stuff that costs us so much more. Range-fed beef are NOT laced with antibacterial and growth hormones. Garden-grown vegetables do NOT have the listeria or salmonella issues commercially grown products do. And, believe it or not, wild-caught salmon is much better for you.

  • Yeah that’s bad. Did they think people wouldn’t hear about it?

  • dtgraham

    In a rare display of support for progressives, the NRA released a statement on this saying that none of this would be happening if the cows and pigs had guns.

    Coulda happened.