Marchbooks' Blog

October 10, 2009

Manipulating the Constitution by M.J. Claire

I don’t usually venture into the world of politics. I leave that task for Janus. But, this issue came to my attention because it is connected with an animal rights issue – the ‘sport’ of dog fighting (I will never cease to be amazed at the way people have managed to distort the meaning of such a simple word). Merriam-Webster defines sport as physical activity engaged in for pleasure. How is being a voyeur to the pain and suffering of animals a fit for that definition? I digress. But, actually I don’t.

The premise for this post is the repeated abuse and manipulation, by bureaucrats, law makers and politicians, of our Constitution. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution, although not simplistic documents, have a very simple purpose – to protect our democratic freedoms. They were written, and I believe intended, to protect our most fundamental and thus essential, rights as citizens of this country.

Unfortunately, certain factions and special interests have been wielding the Constitution like a hammer, using it to beat others down. Through the judicious use of semantics, this document is being compressed and stretched to the point of breaking. It should be recognized that the Constitution is not a piece of chewing gum. This gratuitous manipulation of the foundation of our government is abusive at best, criminal at worst. A perfect, and very unfortunate, example of this is the case of US v. Stevens. In this instance, the interested parties are trying to justify the filming of dog fighting as being protected by free speech. Stevens, who was convicted of distributing such videos, is claiming that his videos are for educational purposes and thus should be Constitutionally protected.

The question seems simple to me. Who orchestrated the dog fight? If the fights were staged, supported or in any way sponsored by the defendant, if he profited in any way from the sale of those videos, then he is guilty. This is not the case of a documentary filming of animals in nature, nor is it an undercover documentation of animal abuse in foreign countries or the feed animal industry. These scenarios, as I understand it, were orchestrated by people for the purpose of dissemination and profit and Stevens did profit from these videos.

The argument that this kind of video should be protected by the right to free speech is an incredible distortion of the First Amendment. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled that this kind of expression should be protected by this cherished freedom. I am given to understand that the argument went thus; ‘child pornography is “intrinsically related to the sexual abuse of children” and should be banned because the images will continue to harm children long after the abuse has occurred. “While animals . . . [are] worthy of human kindness and human care, one cannot seriously contend that the animals themselves suffer continuing harm by having their images out in the marketplace.”‘

It has to be recognized that, just as child pornography may cause an increase and foster child abuse, it is inarguable that the torture of animals is the first step in the creation of a serial killer. History has shown us numerous examples. But, beyond that, by allowing such content legal protection, we are effectively condoning it and turning a blind eye. What lesson are we teaching our children when we say that the torture of any living thing is acceptable entertainment? We are already doing such a good job of desensitizing these young minds. We are truly on our way to encouraging an ‘anything goes’ society and this is just another step along that unfortunate path.

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