On December 9, President Barack Obama signed into law The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, which criminalizes the creation, sale, and marketing of videos that depict small animals intentionally being tortured and killed in what are more commonly referred to as “crush videos” or “crush porn.”
Crush videos were illegal in the U.S. until the Supreme Court overturned the 1999 Crush Act with a vote of 8-1 in the case of U.S. v. Stevens last April with the position that it was overly broad and violated the First Amendment right to free speech.
The 1999 law in question, which covered the creation, sale and possession of depictions of animal cruelty was targeted at the sales of “crush videos,” which show women crushing small animals to death with their bare feet or high heels and is also considered to fall in the realm of sexual fetishes. Excluded was anything that contained “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.”
The vote overturned the conviction of Robert Stevens, who was found guilty of selling videotapes of dogfights in 2005 under the guise that “he is an educator, and his subject is the history and status of pit bulls,” despite reports of his involvement in the dog fighting world.
Since then, a new stronger version of the bill was drafted and sponsored by Senators Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Richard Burr, R-N.C. and Jeff Merkely, D-Ore., and Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., and Gary Peters, D-Mich. Exemptions for videos of hunting, fishing and trapping were also made. The penalty for violating the law now carries up to seven years in prison.
While the First Amendment is vital to our ability to engage in free expression and what has value may be considered a slippery slope, most of us would agree that materials containing anything showing the brutal torture and death of helpless animals and serves only prurient interests simply have no inherent value, and fall on the scale of obscenity or child pornography, which are afforded no constitutional protection.
“The ASPCA has long recognized the dangerous potential for animal cruelty to lead to more serious crimes. By banning crush videos, our federal government is potentially helping to protect the community from other serious crimes and sending a clear message to individuals seeking to profit from the suffering of helpless animals. This law protects both animals and free speech by focusing specifically on crush videos, which clearly have no place in our society,” said Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects.