Animal Crush Videos Are Protected by the First Amendment

Animal snuff films are protected by the First Amendment.

Yes. Recording and exhibiting the torture and murder of animals is a constitutionally protected activity in the United States.

This ruling comes courtesy of one Simeon Timothy “Sim” Lake, a judge in the U.S. District Court in Houston. Remember Enron? Well, Judge Lake is the guy who  gave executive Jeffrey Skilling the minimum possible sentence and vacated Ken Lay’s convictions, allowing his family to keep his ill-gotten gains.

Thank heavens Lake’s is not the final say, since an appellate court and the Supreme Court could both overrule him.

Lake’s chance to commit this abomination on American law came when a couple, Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice, filmed Richards torturing puppies, kittens, rabbits and others to death. They were charged with criminal violations of a law that was passed by Congress in one of its rare lucid moments. The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 prohibits photographing or videotaping acts “in which 1 or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious body injury.”

That law was based on Congress’s finding that ”serious criminal acts of extreme animal cruelty are integral to the creation, sale, distribution, advertising, marketing, and exchange of animal crush videos.”

The couple was facing criminal charges based on several incidents, including one where Richards stomped a cat, then ground the heel of her shoe into the animal’s eye socket.

Judge Lake, a Reagan appointee, didn’t see the difference between doing and videotaping that and the “humane slaughter of a stolen cow,” so he decided the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act was too broad and prohibited things that should have been protected as free speech. For some reason the explicit exception in the Act for “the slaughter of animals for food” wasn’t enough for Lake.

At least he recognized that the actions in the video were “disturbing and horrid.”

The Richards/Justice case was the first one brought under the 2010 Crush Video law. The pair still faces criminal charges for the animal abuse itself. The question Judge Lake’s ruling raises is whether they can face additional charges for taping what they did.

The First Amendment acknowledges that certain forms of expression are not worthy of constitutional protection. “Fighting words,” for example, “are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.” Crush videos certainly aren’t essential to develop any ideas or get at any truth, and any benefit they may have is to help sadistic perverts get off. That benefit is outweighed by pretty much any positive consideration at all, and certainly by preventing the torture and painful death of innocent animals.

Judge Lake acknowledged in his opinion that child pornography should not be protected by the First Amendment because, among other reasons, banning it would reduce the supply, which could dry up the market for these products. Whether or not the economic argument makes sense, the motivation behind this rule should apply in this case: to reduce and eventually end harm to children forced to participate in the production of pornography. Surely preventing the torture of animals is a compelling reason to ban crush videos.

On the other hand, our government condones any number of ways to torture animals, from factory farming to zoos to research laboratories. With such low regard for animals’ basic well-being, it isn’t all that surprising that even a consideration as objectionable as the sexual urges of sickos outweighs it.


Related Stories:

Victory! Obama Signs the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act

Supreme Court Overturns Law Protecting Animals

Will Dog Fighting Videos be Protected by Freedom of Speech?


Photo credit: Fuse


Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore2 years ago

Signed the petition.

Enoch C Gould
Enoch C. Gould3 years ago

Frankly, I believe that it is pretty ridiculous to attempt to consider a video of a living, sentient creature, which was broadcasted to gain popularity for the abuser, to be included in "freedom of speech".
Thanks for reading and considering, everyone!
God bless all of you! Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior!

Linda M.
Linda M4 years ago


DAVID sanders4 years ago

Just like many words written down with good intention, time and corrupt humans twist these worthy intentions to suit their own devious aims. Many legal documents end up as " GREY AREAS". This is fine for the lawyers and judges who profit from this unintended scenario. Judges are just humans, with weird ideas , open to corruption from others. Their powerful job allows them to apply their warped personal opinions. Child porn and torture is an obscenity to any decent human being, so how does animal torture differ ? I am not a fan of religion but does not the bible say " THOU SHALT NOT KILL ! " - - IT DOES NOT SAY THOU SHALT NOT KILL JUST HUMANS. The trouble with the bible is it has been cherry picked and altered through the mists of time to suit mankind, just like the amendment .

Rebecca Noiseux
Rebecca Noiseux4 years ago

You tell me, what is the difference between doing this to an animal and the murders that are all ready in prison. They could use the first amendent for themselves. It has been linked animal abuse moves up to a use of a human. Get this judge out of the system. Send these freaks where they belong.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

ER C4 years ago

Joan H. ________ you've got that RIGHT !

The Wrath of GOD is more than what can be fathomed.

I pray that this horror stops now.

In Jesus' name. Amen.

Thanks for your comment :-))

Joan Harlin
Joan Harlin4 years ago

The vileness of the people involved in these wicked, depraved acts will come back to haunt them when God punishes them for harming the innocents. If the people involved in these acts were harmed as children, then they should think about how that felt for them. God punishes cruelty, that they can count on.

Bernice R.
Bernice R.4 years ago

This is about the dumbest thing that I've ever heard. His own words that child porn should be protected by the first amendment. In other words he thinks he can overrule the US government. Our judicial system is too full of itself. They are there to see that our laws are upheld not make up their own.

Misha L.
Irene L4 years ago

What kind of law IS law in the USA?This judge should be thrown off the bench immediately. This is not the American way to treat and protect animals or punish psychos like Richards and Co. to the fullest. Overruling a federal ? Well, God help us if this ruling makes an example for animals and animal abusers.