Harper’s Magazine on Ag-Gag

by Will Potter on June 19, 2013

in Terrorism Legislation

Harpers-1307-302x410Harper’s Magazine asked me to submit a letter on ag-gag legislation for the current issue. You can read the letter, along with a response by Temple Grandin and others, at the Harper’s website. Mine is below:

It’s telling that the photographs accompanying Ted Conover’s report on working in an industrial slaughterhouse [“The Way of All Flesh,” May] show only living animals and the nearby town. Slaughterhouses are not places we want to see; and, more important, they are not places the meat industry wants us to see. With this fact in mind, state legislators across the country have done the industry’s bidding, introducing bills criminalizing the photographing and video recording of factory farms and slaughterhouses.

“Ag-gag” laws were passed in Iowa, Missouri, and Utah last year. In Nebraska, where Conover worked undercover as a Food Safety and Inspection Service meat inspector, the state legislature is currently debating one. This legislation has a chilling effect on whistle-blowing and on reporting like Conover’s. Last month, prosecutors in Utah charged a woman for filming a slaughterhouse from the side of the road. The charges were eventually dropped, but the law remains on the books. It’s important that activists and journalists — whose work has exposed horrific animal cruelty, led to criminal charges against the industry, and prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history — be protected from criminal prosecution.

Will Potter
Washington, D.C.

Previous post:

Next post: