Free Speech for Farm Life

By: Lexi Sheeley

Ag-gag is a term used to describe part of the agriculture industry. It typically refers to state laws that forbid undercovering filming of activities on farm grounds or slaughterhouses without consent of the owners or managers. Many slaughterhouses use this law to keep animal activists from being able to record abuse.

Supporters of these laws have argued they protect the industries from negative repercussions, and those who oppose these laws claim the laws are intended to primarily censor animals abuse from the public.

In my opinion, ag gag laws violate the First Amendment, and in a society so gungho on abiding the amendments, such as the Seconds Amendment (the right to bear arms), I’m not sure as to why the ag-gag laws even still apply. As citizens, we have rights to free speech and press. I can see how it would violate the privacy of meatpacking corporations, but we can’t pick and chose which amendements to follow and which to ignore.

Cases regarding these laws have been taken to the Supreme Court time and time again trying to overrule it. Everyday people like you and me have been able to change this law, and I think it’s so very important we try to.

In Iowa, an ag-gag law was passed in 2012. Many states have passed similar laws, yet many haven’t. In this case, it’s obvious why it’s been passed in our state; we’re known for the pork we produce. Allowing whistleblowers (people who expose illegal activity) to record mistreatments in slaughterhouses might shut down  some slaughterhouses throughout the state.

So, what does this have to say? We wouldn’t run into the problem if workers did their job without the extra beatings aimed towards animals. In my opinion, this law should never be overturned and stricter punishments for offenders should take its place.

Though it’s much easier to subject animals to death than to put money and stronger laws into protecting them, it makes my stomach churn, and if I’m alone in this, there will never be change. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how inhumane it is if you disagree. I understand. It’s easier to turn the cheek, right? Yet, I think it’s gone on too long. I can’t express my opinion strong enough, and I hope some day people will see the bigger picture.

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