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Why conservatives shouldn’t support ‘Ag-Gag’ laws

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For the most part, conservatism is black and white, especially when compared to progressive ideologies that dwell in contradictions and allow activists to make a living telling lies. But there are circumstances that demand a deeper examination and possibly a little soul-searching to help decide which conservative stance should prevail. One example of this is with “Ag-Gag” laws that attempt to prevent undercover filming of animal mistreatment on farms.

There have been so many undercover investigations at farms that it’s becoming hard to be shocked by what goes on at some of them. The mistreatment of animals at some farms is unambiguous; we’re not talking about poor facilities or crowded cages. We’re talking about physically harming animals while they’re alive and feeling pain. In some cases, the pain is clearly intense as some farm workers seem to get a thrill out of it.

Ag-Gag laws make it illegal for people to sneak onto farms with the intention of filming animal cruelty. Many Republicans support these laws because they help the agricultural and livestock industries that have had rough times over recent decades. Some justify it by claiming it’s easy to find abuses in any industry, and piecing together weeks or even months of footage of abuse to make ten minute videos intended to shut a farm down is unfair.

This is a case in which a conservative-backed industry has appealed to conservative lawmakers for protection against a generally progressive activism topic, fighting animal cruelty. It would seem on the surface that Ag-Gag laws are, therefore, conservative. They’re not. They’re an attack on the 1st Amendment, not to mention a preventative measure designed to stop crimes from being exposed.

Should we support American farms, their owners, and their employees? Yes. But that support does not give conservatives license to suppress a part of the 1st Amendment or to ignore crimes like animal cruelty. We must take the high road whenever it’s presented, and in this case that high road means siding with progressive activists to prevent farms and their workers from committing these crimes.

This video from John Stossel shows both sides of the Ag-Gag debate. In the end, he rightly concludes that subverting part of the 1st Amendment and enabling animal cruelty is inexcusable, even in support of the farming industry.

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