Turning people who report corporate crime into criminals

In most state legislatures today, bizarre is not unusual, and off-the-wall has become the political center.

In most state legislatures today, bizarre is not unusual, and off-the-wall has become the political center.

Still, it seems strange that legislators in so many states – from California to Vermont – have simultaneously been pushing “ag-gag” bills that are not merely outrageous, but downright un-American. Each is intended to prevent journalists, whistleblowers, workers and other citizens from exposing illegal, abusive, or unethical corporate treatment of animals confined in factory feeding operations.

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Our nation’s founders mounted a revolution to establish our Constitutional right to a free press and free speech – even if the reigning government doesn’t like the message. Yet here come a mess of so-called “conservatives” using state governments to outlaw messengers who shine a light on corporate wrongdoing – turning those who expose crimes into criminals. Even kookier, these repressive laws declare that truth-tellers who so much as annoy or embarrass the corporate owner of the animal factory are guilty of “an act of terrorism.”

Oddly, each of these state proposals is practically identical, even including much of the same wording. That’s because, unbeknownst to the public and other legislators, the bills don’t originate from the state lawmakers who introduce them, instead coming from a corporate front group named ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council. Lobbyists for corporate funders of ALEC convene periodically to write model bills that serve their corporations’ special interests, then the bills are farmed out to the group’s trusted lawmakers across the country. The secretive ALEC network produced the ag-gag model in 2002, titling it the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act.”

The only terrorists in this fight are the soulless profiteers in the corporate suites and the cynical lawmakers who serve them.

“How ALEC has Undermined Food Safety By Pushing “Ag-Gag’ Laws Across The Country,” thinkprogress.org, March 19, 2013.

“Ag Gag” Bills and Supporters Have Close Ties to ALEC,” www.greenisthenewred.com, April 26, 2012.

“Five More States Consider ‘Ag Gag’ Laws Making It Illegal to Report Factory Farm Abuses,” www.alternet.org, February 27, 2013.

“Gag the Whistleblower: 6 States That Might Criminalize Taping Animal Cruelty,” www.alternet.org, April 8, 2013.

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