We join the rest of the world in mourning the brave staff of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, gunned down by religious fanatics for defending freedom of the press.
Meat industry fanatics in the U.S. have devised a more subtle means of stifling freedom of the press. The states of Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah have enacted “ag-gag” laws that impose criminal penalties on investigators seeking to expose animal abuses and safety violations in factory farms.
According to an Associated Press report in yesterday’s papers, four members of an animal protection organization were charged with violating Utah’s ag-gag law. They sought to document the daily transport of thousands of pigs from the infamous Circle Four factory farm in Cedar City (UT) to the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Los Angeles.
Ag-gag laws are clearly unconstitutional and are being challenged in federal courts. Assaults on press freedom need to be confronted wherever they rear their ugly heads, even when they assume the legitimacy of a state law.