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The Government Effort to Gag Animal Rights Activists (on Jane Unchained)
Once again, the government is trying to gag us from speaking openly about the abuse of animals in factory farms. I spoke this morning to Jane Velez-Mitchell about what’s happening.
On Thursday, I and my co-defendant Paul Picklesimer will have a hearing to argue against the government of Utah’s attempts to exclude all evidence of “inhumane animal conditions” in a felony trial involving the rescue of two baby pigs – Lily and Lizzie – from the largest pig farm in the nation.
There’s more than our freedom at stake.
If the government is allowed to gag us – criminal defendants! – from speaking openly about the things we saw in a factory farm, this sets a disturbing political precedent for activists anywhere who are trying to blow the whistle on abusive and unlawful conduct at companies across the nation. The lesson will be: we can target you, prosecute you, and prevent you from sharing why you did what you did.
But, more importantly, gagging us will gag the cries of the animals. We hard mother pigs smashing their heads against bars and screaming with such intensity that *we could not hear each others’ voices in the farm.* Every year, hundreds of millions of pigs go through that same experience, as they are shipped to slaughter and pushed down a deadly assembly line. The industry and government know that those voices will induce horror even in a rural jury in Utah. They’ve conceded as much in their motions. But that’s precisely why those voices must be heard. How can we have a fair system of justice, when the most vulnerable people are never heard?
I love Jane. She’s got such energy and passion and empathy. And as a former CNN anchor, she knows how this game is played – the powerful institutions and incentives that shape and distort the facts presented to the public. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. And stay tuned for more.