The dumb new animal cruelty federal law

There’s a new federal law regarding animal cruelty. Via The Daily Mail:

Donald Trump signed the first animal cruelty bill of his presidency on Monday, outlawing narrow types of egregious violence usually committed for the purpose of videotaping them.

The Senate unanimously passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act this month after a similar House vote in late October. It applies to non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, building on a 2010 law that criminalized the distributon of so-called ‘crush’ videos—footage meant to satisfy an unusual sexual fetish—by also outlawing the production of the films.

Producing a crush video typically consists of filming a small animal being killed by stomping on it. But the new law expands the definition to include animals that are ‘purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.’

President Trump said the bill would stop people from sharing footage of animal cruelty. ‘It is important that we combat these heinous and sadistic acts of cruelty,’ he said.

The way the president talked it seems “crushing” is an epidemic causing panic across the nation, and the states weren’t doing anything about it. It had to be up to the federal government, and the federal government alone, to ride in on a white horse and save all of us from this horribly awful situation.

Not quite.

The Daily Mail already mentioned it but there’s a law called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 already on the books. It’s a redone version of a 1999 law the U.S. Supreme Court ruled violated the First Amendment. The 2010 law defined “crushing” as a weird sexual fetish that involves killing or maiming animals, a gross and distasteful act, and banned the production of any videos. Those convicted of the crime face a fine and prison sentence of no more than seven years. There’s also a note admitting individual states and the District of Columbia were punishing people who “crushed” animals and intimated the videos were also covered by state and DC law. The only change from the 2010 law to the 2019 law is it adds the act of crushing to the federal penal code.

It seems these laws are just “feel good” laws so people can believe their federal government is out ‘doing something’ even though the states are handling the issue just fine. It also appears to be the kind of thing incumbents can use during election season as a way to justify going back to Washington, DC. It’s certainly not “common sense” as suggested by the president and those at yesterday’s bill signing. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars, that’s for sure, especially since a grand total of
two people have been prosecuted by the feds and they were already in state prison serving much longer sentences.

Color me doubtful this law will protect any animals, but, hey, it’ll look good in a political ad and could probably get a few extra bucks and endorsements from various lobbying groups. The next time a politician starts pushing ideas like this, maybe we should all take a minute or two to research whether it’s worth the trouble or the growth of the federal government (even if by just a jail cell or two).

There are enough federal laws on the books. Why this needs to be added is anyone’s guess.