North Carolina Police Raid Butterball Turkey Farm after ‘Mercy for Animals’ Undercover Video Exposes Horrific Cruelty
Police in North Caroline have raided a Butterball turkey farm after an undercover video shot by anti-animal cruelty activists emerged showing horrific acts of abuse.
Shockingly, the laudable act of exposing such cruelty via undercover video could be prosecutable as terrorism under a Bush-era law aimed at protecting agribusiness corporations against muckraking activists.
The Daily Mail reports that deputies from the Hoke County Sheriff’s office raided the Butterball turkey farm near Garner this morning following an undercover investigation by the advocacy group Mercy for Animals. Activists armed with a video camera caught shocking abuse of turkeys on the corporate farm, including employees brutally kicking, stomping and dragging the birds around by their necks. Many turkeys had missing eyes, deformed feet and other injuries; many were also living in horrific conditions and covered in feces and flies.
Butterball, which produces more than a billion pounds (453.6 million kg.) of turkey annually, is no first-time animal cruelty offender. According to the Daily Mail, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) conducted a similar undercover operation at a company farm in Arkansas.
It is hard to argue that exposing awful animal cruelty is anything but praiseworthy. But the F.B.I. considers the Mercy for Animals and PETA investigations to be nothing less than acts of terrorism. The advocacy groups are in violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), an odious piece of legislation that prohibits any person from engaging in certain conduct “for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise,” was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in late 2006.
It’s not just the AETA that has activists concerned. There is also an “Ag Gag” bill introduced in Florida that would criminalize undercover animal cruelty investigations, called “terrorism” by the measure’s sponsors, as well as “eco-terrorism” legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing corporatist lobby group that acts as sort of a dating service matching wealthy corporate donors with for-sale lawmakers.
Many observers are worried that legislation like the AETA may one day be used to defend corporations against legitimate First Amendment-protected activities such as the Occupy Wall Street protests, or “anyone else who threatens business as usual.” And with the United States on the verge of legislating the indefinite military detention of American citizens suspected of being terrorists without charge or trial, there is certain to be a chilling effect on free speech and all sorts of muckraking and whistle blowing activities.
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