Target: Roger Goodman, chair of Washington’s House Public Safety Committee
Goal: Don’t criminalize undercover animal welfare investigations.
A new bill proposed in Washington State could silence animal rights activists. The bill, an “Ag-Gag” bill like many others proposed across the country, would allow courts to throw whistleblowers in jail for exposing animal cruelty and other unethical agricultural processes. Though the bill claims to only apply to people who trespass or gain employment through unethical means, it makes it too easy for business owners to harshly punish those who advocate for ethical animal treatment, including employees. If a person takes photos or audio or video recordings without written consent, the bill would classify the action as criminal sabotage, a class B felony.
This bill can’t be allowed to pass. For change to happen, we need whistleblowers to share their findings with the world. The agricultural industry needs major reform, particularly on an individual basis—it’s been over a century since The Jungle was published, first exposing the American public to the horrors of the meat-packing industry, and we’re still finding slaughterhouses that use horrific practices. If change is going to happen, we need whistleblowers to make us aware of what happens in the agricultural industry.
Rather than putting people who hope for change in jail, we need to address the failures of the agricultural industry to use ethical and safe practices. We shouldn’t silence those who point out wrongdoing, we should punish those who are actually doing wrong. Seventy percent of Americans support these undercover investigations. It’s time to ask what’s more important—the happiness of farms and slaughterhouses using abusive practices, or the health and safety of the animals we consumer. Ask the committee reviewing Washington’s new bill to stop this legislation.
Dear Mr. Goodman,
A new bill, H.B. 1104, would criminalize undercover investigations by animal activists. Though the bill seeks to eliminate trespassing and other illegal activities in the name of animal rights, it goes too far in protecting unethical practices.
It takes undercover investigations like the ones this bill wants to eliminate to effect change. Without whistleblowers, we wouldn’t have any idea what goes on behind closed doors, including hazardous and unethical practices. Throwing animal activists in jail for taking pictures or recordings does too much to protect those who allow unethical treatment of animals and not enough to protect those seeking animal welfare.
While I understand the desire to protect these businesses from trespassing and sabotage, charging animal activists with a felony at the word of those they’re trying to expose gives far too much power to people who may also be committing a crime. Please protect whistleblowers and animal activists and don’t pass this legislation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SlimVirgin via Wikimedia Commons