Ken Paulson on ‘ag-gag’ laws

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Photo by Steve Matzker/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Chickens at the University of Illinois poultry farm on March 7, 2013.

This week Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center in Nashville writes about ‘ag-gag’ laws for USA Today:

“Imagine Upton Sinclair with an iPhone.

Sinclair went undercover in 1904 to document squalid conditions in Chicago’s meatpacking plants, leading to his muckraking novel The Jungle. His reporting led to new public health laws two years later. In today’s social media world, Upton’s expose would have gone viral. Sure, we would have lost a classic book, but just consider the retweets.

That possibility unsettles some in the agriculture industry. Concern about videos of alleged animal abuse reaching a global audience has inspired a new wave of legislation across the USA.

Bills pending in at least nine states would limit videos and photographs on farms or force video-takers to immediately turn them over to the authorities. The reporting requirement sounds like an effort to expose wrongdoing, but it has just the opposite effect. Farm employees who witness unsafe or unsanitary practices aren’t about to inform on their bosses.”

Read more at USA Today

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