We received many emails asking us why Ron Paul had voted against a bill (HR 5566) that would prohibit interstate commerce in “crush videos”, i.e. videos that show small animals being abused or killed.
Ron Paul: I voted against the legislation in question for two reasons:
First, although the acts portrayed in these “crush” videos truly are horrific, it is important to remember such acts already are illegal under animal cruelty laws in virtually every state in America. The Constitution limits federal crimes to a few specified areas, while reserving to states the authority to regulate almost all other criminal matters.
Under the Constitution, therefore, animal cruelty is a matter for state law. Individuals who participate in these sickening videos should be arrested and prosecuted by state or local police.
Second, the legislation raises First Amendment concerns. While all decent people abhor mistreatment of animals, would a hunting instructional video that shows live game being shot be considered a depiction of animal cruelty under this bill? Would a video showing meat processing or fur processing be made illegal by this bill?
While it is simple for Washington to pass a law to appease our understandable sense of outrage, we should be very careful about the slippery slope presented when Congress attempts to regulate or criminalize content.