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On the other hand, many supporters of ag gag laws argue they are necessary to counter the rhetoric of anti-meat zealots.
“I would argue that it’s not for the animals,” says Randy Parker of the Utah Farm Bureau, discussing why activists film such videos, “but it is politically motivated for their anti-meat agenda.”
Yes, of course it is. But one needn’t share one shred of support for an anti-meat agenda to ask if “politically motivated” speech is not to be protected under the First Amendment, then what speech will be protected?
Animals are not people. They don’t have rights. As a result, people are responsible for the degree of welfare they will provide animals kept as pets, those used for economic gain (as with a race horse), or those raised for food.
When animals are to be turned into food, investigative pieces by journalists, animal-rights groups, and others can help people make better choices. And by “better” I mean more informed choices—should we both choose to care enough to be informed and to act on that information—rather than “forced to make decisions some animal rights groups think we should make.”
Non-vegans have to decide for themselves how much (if at all) they care about how the animals they are going to eat are treated on the farm and at the slaughterhouse.
Videos like those shot by COK provide valuable information to consumers who want it. Ag gag laws, which stifle this flow of information, protect a particular category of business while offering no public benefit, and impose a prior restraint on speech, are wrong at their very core.