Four Charged for Taking Photos of Pig Farm Under Utah's 'Ag Gag' Law


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Four activists have been charged under Utah's controversial "ag gag" law, which prohibits taking photos and video, recording audio, or obtaining access "under false pretences" at places "used for the production of livestock, poultry, livestock products, or poultry products."

The activists, all part of the Bethesda, Maryland-based Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), pled not guilty to "agricultural operation interference" and trespass. Police say the group drove onto private property at Circle Four Farms in Milford, Utah, and took illegal photographs. FARM attorney T. Matthew Phillips, said the activists were on a public road, photographing Circle Four Farms buildings for a project documenting pigs' journey from farm to slaughterhouse.

This is only the second time an ag gag law has been enforced in the United States. 

Seven states—including Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah—have passed so-called ag gag laws, which make it a crime to record farm animals or workers without a farm owner's permission. Only Utah has attempted to enforce the law previously, in 2013, after Amy Meyer recorded a video of a sick cow being pushed by a bulldozer. The charge was dropped because Meyer had been filming from a public street; she's now part of a federal lawsuit challenging Utah's law.  

Reason columnist Baylen Linnekin, director of the Keep Food Legal Foundation and a professor at George Mason University Law School, has been vocal about his opposition to these laws, which he sees as "wrongheaded", overbroad, and unconstitutional. "If an individual or group is trespassing on or otherwise sabotaging a farm operation, then that individual or group can and should face civil suit and/or criminal charges," he writes on the Keep Food Legal website. "Photography, though, is a separate issue. One need not support the means or goals of animal rights groups to recognize that members of these groups should enjoy the same First Amendment freedoms as everyone else." 

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  1. Semi-related: In light of CA’s Fois Gras ban recently being struck down, a fascinating article about the production of Fois Gras in the United States:…..not-u.html

      1. It’s covered in the article. They’re lazy and going after the low hanging fruit, partly because of class envy.

        1. Are you suggesting Gawker writes about stuff they are profoundly ignorant of? Shocked! Shocked, I am!

      2. Written in Gawker’s house style: “Junior High”. Or maybe nobody over 14 writes for them.

      3. He’s very upset. I feel terrible for him. But I’m sure his little tantrum made him feel better, and isn’t that what counts?

      4. Vlad the Impaler probably liked impaling people with stakes up the butt. Doesn’t make it okay.

        This made me laugh. Yeah, I am an asshole.

        1. Yeah, I am an asshole.

          Care for a stake?

        2. Agreed. And why couldn’t hollywood have made that the way to slay vampires? They really lack vision.

        3. This made me laugh. Yeah, I am an asshole.

          They didn’t deserve it, but I understand it.

      5. I wonder how much people who write for Gawker get paid. I mean, they get a lot of hits, but the reason they get hits is because Gawker is a clickfarm, not because of any importance or talent on their own part. As such, they are 100% interchangeable with any other unemployed writer in New York, and there are approximately 300,000 of those.

        Plus there was that time Adam Weinstein wrote a hilariously whiny article about how poor he is. Weinstein is such a terrible writer that it’s not particularly surprising he’s poor. When you’re the 700,000th best political writer in America, you’re not going to get paid the big bucks.

        1. It can’t be chickenfeed or so many of them wouldn’t be able to live even in the shittier parts of Brooklyn.

          Of course, if they pay them in anything other than Crayons, they are paying them to much.

          (Denton makes plenty of money though, otherwise he wouldn’t run Gawker Media through a Cayman Islands shell corp as a tax shelter.)

          1. Oh, Denton makes an enormous amount of money. I just think his writers probably make shit. Their income probably isn’t that bad because they need to be able to live in Brooklyn, but adjusted for cost of living I can’t imagine they get much.

            1. Once they cover rent and repairs on the fixie, all they need is beer money to keep their sense of shame from rearing its ugly head.

              1. that’s not saying much, because I can’t even comprehend how much beer it would take.

            2. It really doesn’t cost that much to live in the further reaches and shittier parts of the outer boroughs. They probably get paid shit. They also probably have several other freelance gigs they try and get pieces in to for other income. There’s no way they live on Gawker pieces alone.

              1. Why would they even have to live in NYC? They could live in Alaska or Mozambique for all the internet cares.

    1. That is very interesting and informative. And makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever seen a duck eat a fish.

  2. This is crazy bullshit. If the false pretenses rise to the level of trespass, then, as Linnekin says, they can be charged with that.

    What are the odds these laws stand up in court? Approximately 0%?

    1. ^^this

    2. This is crazy bullshit. If the false pretenses rise to the level of trespass, then, as Linnekin says, they can be charged with that.

      The funny thing too, Linnekin isn’t doing herself or the animals much of any favor(s). After the whole ‘pink slime’ affair and the longer anti-GMO’ers go on, the more it becomes and ‘this is your brain on drugs’ all over again. I see and read outright lies printed about agribusiness and the people who believe them are the ones that are unwashed eating organic sprouts anyway.

      Bacon is bad for us and veal is literally made from newborn fuzzy animals, we get it.

      1. Er, I meant eating unwashed organic sprouts, but what I said is applicable.

      2. By counting the number of foods I like that are produced through suffering versus number of humane foods I don’t like, I have concluded that I like the taste of suffering.

      3. The funny thing too, Linnekin isn’t doing herself or the animals much of any favor(s).

        I’m confused.

        I thought that the objections to “pink slime” were especially hypocritical. Pink slime is part of using the whole animal, just like the noble Indians of the plains. (Of course, we do far better than they ever did at using the whole animal than they ever did).

        1. I’m confused.

          Apparently, I am too. Reading Linnekin’s credentials, confused KFLF with FARM.

          Not only was it hypocritical in criticizing the use of the whole animal, there are legitimate food supply concerns that can and did happen, nobody died from pink slime.

        2. But the name, Zeb. They feel icky eating something called ‘slime’.

          Personally, once I found out what it was my reaction was *shrug* sure, I’d eat that if properly cooked.

          1. Aren’t they the ones who named it “slime”?

    3. Yep. FARM membership may be 100% hypocrites, but hypocrites get to speak, too.

  3. OT:Possible poll topic for the millennials-
    Is Bill Cosby funny or a monster?

    1. Why can’t he be both?

      1. Yeah. Why do people always want everything to be a binary choice? If he’s funny, he’s funny, even if he is also a serial rapist or something even worse.

        I like Cosby, so I am holding off on having any opinion on this.

        1. Jeez Zeb I bet your the kind of person that would circle the maybe on the yes, no, or maybe note for the eighth grade dance.

          1. Just like that bitch Alison. wait are you Alison?

      2. Well in this incidence it definitely is both.

    2. Millennials: Who?

    3. I find people’s impressions of Cosby to be funnier than Cosby.

      1. One of the funnier things I saw on Tosh.O was a compilation of white chicks imitating Bill Cosby.

        1. People find Tosh Point Zero funny?

  4. Are those pigs, or humans?

    1. Soylent Pink.

      1. “Guess what, we’ve figured out how to use the squeal too!”

        1. Ke$ha?

          1. I wouldn’t have relations with kesha with Steve Smith’s dick for fear of catching something.


    2. We all know you can get severely beaten and arrested for taking photos and videos of pigs. They don’t like that shit.

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