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High court to rule on animal cruelty video

Sept. 23, 2009 at 9:19 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court this fall will decide whether free speech rights protect video depictions of animal cruelty, experts say.

At issue is the case of a Virginia pit bull breeder who was convicted of selling videos of dogfights, whose case is scheduled to be heard next month. He is supported by book publishers, movie makers, photographers, artists and journalists, who are concerned about the free speech implications of his arrest, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

On the other side of the issue are animal rights advocates, who want a federal law banning animal cruelty videos to be found constitutional in this case, which includes videos depicting heretofore-protected hunting activities, in which dogs attack wild boars.

"This is not about speech, but about a commercial activity of a sickening type," Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, told the newspaper.

He said there has been a troubling resurgence in popularity of "crush videos" for sale on the Internet, which appeal to sexual fetishists. Rights groups say they typically depict small animals such as kittens being crushed beneath a woman's high-heeled shoe, the Times said.

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