Columnist wrong on motive, effect of animal cruelty law

In his Aug. 4 column “Dereliction of duty,” David Keene accuses members of Congress generally and me specifically of not understanding the meaning of our own legislative proposals, and he asserts we have lobbyists write the bills on our behalf. I certainly cannot speak for all 535 representatives and senators, but Keene is off base with respect to the way I operate in Congress.

As an example, Mr. Keene cites my legislation, H.R. 1887, which was enacted into law in 1999 and bans the sale of any depiction of animal cruelty “with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate and foreign commerce for commercial gain.”

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This legislative idea was not brought to me by an animal rights organization or other lobbyist. In fact, I was contacted by Michael Bradbury, who was then the district attorney of Ventura County, Calif., where I have lived for over 40 years. Mr. Bradbury informed me of the problem of thousands of “crush videos” that depict women crushing small animals under their feet. At the time these acts of animal cruelty, which are illegal under most state animal cruelty laws, could rarely be prosecuted because criminals moved their goods through interstate commerce to avoid prosecution. It was in response to the loopholes in existing state law, not because of lobbyists, that I introduced the legislation.

Further, Keene claims that the statute will allow prosecutors to bring cases regarding hunting videos. My bill has been the federal law for close to a decade and there has not been a single case of an individual being prosecuted for selling or possessing a video that shows hunting. Instead, the law is operating as intended — it has largely eliminated the marketing of crush videos depicting horrific acts of animal cruelty.

I stand by both the drafting and the results of my legislation.

Washington


Sadly missed the mark

From Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.)

Columnist David Keene has joined an unsavory coalition seeking to overturn a 1999 federal law that bans the commercial sale of videos depicting extreme and illegal acts of animal cruelty, such as dog fighting and other deliberate and malicious acts.

The legislation at issue, the Depictions of Animal Cruelty Act (H.R. 1887 in the 106th Congress) introduced by Rep. Gallegly and which I cosponsored, targeted a shockingly widespread, underground subculture of “animal crush” videos, where scantily clad women, often in high-heeled shoes, impale and crush to death puppies, kittens and other small animals. In the last decade, this federal law has helped dry up the sickening crush video industry, and has also been used to prosecute people who profit from the sale of contraband dog-fighting films.

Apparently, Keene has been misled into thinking legal hunting activities and videos depicting those activities might somehow be banned under the statute. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Depictions of Animal Cruelty Act simply criminalizes depictions of animal cruelty that are already illegal, and it doesn’t cover lawful practices such as hunting.

Keene’s analysis puts him at odds with the 26 state attorneys general who have asked the federal courts to uphold this law because it’s vital to protect animals and the larger community from violence, drug trafficking and other crimes that flow from those who perpetrate these maliciously cruel videos.

We don’t allow people to sell videos of people actually abusing children or raping women. The same legal principles are at hand with regard to malicious acts of cruelty perpetrated against animals — acts which, again, are illegal in every state. Keene’s gross misreading of this important federal anti-cruelty law sadly missed the mark.

Washington


Didn’t know Obama ‘change’ meant LBJ

From Helen Logan-Tackett

As a devout Republican who feared that the Bush administration’s democratization-of-the-world foreign policy would morph our nation into an empire, I voted for Barack Obama.

Candidate Obama compared himself to President Kennedy’s “Camelot” administration that promised change for the better. President Obama’s dramatic expansion of social-engineering domestic policies and his increase of troops into Afghanistan resemble more closely President Lyndon Johnson’s bread-and-bombs administration.

If President Johnson’s expanded welfare programs couldn’t feed, clothe or educate all the populace, then he just drafted the surplus poor into the military and sent them into the protracted war called Vietnam.

When President Obama promised us change, I didn’t realize he meant to change into President Lyndon Johnson.

Fullerton, Calif.