President Barack Obama signed into law yesterday a measure criminalizing the creation and sale of so-called “crush videos”—videos that depict a sexual fetish involving the torture or crushing to death of small animals.
The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 prohibits the creation of crush videos for distribution and the sale, marketing, exchange, or distribution of such videos in interstate or foreign commerce.
The act defines an animal crush video as any photograph, motion-picture film, video or digital recording, or electronic image that (1) depicts actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury and (2) is obscene.
Exemptions are provided for visual depictions of customary and normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices; the slaughter of animals for food; and hunting, trapping, or fishing.
Violators could face up to seven years in jail.
The measure and several similar bills were introduced earlier this year after the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on videos showing graphic violence against animals. The court deemed the ban too broad.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)issued a statement today in which the organization commended President Obama for signing the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act into law. Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA’s forensic sciences and anti-cruelty projects, said the act protects both animals and free speech by focusing specifically on crush videos, “which clearly have no place in our society.”
“The ASPCA has long recognized the dangerous potential for animal cruelty to lead to more serious crimes,” Lockwood said. “By banning crush videos, our government is potentially helping to protect the community from other serious crimes and sending a clear message to individuals seeking to profit from the suffering of helpless animals.”