Monday, May 25, 2015

Making Animal Abuse a Constitutional Right in North Carolina

In 2011, a worker at a Butterball turkey processing plant in Hoke County secretly videotaped other workers abusing the turkeys, which led to a raid by Hoke County deputies and convictions of workers and a state veterinarian, who tipped off Butterball about the raid.

In 2013, toadies in the NC Senate of the state's poultry industry -- which ain't small nor without power -- introduced a bill to make the worker who did the videotaping subject to prosecution, a kind of "Stopping Whistleblowers" act. At the time of its introduction (and hilariously), Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, said the provision was aimed at "protecting intellectual property," when it was clearly aimed at protecting the cruelty of factory-farming.

That bill never became law, but there's a whole new iteration of this "ag-gag" movement which is currently sitting on Governor Squishy's desk ... H405, benignly titled the "Property Protection Act." The bill would allow a business or property owner to seek damages against any employee who intentionally entered an unauthorized area of that business or property to record video or sound. Whistleblowers take warning. That factory-farmer will sue your ass into oblivion if you try to blow the whistle on animal cruelty, nasty working conditions, or unsafe food production.

Although opponents of the bill are calling it the "ag-gag" bill because of the Hoke County raid in 2011, the final version of the legislation isn't limited to agriculture. It would apply to any employee in any place of business.

Any employee in any place of business.

Gov. Squishy has only until Saturday to make up his mind whether to sign this pile of turkey droppings or veto it ... or more likely, given The Guv's track-record, allow it to become law without his signature.

He's probably none too pleased to have his pending decision become a national rallying cry, but it has. He's in the public spotlight on this, and on the hot-seat.

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