December 1, 2021

Legislators Introduce Bill to Ban ‘Animal Crush’ Videos

Supreme CourtFulfilling a promise to craft bills banning “crush videos”, three U.S. senators introduced a bill on Monday that specifically bans cruel recordings of humans torturing small animals to death.

The legislation was in reply to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year voiding a broader federal law that addressed cruelty to animals.

The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, a bi-partisan effort, criminalizes the production, marketing, and sale of these specialized types of videos. Violation of the act would result in prison sentences of up to seven years.

Usually depicting women with faces concealed, the videos depict the stomping to death of helpless small animals such as puppies, kittens and rabbits either with bare feet or stiletto heel shoes. According to animal rights groups, the violent videos are designed to pander to those for whom such practices fulfill a sexual fetish.

Republican senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, a co-sponsor of the legislation, stated that the videos to be banned are fully within the obscenity doctrine which is a long established exception to the 1st Amendment. In addition it adds the critical banning of non-commercial animal crush videos, a necessity when considering the way that file sharing permeates the Internet.

Senators Jeff Merkley of Ohio, and Richard Burr of North Carolina, also assisted in drafting the legislation.

The Supreme Court ruling resulted in the need to introduce “narrowly tailored” legislation specifically designed to ban these cruel videos.

By an 8-1 margin, the justices ruled that a 1999 federal law intended to end the sale and marketing of dogfighting, and other types of animal cruelty videos, was unconstitutional – a violation of the right of free speech. That particular case concerned a Virginia man charged with selling videos of dogfighting at a location outside of the U.S..

The single dissenting opinion, by Justice Samuel Alito focused specifically on crush videos. He said that the Courts had made an error by second-guessing Congress’ judgment concerning the importance of preventing acts of animal cruelty.

At the time, Alito predicted that a flood of crush videos would enter the underground market because the Court ruling practically legalized the sale of these types of videos.

It is unclear if additional legal challenges would arise if the proposed legislation becomes law.