Friday, February 22, 2013

Ind. close to criminalizing exposure of corporate crime

This book would be a crime
if SB 373 passes. 
Indiana lawmakers are moving legislation that would make it a crime to expose corporate crime.

The Indiana AFL-CIO gives us the details:
Senate Bill 373, authored by Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle), would make it illegal for workers, journalists or others to photograph or record video of unsafe, discriminatory or otherwise unethical work place practices.
Our Hoosier brothers and sisters point out that such a law would have prevented child labor laws and food safety regulations. Upton Sinclair's 1905 book "The Jungle" exposed disgusting conditions inside meatpacking plants and led to food inspection. Lewis Hine's photographs of small children in dangerous workplaces resulted in child labor laws and compulsory education.

SB 373 is aimed  at groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, which conduct undercover investigations of animal cruelty in factory farms. TriplePundit tells us, was a HSUS investigation of the Hallmark/Westland slaughterhouse in Northern California, including a video, shot by a worker inside the plant, that captured cruelty and the slaughter of animals too sick to walk, in violation of food safety requirements, and led to the recall of 143 million pounds of beef from school cafeterias in 36 states, as well as the ultimate banning of this meat from the food supply. 
Likewise, an undercover worker in Vermont, shot video that  “showed day-old veal calves too weak to stand being shocked, dragged and skinned alive in the plant,” The disclosure led to the arrest of the worker responsible, the shutdown of the plant pending management changes, and a new regulation banning the use of such “downer” calves.
Meatpacking plants are also extremely dangerous to workers. The rate of injury and illness is higher in slaughterhouses than any other manufacturing plant.

The Indiana proposal is -- of course -- the work of ALEC, the billionaire-backed dating service for corporations. That means the bill has been proposed and passed in state capitols throughout the country. The Green Is the New Red blog wrote last year:
“Ag Gag” bills targeting undercover investigators of factory farms have been introduced in 10 states in the last year. The nearly identical legislation is no coincidence. The bills, and their supporters, have ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Ag Gag laws have been passed in Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, Kansas, and Utah.

Emily Brelage, writing in The DePauw, calls them an abuse of power:
The motive behind S.B. 373 remains absolutely clear: suppress the democratic flow of information, protect corporate interest. It’s the same kind of crony capitalism that pervades Washington, where government continues to strong-arm its citizenry at the behest of big business.
The Indiana AFL-CIO asks Hoosiers to call or email their state senator and ask them to vote NO on Senate Bill 373. Click on this link here to connect to your representative.

This is the actual text of the proposed bill:
Indiana Senate Bill 
Agricultural and industrial operations. Makes it unlawful recording of agricultural or industrial operations, a Class A infraction, for a person, with intent to harass, defame, annoy, or harm, to: (1) enter real property that is owned by another person and on which agricultural operations or industrial operations are being conducted; (2) take a photograph of or make a video recording or motion picture of the real property, structures located on the real property, or the agricultural operations or industrial operations being conducted on the real property; and (3) distribute the photograph or recording; without the written consent of the owner of the real property or an authorized representative of the owner. Increases the penalty to a Class B misdemeanor if the offense is committed knowingly or intentionally and the person has a prior unrelated judgment or conviction.