A California state lawmaker withdrew a bill Wednesday that would have prevented animal activists from documenting systematic cruelty inflicted upon farm animals.
Unlike in other states, where similar ag-gag bills have been approved or are winding their way through legislatures with little public fanfare, the bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Patterson (R) triggered an outcry of opposition in California.
Patterson's legislation had been pushed by the California Cattlemen's Association, a lobbying group that represents ranchers and beef producers. The bill was was disingenuously framed as an effort to clamp down on animal cruelty -- kind of a war-is-peace deal, except on animal farms.
The latest version of the legislation, before it was yanked, would have required anybody who filmed or photographed abuse of livestock to turn over the evidence to law enforcement authorities within five days. That was framed as an effort to immediately rectify abuses. Because Patterson and the California Cattlemen's Association love animals so, so much. In reality, it would have made it almost impossible for animal activists to legally document long-running, systematic patterns of animal abuse; instead they would have been forced to blow their cover every time they filmed a single transgression or else risk being prosecuted and fined.