Archive for Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Federal court sides with fair against PETA

September 4, 2012, 12:04 p.m. Updated September 4, 2012, 4:25 p.m.


— A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Kansas State Fair can require an animal-rights group to shield people walking by its booth from easily seeing images depicting animal slaughter.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten rejected a request from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to block the restrictions on its booth for the fair, which starts Friday. The judge determined the fair is a "limited public forum," because exhibitors have to apply for a booth and pay a fee — unlike a public square, for example, where anybody has the right to protest or speak.

PETA plans to show a 13-minute video, "Glass Walls," which depicts animals being slaughtered and instances of abuse at factory farms. It filed a lawsuit last week asking the court to immediately block the fair's requirements that it shield people from the video.

In rejecting the group's request for that restraining order, Marten said restrictions imposed by fair officials were minimal and did not constitute any significant infringement on PETA's free speech rights. However, Marten declined to dismiss PETA's lawsuit, as the state had requested.

Marten noted fair officials are not preventing PETA from showing its undercover video. Instead, he said, this could be as simple as turning a TV screen away from the public flow down the aisle.

"It is simply a matter of whether you can have it shoved in your face, or whether you take a step or two in another direction," Marten said.

The judge was clearly uncomfortable with his ruling, telling lawyers at a hearing that it ran counter to his own personal feelings and saying that he would not have a problem taking his own children by the video. But he said he believed the fair board acted responsibly. He invited PETA to appeal to the 10th Circuit for an immediate ruling that would provide more guidance.

It is unclear whether PETA intends to further pursue the issue. PETA's attorney, Bill Raney, said following the hearing that no decision had been made yet about whether to appeal the judge's ruling or even whether to proceed with the lawsuit, which names the Kansas Fair Board, the state and the fair's general manager, Denny Stoecklein, as defendants.

"We are disappointed," Raney said. "We think the fair is a designated public forum."

PETA later issued a written statement saying it was considering an appeal.

"The Kansas State Fair's requirement that PETA hide its video from fairgoers is like the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy that she can't look behind the curtain," PETA said. "We believe the First Amendment means that we can show our video without limitation to reveal what the animal agriculture industry wishes no one would see — that animals confined in filth on factory farms are routinely beaten and kicked by workers and have their throats cut open while they're still conscious at the slaughterhouse."

Kansas Deputy Attorney General Jeff Chanay said the state was pleased with the court's ruling.

"We are thankful for the opportunity to present our position in court," Chanay said.

During the hearing, the state tried to distinguish the fair from a traditional public forum by portraying it as "Kansas' largest classroom."

If the fair were equated to a public forum, that would destroy the atmosphere of the event, argued Stephen McAllister, one of the attorneys representing the state. One group might want to show dead soldiers to protest wars, another might want to show aborted fetuses to protest abortion, another might want to include nudity in a booth. The state has a compelling interest in controlling what is presented to children in this setting, McAllister said.

"It is not about trying to restrict the message; it is trying to see the environment is appropriate," McAllister said.

But Raney argued that in its own commercial exhibitor materials, the fair has called the event a "public forum of limited duration." Therefore, Raney said, the fair is subject to the same rules as any other public forum.

"The First Amendment is not so easily evaded," Raney argued. "You can silence someone indirectly."


patkindle 5 years, 8 months ago

peta, (or pita)will win this dog fight they will team up withthe great and wonerful aclu and pick up plenty of bucks from the kansas hicks so sad, too bad

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

Got young kids? Try this. Go to Youtube, look up "animal cruelty compilation" and tell them they can't play with the XBox until they've seen the video. Would you do that to your kids?

somedude20 5 years, 8 months ago

How is it that the Phelps cult can stand on Gage Blvd holding signs of dead and aborted fetuses that are very graphic but PETA (whom I don't really care for) can't have pictures of how the food (animals) we eat are treated and slaughtered? How can they have free speech at "limited public forum" cemetery holding up their signs but PETA can't?

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

"At their worst all left-wing nuts do is burn down empty buildings."

There's a little Stalin in all of you just aching to come out.

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

"free speech at "limited public forum" cemetery"

Phelps stays on the sidewalk, the most public of public places. The cemetery or fair is leased (and in effect owned) by private parties. Totally different forums.

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually the fair grounds and veteran's cemeteries are publicly owned. So are many municipal cemeteries. They are owned by the government, just like sidewalks along city streets.

CLARKKENT 5 years, 8 months ago

We need to continue with the real PETA, and continue to be the PEOPLE that are EATING all the TASTY ANIMALS.

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

If this wasn't at an event attended largely by kids, I'd say let them put it out for everyone to see.

If you get off on exposing people to animal cruelty, rent a gallery and show them what you have.

George_Braziller 5 years, 8 months ago

Wonder if the anti-abortion groups are still displaying photos of aborted fetuses. Used to see that every year at the state fair.

James Minor 5 years, 8 months ago

Let PETA show their video at the fair. They can show it behind a stand serving fried chicken, boiled lobster, crab, shrimp, and barbecue ribs. A drawing can be held at the stand for a leather coat, alligator boots and a snake skin purse. When the PETA people get hungry and want a lobster meal tell them "Hell No" go eat your soybean and avacado dip and glass of unharmed water!!!

LadyJ 5 years, 8 months ago

Just for fun, I'll do a merrell.

TREAD softly in the garden and pluck that rose with care: flowers cry when cut, cucumbers squeal and even healthy fruit gurgles according to new acoustic research on the stressful life of plants. The findings, released by the Institute for Applied Physics at the University of Bonn, could have important implications for farmers since, with the proper eavesdropping device, one can now distinguish between healthy and sick vegetables. Talking to plants, it seems, is not as rewarding as listening to them.

The Bonn scientists have developed laser-driven microphones that pick up sounds inaccessible to the human ear. When a leaf or a stem is sliced, the plant signals pain (or perhaps merely dismay) by releasing the gas ethylene over its entire surface.

Doctor Frank Kühnemann of Bonn University has been trapping the ethylene in a bell jar. The gas molecules are later bombarded with calibrated laser beams, which makes them vibrate. This produces a soundwave picked up by the microphones. “The more a plant is subjected to stress, the louder the signal we get on our microphone,” he said.

The Bonn scientists have tested a range of plants, always in rooms with controlled temperatures and simulated natural light. But they were most surprised by the reaction of the cucumber. The vegetable appeared to be in good shape, yet according to the acoustic measurements it was virtually shouting with agony.

But the Bonn University team believes plants do more than chatter about aches and pains as if passing time in a doctor’s waiting room. The team also thinks plants warn each other about approaching danger. The “alarm signal” is a chemical message transmitted between individual plants: this too can be measured by the new equipment.

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