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Mr. KYL. Mr. President, today, Senators MERKLEY and BURR and I are introducing the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010. The bill would criminalize the creation, sale, distribution, advertising, marketing, and exchange of animal crush videos. Representative Gallegly has sponsored a House companion bill, the Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act, H.R. 5566.
Animal crush videos often depict obscene, extreme acts of animal cruelty designed to appeal to a specific, prurient sexual fetish. These crush videos were the target of a 1999 Federal statute that the United States Supreme Court struck down earlier this year in U.S. v. Stevens. In Stevens, the Supreme Court overturned the 1999 Act banning depictions of animal cruelty on the basis that it was unconstitutionally overbroad, in violation of the First Amendment.
The Stevens case did not involve crush videos and the Court specifically stated that it was not deciding whether a statute limited to crush videos would be constitutional. Instead it left the door open for Congress to enact a narrowly tailored ban on animal crush videos.
Our legislation would ban animal crush videos that fit squarely within
the obscenity doctrine, a well-established exception to the First Amendment. The Senate Judiciary Committee received testimony earlier this month on the obscene nature of crush videos. Dr. Kevin Volkan, a psychology professor with an expertise in atypical psychopathologies, testified about the sexual nature of crush videos and the specific paraphilias associated with them. He stated that in his professional opinion the crush videos contain elements of specific forms of paraphilia in varying degrees and that people, usually men, watch crush videos for sexual gratification. The Humane Society's two crush video investigations also confirm the inherent sexual nature of many crush videos. Those investigations also found a growing market for custom-made videos for those with crush paraphilia.
The United States also has a long-history of prohibiting speech that is essential to criminal conduct. In the case of animal crush videos, the videos themselves drive the criminal conduct depicted in them. Every State and the District of Columbia have laws criminalizing the animal cruelty depicted in the videos, but these laws are hard to enforce. The acts of extreme animal cruelty are committed secretively and anonymously. The nature of the videos also makes it difficult to determine when and where the crimes occurred or that the crime occurred within the relevant statute of limitations. These prosecutorial difficulties are confirmed by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Given the difficulty in prosecuting the underlying conduct using state law, the integral connection between the video and the criminal conduct, and the recent proliferation of animal crush videos on the Internet since the Stevens decision, it is necessary for Congress to enact a new Federal law targeting the interstate distribution network for animal crush videos.
This measure will also take an important step by banning non-commercial distribution of animal crush videos. We believe this is necessary given the nature of the Internet and the propagation of file-sharing and peer-to-peer networks that exist today. Similar to other Federal criminal statutes that prohibit non-commercial distribution, there is an exception for law enforcement purposes.
I want to thank Senators LEAHY and SESSIONS and their staffs for their assistance in addressing this important issue and holding a hearing on the topic in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I also want to thank the Humane Society for bringing this issue to Congress' attention and working tirelessly to address it.
I urge my Senate colleagues to support this legislation and work with me to swiftly enact it.
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