Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Smokin' that stuff is a crime, Senator...

Seen at Robb Allen's Place...

Seems there's a new law in Florida, for you people bitterly clinging to your cameras...
16 (2) A person who photographs, video records, or otherwise
17 produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at
18 or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture
19 operations are being conducted without the written consent of
20 the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits
21 a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s.
22 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, Florida Statutes.
And I figured, there's gotta be a story behind this. The first provision makes simple trespass a first degree felony; the second, quoted above, makes snapping at pic (whether or not trespassing, as far as I can tell) a first degree felony. For the record, though I'm hardly a legal scholar, I think that's thirty years in slam. For taking a picture? Of a farm? C'mon.

A very little research netted me this:
Simpson, president of Simpson Farms near Dade City, said the law would prevent people from posing as farmworkers so that they can secretly film agricultural operations.

He said he could not name an instance in which that happened. But animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Freedom display undercover videos on their web sites to make their case that livestock farming and meat consumption are cruel.
Ah ha! So what we have here is a connected meat baron who got burned by PETA, and bought himself a senator or two to put a stop to their nefarious goin's on. Well, okay then. I suspect (again, I speak without personal knowledge) that with the right feeding up and aging, PETA activists would make excellent steak. But that's a pretty damned sweeping law, and there's this thing called "unintended consequences..."

Oh, but that's all right. This law would never actually be enforced abused:
Simpson said he doesn't think that "innocent" roadside photography would be prosecuted even if the bill is passed as introduced.

"Farmers are a common-sense people," he said. "A tourist who stops and takes a picture of cows -- I would not imagine any farmer in the state of Florida that cares about that at all."
I dunno, Mr. Simpson. You're a farmer - of sorts - and you haven't shown much common sense so far. You don't think cops would love yet another class of soft targets to get their arrest numbers up? Because I think they would. People are already afraid of snapping pictures of trains and power stations, and you just paid for a law that makes a felon of anybody holding a camera within sight of a barn.

(sigh) Naw, nobody'd ever abuse a law like that...except they already do.

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