Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Animal rights supporters hold up signs at a pork expo protest in June 2012. (Photo: Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

Utah's 'Ag-Gag' Law May Have Found First Legal Targets

Animal rights group vows to challenge 'shameful,' 'unconstitutional' law barring factory farm investigations

Nadia Prupis

Four animal rights activists from California are likely to be the first ever defendants charged under Utah's so-called "ag gag" law, which prohibits undercover investigations and recordings of animals in factory farms.

Robert Penney, Sarah Jane Hardt, Harold Weiss, and Bryan Monell were charged in late September 2014 in Utah's Iron County court for agricultural operation interference—the "ag gag" law—and criminal trespassing on agricultural land.

The activists, who are associated with the Farm Animals Rights Movement, told the Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday that they had planned to document the journey of a truckload of pigs from Utah's Circle Four farm in Milford to a slaughterhouse in Los Angeles—which is legal even under the agricultural operation interference law.

"The purpose of our trip was to photograph the farm legally," Sarah Jane Hardt said, "and to follow and track the pigs on their journey back. It’s about a nine-hour journey."

Attorney T. Matthew Phillips, who is representing all four defendants, reiterated that the plan was to document the "trail of tears" between the farm and the slaughterhouse. The activists did not trespass onto the farm, but rather took photographs from the side of the road outside of the property, Phillips said.

Local authorities detained the group without arrest. After five hours, they were given citations, Hardt said. "We didn’t violate the law in any way," she told the Tribune.

Animal rights advocates charge that the law not only punishes whistleblowers, it shields the abusive corporate agriculture industry. PETA Director of Litigation Matthew Strugar told Common Dreams, "It's shameful that in a once-free country, 'ag-gag' legislation has been introduced to benefit industries at the expense of animals and consumers."

According to Phillips, the law is unconstitutional. "[I]t targets only the would-be whistleblowers and benefits only the special interests."

Strugar echoed that point, adding, "Legislators should instead be passing laws to require cameras on all factory farms and in all slaughterhouses and to catch animal abusers, such as those who have been caught in undercover investigations—including sadistic workers who kicked pigs in the head or spray-painted them in the nostrils, stomped on and threw chickens and turkeys like footballs, smashed piglets' heads against concrete floors, and beat and sexually assaulted pigs with steel gate rods and hard plastic herding canes."

"Once again, 'ag-gag' laws prove only that factory farms and slaughterhouses have something to hide," Strugar said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'The Facebook Papers' Spur More Calls to 'Break Them Up!'

Other critics are demanding a "full, independent, outside investigation" of the tech titan as whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies to the U.K. Parliament.

Jessica Corbett ·


Critics See Menendez Villainy Equal to Sinema's on Medicare Drug Pricing Fight

"It's discouraging to see Sen. Menendez is on the wrong side of this fight rather than leading the charge for more affordable, accessible healthcare for all."

Brett Wilkins ·


Humanity 'Way Off Track': WMO Says Atmospheric Carbon at Level Unseen in 3 Million Years

The new report has "a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP 26," said the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·


Any Lawmaker Involved in Planning Jan. 6 Insurrection 'Must Be Expelled,' Says AOC

Organizers of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol say that several congressional Republicans and White House officials helped plan former President Donald Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·


Profits Before People: 'The Facebook Papers' Expose Tech Giant Greed

"This industry is rotten at its core," said one critic, "and the clearest proof of that is what it's doing to our children."

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo