May 23, 2009
Disappearing speech is not free
This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Georgia Television Co. d/b/a WSB-TV .While I haven't seen the story because I can't, it apparently takes a close look (too critical a look?) at some of the practices of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
To back up a bit, for some time now, I have been concerned about the radical animal rights philosophy being mainstreamed by HSUS. (I'm hardly alone.) Among other things, HSUS President Wayne Pacelle has said he wants to stop all hunting, and has spoken in favor of getting rid of all domestic animals:
We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. ...One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding...Wayne Pacelle - Former National Director of Fund for Animals.Under Pacelle, the HSUS hired notorious former Animal Liberation Front activist JP Goodwin, ("arrested and convicted for being the ringleader of a crew that vandalized fur retailers in multiple states during the 1990s") and placed him in a prominent position.
What annoys me the most about the HSUS, though, is not the pronouncements of its president or his hiring practices, but the fact that a lot of people still think the HSUS runs your local humane society, and that money given to them goes directly to animal care. Nothing could be further from the truth. HSUS is a PETA-style lobbying group, except they've got a wonderfully mainstream-sounding name and are therefore largely unburdened by the baggage that PETA's brand name carries.
Contrary to popular belief, they do not run your local animal shelter. While this is almost never reported in the news media, that's the central story on the video that has disappeared.
WSB-TV is a local ABC affiliate in Atlanta, and not long after their story on HSUS aired, all hell broke loose. Not only was the story was taken down from YouTube for "copyright" issues, but the written report was pulled from the affiliate's website:
A cone of silence continues to descend over the original WSB-TV story on HSUS fundraising practises that continues to support the rumor of the unleashing of the HSUS legal team on WSB-TV for their researched & fact-supported story.The author's claim about other WSB YouTube video links being untouched is absolutely correct; there are hundreds of WSB videos, and many of them are over a year old. If the issue is "copyright," why is it being enforced selectively, and only with a story considered sensitive by a gigantic lobbying organization?
There's also something funny going on with Twitter. An account belonging to a HSUS critic has been suspended for "suspicious activity":
David Martosko of the Center of Consumer Freedom has not been immune from the attacks either. Alot of people on Twitter were surprised to find that his accounts had been suspended for "Suspicious Activity", allegedly at the behest of the HSUS. Given that (a) his Twitter activity does not appear to violate Twitter terms of service and (b) the Humane Society Twitter users have the ability to block his messages if they don't want to see them, it is difficult to interpret this as anything but a message that the HSUS doesn't want anyone one Twitter to be able to see his messages.I'm not very familiar with how Twitter works, but regardless of whether HSUS is responsible for taking down the guy's account, someone obviously is, and the fact that a guy as prominent as Martosko has lost his account hardly makes Twitter look like a reliable outfit.
Amazingly, even the Google cache of the original text report has been removed:
It has been an interesting weekend since the May 14th release of the WSB-TV investigation of the Humane Society of the United States' fundraising practises and the use of those funds. The reaction of the Humane Society of the United States executive team and employees has been dramatic, if not over the top.They're certainly right about that; the text of the story can be found only at web sites critical of the HSUS. (The text of the report follows this post.)
For its part, the HSUS has issued a response impugning the motives of its critics, including insinuations about their tax-exempt status:
WSB-TV reporters should have checked their sources when they relied on information from the widely discredited Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). While organized as a 501(c) (3) charity, CCF is a front group for a wide range of animal abuse industries and other corporate interest that wish to conceal their attacks on public interest groups and government. The group's stock-in-trade involves taking aim at organizations that promote food safety, public health, or animal welfare. CCF has even attacked the National Cancer Institute, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their anti-drunk driving and public health campaigns.What groups like MADD have to do with this, I'm not sure.
What I'd like to know is why won't the HSUS simply let me watch the report and decide for myself?
Are they afraid of something?
I realize people disagree about animal rights, but there's a larger issue, and it isn't how accurate WSB's HSUS report may or may not be. It goes to the integrity of basic access to news reports. What's the point of having investigative journalism if people aren't allowed to see it? There's a legal doctrine called "fair comment," but how is anyone supposed to comment fairly on things that can't be seen?
I think it's a growing trend which doesn't bode well for the future of free speech.
MORE: Commenter Janj notes this excellent post with a connection to the video, but naturally, the videos keep getting pulled as fast as the're put up. (As one commenter there notes, it's like playing whack-a-mole.)
I hope you saw the report because it's gone. Gone from Yes Biscuit and the WSB-TV website. Gone from YouTube. Gone from Google.Hmmm.... Wasn't Michael Vick the dog torturer just released? Isn't he in the Atlanta area? [Note: He played for the Atlanta Falcons, but lives in Virginia.] And now the plan is to have him work with the HSUS? (I find myself wondering aloud whether the censorship campaign might have something to do with the latest Michael Vick news.)
The video is here.
Watch it while you can!
MORE: Here's the embed; I don't know whether it will work or how long it will last.
MORE: More on the Pacelle Vick partnership in the New York Times. I find it sickening that they'd work with a man who electrocuted and hanged dogs that didn't want to fight.
But perhaps I'm not cynical enough.
Why it already appears that the teams are bidding for Michael Vick.
Is HSUS providing his ticket back?
AND MORE: Michael Vick's release is of course huge news in Atlanta.
(Whether there's any connection between the spiked WSB story and the HSUS/Michael Vick alliance is of course pure speculation.)
Story Exposing HSUS Buried: Read Transcript
posted by Eric on 05.23.09 at 09:33 AM
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