This is wrong. And it kills me to say that, because I staunchly believe in and defend freedom of speech. But it is wrong, and the truth is any measure taken to actually change this stance endangers other forms of communication.
We've long heard that yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater does not fall under the 1st Amendment. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said in his ruling on the matter:
"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
To me, the allowance that acts of animal cruelty -- rooster fighting, pit bull fighting, "crush" videos depicting mice and kittens being stomped on by women in high heels (seriously, don't click that if you get even the slightest bit angry at animal cruelty... I'm still shaking with anger) -- is the very essence of creating a clear and present danger that brings about substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. Allowing the video depiction and subsequent sale and possession of such material is allowing the recording and trade of an illegal act.
Under this same 1st Amendment ruling, we should also allow child pornography, snuff films, alcohol commercials to be played during the daytime, billboards and ads depicting cigarettes and smoking to be played on television and placed near schools, and other things that depict illegal acts in a video, picture or other form of media.
The act of harming an animal intentionally and maliciously is illegal, but free speech now protects people who film and trade such materials depicting it. Same goes with pit bull fighting, rooster fighting, lighting a kitten on fire...
I find all of the acts disgusting. And I find the difference in opinion regarding something like child porn and videos of animal cruelty even more disgusting. And it's really, really hard for me to ever have an opinion that smacks the hand of the 1st Amendment - I'm a dyed-in-the-wool free speech advocate, and I believe very heavily in the right to be free to express yourself. But I don't see any artistic, conversational, or periodical merit in videos of animal cruelty. Or child porn. Or any other illegal act that, when filmed and distributed, provides commerce for scum.
My hope is that this ruling will force states to take much harder stances against animal cruelty, such that making a video of, say, a pit bull fight would be so risky as to make it not worth it.
Just how I feel. How do YOU feel?