PETA must shield video at Kansas State Fair, judge says

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The Kansas State Fair won the first round in its free speech dispute with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten, Wichita, Kan., ruled Tuesday the fair is a so-called “limited public forum,” and that fair officials acted reasonably in requiring PETA to shield people walking by its booth from easily seeing the group’s “educational video.”

But the judge also denied a motion by the state to dismiss PETA's lawsuit.

The state of Kansas was represented by the office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

PETA sued the Kansas State Fair and the fair’s general manager, claiming restrictions violated the group’s free speech rights. At issue was a 13-minute video containing undercover images from slaughterhouses and large farms. The video, narrated by ex-Beatle and vegetarian Paul McCartney, is described as “gruesome” by PETA.

PETA issued a statement in response to the ruling.

“The Kansas State Fair's requirement that PETA hide its video from fairgoers is like the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy that she can't look behind the curtain,” the statement said. “We believe the First Amendment means that we can show our video without limitation to reveal what the animal agriculture industry wishes no one would see—that animals confined in filth on factory farms are routinely beaten and kicked by workers and have their throats cut open while they're still conscious at the slaughterhouse. We are considering an appeal of today's ruling.”

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Henry Parsons    
MA  |  September, 05, 2012 at 04:38 AM

There is nothing pretty about the slaughterhouse...I don't need to see it, and the public doesn't need to view it. Seems that the KSF is private property, and that they should have some control of the content of what is displayed there. If Peta wants to set up in the street on public property, perhaps then they can hide behind our Constitution...

MA  |  September, 05, 2012 at 07:38 AM

Wonder how much of the so called tape was spliced together?

Sam Johnson    
ohio  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:01 AM

The State of Kansas also has the Consititional right of freedom of association so they may invite or bar anyone or any orginization they chouse to their venu. Ie if you are over 21 you may not participate in the Jr. fair. Peta can do or say what ever it wants in their own venue and thus have equal protection of law and no loss of their freedom of speach. They may say whatever they like but that does not mean that anyone has to listen.

south dakota  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:05 AM

Showing films like this and claiming that it is common practice is no different than showing films of the Nazi's and the holocaust and claiming that all people do the same.

Sydney S    
Kansas  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:05 AM

I wonder how much of the video PETA staged with their own supporters. People will get a good look at how animals are really treated at the state fair. Look around PETA, 4-H youth looking after their animals in a compassionate and caring way. Making sure they have hay to sleep on, grain and water at all times and they are healthy and comfortable. If that is animal abuse, then I suppose I'm guilty too.

Arizona  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:16 AM

Paul McCartney is a n idiot. He needs to go back to England and kiss some royal a** and leave Americans alone. They should let PETA set up their booth and then camped Ag industry booths all around them. Set up a 4-: booth and FFA booth will exhibitors and parents telling their story. PETA would quit, their gutless cry babys whom would get stomped by Ag supported community.

kansas  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:27 AM

Stupid all around and just another example of misunderstanding PETA... they love this stuff and it helps their cause. Old saying's true, "All Publicity is Good Publicity", when it comes to fundraising especially. It was foolish of the KSF to play this game with them, and a nice little silent protest and or counter-booth by producers would have served us all better. I'm just disappointed they didn't bring in their naked protest girls, including Pamela Anderson and Eva Mendez. Could have boosted fair attendance by several thousand. Somebody should ask them about this.

Colorado  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:51 AM

I agree. When my children or I exhibit livestock at a State Fair, we agree to a set of rules and ethical standards created by the state fair. If we choose not to abide by those ethical standards, they can disqualify us and/or ban us from exhibiting in future years. The state fair is not a public park, and as such, it cannot be run like some sort of free-for-all allowing exhibitors to show whatever they wish in the name of "free speech." PETA is welcome to pay for a booth and come and handout their pamphlets and materials, I don't believe they should be free to show whatever they want or disparage the 4-H organization as they did at the Colorado State Fair.

NJ  |  September, 05, 2012 at 10:43 AM

If they let PETA show the videos showing the graphical slaughtering of animals, then that opens the doors to show the graphic slaughtering of babies during abortions, does it not? Knowing the demographics of most of the members of PETA, I doubt they would agree, but turnabout is fair play...

Mac Hayes    
Rawline, WY  |  September, 05, 2012 at 01:57 PM

The right to show a video is not the same as demanding it be visible to people who do NOT want to see it. It is right to limit the display of "gruesome" scenes so they can be seen only by those who WANT to see them. In the same way, someday the Supreme Court will hopefully decide that "free speech" does not mean the right to blast auditoriums and the airwaves with vulgar and obscene speech that has no purpose other than to shock and offend the public.

Mac Hayes    
Rawlins, WY  |  September, 05, 2012 at 02:03 PM

The right to show a video is not the same as demanding it be visible to people who do NOT want to see it. It is right to limit the display of "gruesome" scenes so they can be seen only by those who WANT to see them. In the same way, someday the Supreme Court will hopefully decide that "free speech" does not mean the right to blast auditoriums and the airwaves with vulgar and obscene speech that has no purpose other than to shock and offend the public. (If this is a duplicate message, it is because it did not appear on my screen the first time I posted it.)

Mac Hayes    
Rawlins, WY  |  September, 05, 2012 at 02:11 PM

Watching common surgical operations is not for everyone, either. Many operations are gruesome, just like a murder scene. Ethically, people should not be exposed to such scenes that contain potentially horrifying actions, or causing strong emotional reactions, without a warning of the content.

Benita Wells    
NC  |  September, 05, 2012 at 03:28 PM

I still just do not understand why this became an issue!! The people at the KSF KNEW who PETA was...and why did they even toy with the idea of renting them space much less actually doing it! I hope that person lost his job! Someone said it earlier...publicity is what they wanted and they got what they wanted...publicity. Let this be a lesson to cant deal with terrorists (home grown or otherwise)! And we wonder why our court systems stay so backlogged!! Its trash like this that gets the system clogged.

Katy, TX  |  September, 05, 2012 at 03:40 PM

A film is no different from a movie. There is already a system in place to rate movies. Children are protected by age group using this system. PG, PG 13, R, X. How would this film rate? Maybe an R?, so the same viewing restrictions should apply. Period.

CA  |  September, 05, 2012 at 04:15 PM

I like this one. Very logical and very reasonable, even PETA would have a hard time getting around it. And making it into cartoons wouldn't help them either! Might also help keep them from harassing our kids, in and around school!, with the same garbage. I know when I was in school, that kind of material would have done serious psychological damage to me, just like the horror movies they showed on Halloween (no excuses accepted). While relatively minor as horror films go, I still have scenes show up in my nightmares--thirty years later. PETA should not be allowed to create that kind of havoc.

Dixon, CA  |  September, 05, 2012 at 07:47 PM

Or a better example would be to show a video of Catholic priests molesting boys and saying that that behavior is representative of clergy in general. There will always be a few bad apples in any barrel.

Missouri  |  September, 06, 2012 at 10:43 AM

IS PETA showing a HALAL or Koser plant because I'm pretty sure that 97% of the plants in the US kill the animals before they have their throats slit. This of course is not the case for Halal (not sure about Kosher plants) slaugherplants. PETA needs to go to the Middle East and see how people treat their animals there, where animals really are mistreated.....I saw some pretty horrible things in Iraq and Jordon. Halal for those folks that don't know are how Muslims want their livestock killed and Kosher is the Jewish way.....I'm not sure there is much of a difference between the two except for Halal the animal has to be turned towards Mecca if it is for the Sunni Muslim religion, not sure about Shi'a Muslims. Livestock have their throats slit and are not stunned before it happens.

Jay Simmons    
Moorefield, WV  |  September, 06, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Every state and county fair should have large signs posted at all entrances of every livestock display area. They should say in large letters: IF THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES, PETA AND OTHER ANIMAL RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS GET THEIR WAY NONE OF THESE ANIMALS WILL EXIST, BECAUSE THEY ARE AGAINST ALL ANIMAL USE. In addition we should be giving out pamphlets explaining just what the goals are of these organizations and encouraging them to contact their representives in government to have their tax exemp status taken away. Too long we have just defended ourselves against them. We need to take the offence and start showing them for just what they are and making them defend themselves and start explaining just why they shouldn't have to pay taxes on their income like every other business.

MO  |  September, 06, 2012 at 01:10 PM

Maybe the Kansas State Fair should tell PETA, or any of their brethren, next time that all booth locations are sold out.

Nebraska  |  September, 07, 2012 at 11:38 AM

I have read where Ohio is considering allowing PETA to show the same video at it's state fair. Has anyone else heard this? If so, why is there not an outrage out there over the state fair in Ohio allowing the same sort of nonsense?

Yuma, AZ  |  September, 09, 2012 at 06:35 PM


David Hendricks    
SC  |  September, 09, 2012 at 08:21 PM

Hey kids keep a close eye on your cattle. Those PETA idiots have been known to cut the halters while the cows are in the tie up area. I have heard about cattle running loose and getting into highways and getting hit or running thru the fair grounds and injuring people.

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  September, 11, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Surgical procedures are done with the idea of improving someone's health. The patients are willing subjects. The only ones contributing to that gruesomeness are all voluntarily there and are fully aware of the consequences of that decision. The same cannot be said about a slaughterhouse. Cows, pigs and chickens are not consensual. There is on the part of the rancher, butcher and consumer, a force being inflicted on innocent victims. The rancher knows what he's doing and so does the kill-floor worker - After all, they're getting money for the deed. Most consumers however don't associate the flesh on their plate with the living face. It's a reality that responsible people ought not to shield others from - Especially if they are unknowingly supporting something they'd be otherwise repelled to do. Ethically speaking... If the acts are so vile as to be hidden away - We certainly shouldn't be doing them at all! ;)

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  September, 11, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Just curious would anyone here also like to censor the opinions of a teen who writes her views on animal agriculture? What if she were a former ag student? How far would you want the "shield" to go? To spoken words and ideas too? and-Factory-Farming/

kansas  |  September, 11, 2012 at 06:23 PM

Bea, bea, bea, bea - You're such a fine Troll, and I think you're wasting your time here. Your verbal slights of hand and misdirection via non-sequitor dives off into human medicine and teen angst are breathtaking. With your special gifts for pontification from your moral high-ground, I would suggest you follow-up on Wendy from Missouri's request above and do some Trolling on a Muslim or Jewish food processing/production site. I'm sure there would be some very positive and loving responses to your sanctimony there. Imams charged with slitting the throats of struggling goats faced to the East, Haalal, for millions & millions of the faithful, are sure to be open to your informative lectures and lessons in proper moral living. Please report back on the number of vegans you've brow-beaten into existence from their ranks. We're all excited for you, so you go girl!

James H    
Colorado (ex KS)  |  September, 12, 2012 at 06:12 PM

I am shocked at the responses here. Do you people really think that the industrial Factory Farms are the same as the kids in 4-H on a family farm? I was in 4-H, I had a bottle calf. The PETA people may have a vegan agenda, but before that they are trying to help animals not be tortured. Small family farmers have husbandry with their animals and love them and treat them well, Factory farms and slaughterhouses hire cheap labor and don't care at all (they care about quotas). I guess what I am trying to say is farming has changed alot in the last 50 years and PETA and alot of people don't think for the better. Giant Monocrops are destroying our soil, Egg factories put multiple chickens in cages where they can't spread their wings (what would our grandparents say to that). People need to think a bit more about the difference between small family farms and Corporate Factory farms, because they are night and day. And for us christians do you really think Jesus would be pleased at the way we treat his creatures now-a-day?

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